5 Ways Overwhelmed Overthinkers Can Beat Procrastination

What to do when you’re procrastinating AND an overwhelmed overthinker? When the things you procrastinate on are actually important, it’s time to break the cycle. Sometimes it’s tricks like the ones in this post that give you an extra push to be motivated and not procrastinate so you can finally get things done.

When I ask my email subscribers what their biggest struggle is that prevents them from reaching their goals, I get a lot of responses. By FAR, the most common issue is procrastination. 

Procrastination is SUCH a major struggle for MANY people. We know it’s a problem. We wish it weren’t. But sometimes we fall so far into the hole, we don’t know how to climb out and get things on track again.

I don’t presume to have all the answers for your particular situation. But as a fellow procrastinator who still manages to fight hard enough to get something done every day, I have some insights and tips that may help you.

Ready to beat #procrastination? Check out these 5 tips! #goals #productivity Click To Tweet

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Why Are You Procrastinating?

The first thing you have to do is figure out WHY you’re procrastinating. Some days you may have a nagging headache, some days the sun may be shining and you would rather spend time outdoors. Different reasons require different methods to get moving again.

To defeat procrastination long-term, you need to get really good at quickly recognizing the TRUE reason you’re not moving forward. Then you need to take specific steps to combat that situation.

There are plenty of reasons for procrastination. This is not a comprehensive list, as I’m more concerned with what you can actually DO to get moving again. Still, recognizing your issue will help you choose which tips to use first.

woman looking at busy street

1 – Health Issues

One thing to consider is that procrastination itself is linked to and suspected of being a possible cause of stress-related mental and physical health problems. (Better Get to Work: Procrastination May Harm Heart Health – Psychological Science) That in itself should be enough to get you moving. If it doesn’t scare you into action, you may have a more serious health concern requiring medical intervention.

When you have health issues, it’s sometimes difficult to determine the difference between whether you are procrastinating or just having a bad health day. I do NOT have the answers for this. But I do have some resources you can check out:

Dealing with mental health issues: A Splintered Mind Blog and Chipur Blog

Dealing with physical health issues: Mom’s Small Victories Blog and Chronically Strong

Related article: Is Your Chronic Procrastination Actually a Matter of Mental Health? – U.S. News

If you suspect you may have a health issue, please visit your doctor! A professional can help you seek treatment or rule out the possibility that your health is affecting your ability to get things done.

2 – Self-Doubt and Perfectionism

text on parchment background with open pocket watchSelf-doubt is a biggie. Self-doubt is the persistent voice inside your head constantly whispering “not good enough” or “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “who do you think you are?”

That self-doubt can lead to what many people call perfectionism. What happens? You become petrified of failure. You refuse to fail, to lose money, to “look stupid.”

To prevent that possibility, you take in ALL the information — blog posts, books, Facebook and dedicated forum threads, endless videos… You become a knowledge “expert” without having to do any actual work or gain experience.

Thus, you convince yourself you haven’t failed.

But you have failed, because you never actually tried to do that thing you thought would be interesting, or fun, or profitable. I don’t want that for you, and I hope you keep reading to find out how to turn things around. Always remember, “Done is better than perfect.”

3 – The Overwhelmed Overthinker

Now THIS issue is one I’m extremely familiar with. Because it’s me. At random times during the day, I’ll find myself sitting and staring off into space, my mind spinning with a neverending list of things that really need to get done and the numerous possible scenarios of what could happen if they don’t get done or if they don’t go exactly right.

So what can I tell you about getting past that overwhelmed state where you’re paralyzed because your mind won’t stop thinking about #allthethings?

Well, you can read this post: Stop Thinking and Start Doing – A Goal-Setting Starter Plan

I wrote that post to help you set the groundwork to get past this hurdle. Basically, do this: brain dump, find ONE FOCUS, and don’t worry about all those stupid little things. Teach yourself to look at the big picture of what you REALLY want and need.

This post is meant to give you more information geared specifically toward beating procrastination. Please note that these suggestions are the ones that work best for me. Your mileage may vary.

 

strong woman throwing punch at sunset

5 Ways to Beat Procrastination

A lot of people will tell you to take small steps toward your big goals. Many different small steps every day will help you reach all of your goals. Sounds nice, right? A little bit of effort here and there, and eventually, magically, everything you ever wanted will be accomplished. And you will have beaten procrastination without even realizing it. 

Ri-ight.

(To clarify, I’m talking about the method of doing a little bit on all of your big goals every day. This is different than the “small” things that need to be done every day — those are habits and routines. It’s also different from breaking down ONE goal into separate actions.)

The problem is, small steps on many goals at once don’t work for everyone. I love the idea, and I LOVE that it works for some people. Heck, maybe it works for most people. But for me, nope. And I suspect that’s the case for many overwhelmed overthinkers.

You know what happens when I try to do #allthethings in small steps? A whole lot of nothing. Because it’s too easy to look at that tiny step I’m supposed to do today and think, “It’s so tiny, and I have so many other things to do, I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

Then I’ll start thinking about all those other small steps I’m supposed to do every day. A-a-and that’s all she wrote, folks. My brain starts to spaz out. (Ha! How many years has it been since you heard that term? Can’t hide my inner 80’s girl.) Too many things on my mind shatters my focus.

So if small steps aren’t working for you either, try these ways to beat procrastination. 

Click here to Pin this post to read again later.

1 – Get Visual

This could be a physical planner, a calendar, a printable daily planner page, motivational phrases, a vision board — anything you can keep in front of you ALL THE TIME.

It will help you remember WHAT you are working toward, WHY you’re working toward it, and HOW MUCH TIME you have to get it done.

