How to Get Over Procrastination

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Do you often find yourself scrolling through Instagram, texting with friends, or even down some random Wikipedia rabbit hole instead of doing what you need to do? Claire gives you some tips on how to overcome procrastination, including a little self-compassion. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who wants some advice on healthy ways to end a friendship.

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Claire  00:00

It’s a regular day and you’re just scrolling social media. Or maybe you’re researching the best dog food containers, or just making a grocery list. But there’s a nagging feeling. You know what it is? You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Instead, you’re procrastinating.


Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell-Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on NEW DAY, now on your feed three times a week. Procrastination is real guys. And believe it or not, the internet has not made it worse. We’ve been struggling with procrastination going back to ancient civilizations. Even the Greek poet Hesiod wrote about an 800 BCE, cautioning us not to put your work off till tomorrow and the day after, and current research backs it up. People who procrastinate have higher levels of stress and lower well-being. In the real world. undesired delay is often associated with inadequate retirement savings missed medical visits; people even cost themselves hundreds of dollars by rushing to prepare income taxes near the April 15 deadline. The true definition of procrastination is explained as a complicated failure of self-regulation. Experts define it simply as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, even when we know that we’ll suffer as a result. And while everyone may procrastinate here and there, not everyone is a procrastinator. One of the biggest misconceptions about it is that it’s an innocuous habit. People will argue that it doesn’t matter when a task gets done, only that it gets done eventually, my husband, some people will even argue that they work better under pressure, me. But studies show that procrastinators earn lower grades report higher cumulative amounts of stress and illness. It turns out true procrastinators didn’t just finish their work later, the quality of it suffered as to their own well-being. So let’s figure out how to overcome it. I’m gonna get into a few techniques that will help you right here now with your procrastination. But let me just tell you that the research shows the best remedy for procrastination is, wait for it, self-compassion and forgiveness. If you know me at all, you know, these are my favorite tools to use with clients. All right, we’ll get back to those in a minute. But here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Claire  02:24

First, just pick one thing at a time. Don’t try to take on everything you’ve been procrastinating over. Just pick one thing. Often we get overwhelmed by trying to give up procrastination altogether and tackle it. Don’t just pick one thing and commit to getting it done. Start right now. Once you’ve picked your thing, get started on it immediately. And if starting today feels daunting, try this next trick. This is one of my favorites. Try the five-minute task timer. It’s seriously one of the best techniques for procrastinators, set a timer for only five minutes and identify some small action you can do for just five minutes that will further this task. I mean, come on. Anyone can do one thing for five minutes. If you liked the five-minute technique, then move on to an hour. Science shows that working in concentrated blocks of time, followed by short periods of rest can really capture optimal performance. Okay, now back to my favorite, compassion. Forgive yourself for being a procrastinator. You’re a good person, you really want to get shit done. It’s okay that you’ve put it off. For more on that, check out my episode with Dr. Kristin Neff. She’s the guru of self-compassion, and we have such an awesome conversation about it. Peel up the lid of procrastination. Sometimes we’re avoiding something because of a deeper issue. So try filling in the sentence. I’m avoiding this task because or I’m avoiding this task because I’m afraid that and see what shows up. Figuring out what you’re afraid of can help you realize that it might not be as bad as you think. Another thing you can do is find an accountability buddy. Find someone who’s also wanting to work on their procrastination and make it a project together. You can even make it into a game. Choose a day and time within the next week that you’ll complete this task and then tell your friends something like if I don’t complete my task by then I’ll take you out to lunch, buy you coffee, watch that awful movie you’ve been wanting to see. And if you haven’t completed your task by your own deadline, you owe them whatever you promised. And finally, reward yourself. Promise yourself that new watch or pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing than if you get the task done, it’ll feel so good to earn that reward. We all grapple with procrastination in one form or another, but there are ways to overcome it. I really hope you try out these tips. And don’t wait start now. Don’t procrastinate on getting over your procrastinating

