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I'll write my blog tomorrow. A guide to procrastination by an expert....

It's been 8 long months since I last wrote a blog article. That sounds like a confession right? It also sounds like some massive procrastination going on right here!

If you are unfamiliar with this word, and let's face it, it does feel a modern word, here is a definition. Procrastination might be defined as the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions.

Some people think that procrastination is laziness. But in the time since I last wrote a blog article, I've held down numerous different roles, both paid and voluntary, written about 17000 words for a Masters Course and seen clients for around 500 hours alongside the session preparation.

Yet I still call myself a procrastinator. Perhaps I am just an expert plate spinner? However, I am aware that whilst I may be busy, I do still procrastinate.

Herein lies the issue. Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, says that “everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” He has completed research which suggests that as many as 20% of adults are true procrastinators, meaning that they procrastinate chronically in ways that negatively affect their daily lives and produce shame or guilt.

If you procrastinate, you can find 1001tips for procrastination online. Examples include:

Don't set the bar too high

Break down larger tasks into smaller steps

Keep each task small

Write down your tasks

Do a power hour

Make it fun

Let it go - decide you're NEVER going to a sticky task

The list could go on and on. Most of these lists are very cognitive and behavioural.

But if you are what Ferrari calls a TRUE procrastinator, what I am wondering is WHY are you procrastinating? Often there are emotional reasons to consider. Indeed this may be more about emotional regulation, or about unresolved emotional issues.

Procrastination may present alongside many other mental health issues — ADHD, eating disorders, perfectionism, anxiety, or depression. This is because it is an avoidance strategy, which can create psychological pain. This may then that lead to these mental health issues. Procrastination may mask initially, for example, as an over-eating disorder. Comfort eating may regulate the discomfort of avoiding a task.

A psychotherapist or counsellor may help a client to really drill down to the underlying issues and unresolved emotions, in a way which a client may find difficult to do alone.

I would be interested in identifying :

The "shoulds" or "musts" - the expectation of our internal Parent (often handed to us by our own parents in childhood). Essentially we are talking about intergenerational stuff that isn't really ours, but somewhere back in our past. This is the inner Critical Parent. How can we counter this with some Nurturing Parent energy?

What is our internal Child thinking? Is the Child fearful, or even catastrophising? Is there a fear of failure? eg. if I get this one task wrong, then I have failed.

What beliefs are in operation? Are there any "I can't's" around? Beliefs are usually not true, and they may need busting and replacing with more helpful beliefs. A belief such as 'I have all the resources I need to get this task done" might help.

I also like to consider a person's Drivers. One of these in Transactional Analysis is known as "Be Perfect". If this is around for someone, then I know they will always have to do something perfectly in order to be OK. This may then be a cause of their procrastination, because they may build this into a bigger task than it really is. I think this is where my issue may lie!

With a really good investigation into these things, and the person really understanding how this process works, I would then be looking at strategies to help move the client forward.

I do believe in what I call 'chunking down' - breaking down a larger task into a series of smaller tasks.

I believe in examining the smallest change that will make the biggest difference. Making a small change, can lead to a domino effect of bigger changes. But just as important, achieving a small task or change helps to demonstrate and give a person confidence that bigger tasks or change is possible.

The above certainly will set a process in place of focusing a client's mind on what they can do , rather than what they can't do. Collect evidence of your can-do's and remember it for next time! I often like to ask clients not just what they can do, but what they WILL do.

If there is perfectionism, then I would certainly want to work with a person to identify what would make achievement of a task good enough. No one can be perfect all of the time. If you show me someone who is perfect, I'll show you a liar.

I do believe in reward for completing a task or series of connecting tasks. What would motivate each particular person may be different. However, we do need to try and co-create sensible and sustainable rewards, and not install any mal-adaptive practices. Avoid harmful rewards - food, alcohol, drugs.

Psychotherapy can really help with examining our processes, and making sustainable change. If you would like to find out more about how I can help, get in touch.

Talking Works

If you would like to find out more, I would welcome a conversation with you.

All my contact links and social media links can be found on my website :

Or, why not book a FREE Zoom consultation with me at a time to suit you?

If you prefer the phone, that's OK - you can book that here :

I hope to speak with you soon!


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