How to Stop Procrastinating: A Fool-Proof Way to Conquer the World

For the majority of my life, I felt I didn’t know how to stop procrastinating. I fell into the trap of putting stuff off, and kept telling myself that I needed the pressure to actually get shit done.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Original photo by Milos Tonchevski

This is stupid and false, and the same damn trap my students fall into right before they stay up all night to binge-write that brilliant paper that will earn them a  low C if they’re lucky.

Why I needed to stop procrastinating

So, I’ve been trying to open up an Etsy shop since spring. And now it’s September. But because I live in Oklahoma, I had to get a sales tax ID to sell physical products online so I could charge my customers sales tax.

This shouldn’t be that hard, so I filled out the paper work and submitted my application. Then, I waited for everything to come in the mail.

When it arrived, I got a notice that I wasn’t approved because of the classification of my S Corp. My S Corp sells creative services, not products, and I’m listed under a specific industry code for services.

I stared at that rejection for like a month. There was a spot to write some information and send it back. Only, I didn’t 100% understand what I needed to put there.

One morning, I called the Oklahoma Tax Commission. I was literally on hold for 2 hours and 48 minutes. (I just left my phone on speaker and went about grading papers.) When I finally spoke with someone, they didn’t know what to do either.

I’m not kidding about that. If you’ve ever dealt with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, I suspect you have a similar story.

So I kept putting it off. Sure, I wanted to get my shop set up, but like, there are always 18,000 other things that can be done too. And then I moved, and unpacking took roughly ONE THOUSAND HOURS.

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But a couple weeks ago, I finally just emailed my accountant. And in less than 48 hours, she gave me the simplest answer. She told me EXACTLY what I needed to write. And then I did.

And yesterday I got my sales tax ID in the mail.

It was so easy, but I built up this big wall in my head. And I waisted MONTHS.

It was so easy, but I built up this big wall in my head. And I waisted MONTHS. Click To Tweet

Do you need another example of why I need to stop procrastinating?

This week, I gave my students their first test. Some students take their tests in the class room, and some students take their tests in the disability resource center. While the test in class is given online, some students who test at the disability resource center need a paper copy of the test.

It’s not a big deal to make a paper copy. It just takes time. And it’s something I usually have the graduate assistant do. However, after a big mess that is absolutely no one’s fault, we don’t have a graduate assistant this semester. This isn’t a big deal, because I don’t have a lot that I need them to do.

But I just wanted to have someone else make this test.

So I put it off until the last possible minute. And when I started to make the test, I took a look in a folder in the very back corner of my Dropbox.

Lo and behold, I had actually created the test last semester.

Had I thought logically about it, I would’ve realized this. I would’ve remembered doing that. But nope. I just shoved it to the back of my mind and refused to deal with it at all until the last possible second.

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What I’ve learned about why I procrastinate

I procrastinate when things get a little hard or uncomfortable or inconvenient. I procrastinate when I remember how soft my couch is. I procrastinate when I remember that at the end of the day, I still have a day job paycheck coming in.

I procrastinate because I’m in love with easy shit. And I hate that about myself.

To be fair, I know that no one loves doing the dirty work or the hard things. But damn. I wish I could just bite my lip and make it happen.

Like had I gotten my sales tax ID sorted, I would have an established Etsy store already.

Or if I had tackled that test earlier, I could’ve sent it to the disability resource center, and gotten to bed on time the night I found it.

But let’s not dwell in what ifs. There’s no reason to be mad at past Marisa, because present Marisa is the same Marisa. So, I forgive you and your procrastination, Marisa. Just don’t let it happen again.

How you can stop procrastinating

For me, the first step to stop procrastinating is this: Realize that nothing you do is really that hard.

I mean, yeah. You do hard things.

But the daily hard things aren’t the big things that deserve to hang over our heads. Let the big life questions be the daunting things. Let them keep you up at night.

The daily hard things aren't the big things that deserve to hang over our heads. Click To Tweet

Those things that are mild irritations/inconveniences/hoops to jump through? Know that you can tackle them. Know that you’re making mountains out of molehills. Know that you’re giving way too much time and energy to a thing that straight up doesn’t deserve it.

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I know it’s hard to think in those terms. As stated earlier, I’m basically the queen of putting things off. (BOW TO ME, PROCRASTINATION PEASANTS!)

So please. Learn from my nonsense.

Ask yourself if one person can answer the question you have. And once you get that answer, can you finally move forward? If so, YOU BETTER ASK THAT QUESTION.

Ask yourself if you’ve been there before. And if you think the answer is yes, then ask yourself what you did when you were in that position. Rely on what you did in the past, because you can use that now.

Ask yourself if the thing that’s tripping you up is actually hard. Or if you’re just using it as an excuse to procrastinate. If you are, knock it off.

How to Stop Procrastinating Click To Tweet

What little things have you procrastinated doing? What tricks do you have to help people stop procrastinating? Are you as excited as I am for my soon-to-open Etsy shop?

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9 comments

  1. Oh sister, I am right there with you when it comes to procrastination. I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t even accomplish a task unless I’m doing it at the last possible minute. I really need to stop doing that. And, I am SUPER excited to see your new Etsy shop.

  2. It is funny to read this, as over the last couple of months I have been doing so much I haven’t been able to procrastinate. Hit the end of last week, and that was it for productivity. I didn’t want to do anything… now working on getting back to a better place and you hit it right on the head. For me, when I don’t procrastinate the more “successful” I am. Best motivation I have! PS. Love you on instastories, Rosie and you make my day!

    • Thanks, Courtney! And Rosie thanks you too. (She’s such an attention hound.)

      And you hit the nail on the head. When procrastination goes down, success goes up!

  3. I have gotten worse about putting off unpleasant tasks, and let bad experiences (like your extended call to the tax commission) slow me down even more. I’ve started making myself tackle something difficult, but then rewarding myself with a cup of coffee or something else that is pleasant. I’m happy to know it’s not just me! I’ll remember this in the morning when I have to fix a bank issue!

    • Your idea of rewarding yourself with something pleasant is brilliant! I love that you do that, and I’m totally going to do that. And bank issues are the worst. Seriously.

  4. I could list them but the list would be too long. In short, I’m like you. I procrastinate things that seem like they will be difficult, tedious or time consuming. I don’t think you’re alone here. I think most people do that because we lead such busy lives we just want everything to happen fast so we can get onto the next thing.
    It’s like wanting that Staples Easy Button, which by the way I’m getting for work to put on my desk because we just want things to be easy. It’s that simple.

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