If something digital actually WORKS for you, then go ahead and use it. But think about this — if you’re not moving forward and getting things done with your digital planner or calendar, then it’s not ACTUALLY working. Try something physical, where the constant sight and touch will make you feel closer to the project and continually motivate you.

open pocket watch on wood table

2 – Reset Your Sense of Time

First, set a specific goal with a short deadline.

Now, start thinking about that deadline in hours instead of days or weeks. According to the Psychological Science article mentioned above, by changing your thinking in this manner, the deadline will feel closer and you will be more motivated to take positive action sooner.

This idea was new to me, but I started changing those numbers in my head a few days ago and it really does make a difference!

3 – Use Technology

If you’re an overwhelmed overthinker, you may have ADHD, or you may not. Either way, I’m gonna lay odds that you get distracted super-easily. This is why you need safeguards in place to protect you from yourself.

Use a timer, ALWAYS. You can do this two different ways with the timer on your phone. One, set it to count down a certain amount of time for working. Or two, if you always underestimate how long it takes you to do things, use the stopwatch feature, turn your phone over, and go about your task in the normal way. When you’re finished, check to see how much time it took. You’ll probably be surprised.

Put this information to use when creating your daily routine and schedule. If you only give yourself 30 minutes to do something that you’ve proven to yourself always takes an hour, just give yourself the hour. Otherwise, you’re likely to not even begin because you KNOW 30 minutes isn’t enough time. Or, at the end of the day, you feel like you’re hours behind because you scheduled too tightly.

Use technology to eliminate distractions. Apps like ColdTurkey, Freedom, or the StayFocusd Chrome extension can help by automatically blocking the websites you designate during the times you choose. If something like Facebook is your downfall, be sure to use an app that works across all of your devices so you don’t “cheat” by getting on your phone’s FB app when you’re supposed to be working on your laptop.

4 – Develop Your Finishing Instinct

For one day, finish everything you begin. Even if it’s only one thing, stick with it and complete it.

How do you feel? Tired? Accomplished? Amazed that it took so long to do one thing? Or surprised that you got it done so quickly?

Do the same thing the next day. And the next… and the next… until it’s habit to ALWAYS finish what you begin.

5 – Build Passion

Passion trumps procrastination.

I cannot say it any more simply than that. If you do nothing else, you MUST become overwhelmingly passionate about one focus. Preferably something good, ‘kay? Not video games or keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip. Please?

START NOW

I certainly hope you found a tip or two here that has motivated you to work on beating procrastination. If you have, would you please do two things?

1 – Share this post on your favorite social media outlet. Click HERE to Pin or use sharing buttons at the top and bottom of the article.

2 – Get off the computer and get to work! You’ve got this!

text over split image of happy productive woman holding clock above note on desk that reads so many things to do

text on organized desk flatlay with pale green pen, watch, and clothespins

10 thoughts on “5 Ways Overwhelmed Overthinkers Can Beat Procrastination”

    1. Hi Michele! Thank you so much for the comment! It made me think again about what I had written… I went back and clarified that I meant “a few small things” on all the DIFFERENT goals. I totally get that breaking one big thing into smaller tasks can help. Everyone loves a clear plan and crossing things off their to-do list, right? 😉 It’s motivating! Thanks for reading!

  1. Well Julie, you have hit all the right nails on their heads. I feel a sense of motivation to at least try to get over this “habit” of procrastinating…yes for every reason you mentioned…I have definitely been thinking that its high time I visited my doctor to get a thorough check up and of course I know that its partly due to a depressed mental state….getting older, not achieving what I expected, not feeling happy for a long time with work and marriage, not completing various training courses and collecting a certificate or diploma, frustrated with my teenage daughter, untreated medical issues, financial problems, a whole host of issues converging to create an overwhelmed state of mind and resulting in my not moving ahead on any front.

    I also don’t have any one person that I can share my burdens with so maybe that’s also an issue because there is no one to push me and encourage me and ensure that I do the things that I should, there’s no one that will go the extra mile because everyone believes I am so strong and capable and intelligent and should know better.

    Sigh…..

    1. Hi Marcia! Yes, it really does get extra-difficult to make progress when all of the issues you mentioned converge. It sounds like you recognize the first step could be a visit to a professional. Sometimes nothing else can possibly fall in line until we get our head straight. Once that happens, it’s much easier to determine which issues we can actually DO something about, and then what needs to be done first. I would love to see an updated comment here soon where you talk about how much better you feel and the positive steps you are taking.

    1. Hi Whitney! I keep a notebook next to the bed where I can write things down if my brain won’t shut off. Thanks for visiting and I’m glad you liked the post!

  2. I’m an overwhelmed perfectionist. Always reading/learning and rarely doing, at least not up to what I’m capable of! I just found you on Pinterest (shared a few of your pins) and am now reading your posts. They are just what I need! Thanks for helping your fellow over-thinkers!

  3. Wow # 2 is totally me right now and I’m actually frustrated with myself for being this way. Since resigning from my job all I do is watch videos and read posts about 2 possible career paths but can’t seem to give myself the approval to pay for a true course to teach me what I fully need and just get on with it! It is paralyzing- and keeps me from enjoying life. I truly found this post informative and so valuable. Thank you- seeing you put it out there like that (and knowing I’m not the only one) lets me see it from a different angle and it is just what I needed!

  4. Hi,
    I’m also a over thinker who has been stuck for now 5 years inn one place not talking any steps forward, sometimes missing on opportunities. I now feel depressed and pressured by people thinking I can do better.
    I know some of the problems come from a failed marriage. I am encouraged by this just to know it’s not me alone and you have touched on trying to achieve small goals at a time.
    Will definitely share. Keep moving.

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