Claire  04:53

Now it’s time for your questions. I absolutely love answering them. So if you have something you want to ask me, send me an email at or fill out the form at It can be about absolutely anything, grief, anxiety, general mental health issues, but also about relationships, aging, family, work life balance whatever’s on your mind. You can sign your name or asked to remain anonymous. And then check out these episodes every Monday and Wednesday where I answer your questions. Today, we’ve got one from Amanda in San Jose, California. Amanda asks, How can I immaturely break up with a friend? I feel like there’s a lot of advice out there for ending romantic relationships, but not a lot for platonic ones. Nothing bad happened. We’ve just drifted apart over the last few years. And it feels like the bond just isn’t there anymore. But I don’t want to ghost her. Amanda, this is such a good question. It’s a really important one. Friendships are amazing the people that we get to really choose to love and share our lives with. It’s a really special thing. For me in my life, it’s been incredibly meaningful to having lost my family, I feel like I have created friendships over the years that feel like family and I are just so important to me. But sometimes friendships really do come to an end on their part or our part. And you’re right, we don’t have a typical model for breaking up with a friend the kind of way we deal with romantic partners. I actually had a great conversation with one of my guests, Nadia Bolz-Weber about Friendship Breakups that you can listen to. But I’ll tell you that I have been through my own Friendship Breakups, even a couple of them recently. And they are really hard, and they’re really confusing, and they’ve kind of lingered for me. And I’ve thought a lot about this question. So I’m glad you asked it. You know, I think one thing is that there’s grief when we end a friendship, but it’s an ambiguous loss because the person’s still living. And it’s not the kind of typical thing that we grieve. So moving through that grief can be a little confusing. But it sounds like you know, you’re done with your friendship, but like you said, you don’t want to ghost her.


So I want to kind of go over some of the typical reasons why we end a friendship for you, but also for anyone else who’s listening and might be wanting to think about what to do about their friendships. So here’s some typical reasons circumstances, your lives have changed. You’re no longer working together or going to the same school or neighbors or whatever distance you’ve grown apart in terms of interests or commitments. This is one I struggle with in my life where I have so many friends spread out all across the world almost, and it’s hard to maintain some of those. Lying is another reason, your friend is deceitful. And there’s issues around that in the friendship, negativity, maybe your friend spends more time cutting you down and building you up. obligation, the person’s become an obligatory friend who you no longer enjoy. Sounds like this might be what’s going on for you, Amanda. Rivalry, this is a big one. Sometimes our friends are actually our frenemies. I think we’re all familiar with that kind of weird relationship that we can get into with our friends. Toxicity, the friend that you have is become a toxic person in your life, there’s so many ways that this happens. Values, lastly, your values have become opposed in some ways, or you’re just kind of coming to realize that you really don’t share the same values. I think going into this really breaking it down in this way, you should know that a friend shouldn’t ask you to compromise your integrity, or go against your values or commitments. Your friend shouldn’t lie. Your friends shouldn’t hurt someone or you by doing something. Someone who does these things doesn’t deserve that kind of space in your life. Okay, so now we’ve gotten to the breakup part, there’s several ways to do it. There is the gradual fade out or ghosting. The downsides of this are that it can be really hurtful to your friend. It can also drag out for a long time if this is the route you’re going. But, sometimes this is actually a necessary step people do the ghosting or the fade out of a friendship. And some of the reasons are you know, avoiding conflict or if the friendship is toxic, and the breakups not going to be well received. Sometimes this is the only way to go. I’m not quite sure that’s where you’re sitting with this, Amanda. So let’s keep going into some more ways that we can do this.

Claire  09:13

Having a talk. Having a talk might end things but might also make things better. This is what’s happened for me before I went into a friendship breakup, and thought that we were going to end things and then we ended up talking so much that things got better and now we’re in a good place. But it’s really important to have a goal for your talk. Think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to clear up miscommunication? Explain some resentment, address an old argument or set boundaries, whatever it is that you hope to achieve. It needs to be really clear before you meet and have this talk. And then you talk about how you’re feeling, not what the other person has done wrong. So you keep your goals for the conversation in mind. And then you remember to listen as you talk Another route to go is by taking a break, you might determine by having a talk that your differences just can’t be resolved. So at that point, you terminate the friendship or you take a break. But taking a break can do a couple of cool things too. It can bring a fresh perspective on the friendship; it can bring a moment to calm down. If you guys are upset, it can be an opportunity to miss your friend if you were spending too much time together. And it can just be a really good time to reevaluate the friendship. If you choose to continue the friendship, just be sure that both of you communicate about your boundaries and expectations going forward. All right. Last way to do this is to end the friendship. So sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the chaos that happens when a friendship ends. And that’s something you need to think about going into it. It’s okay, if this is sad, it’s okay. If it’s hard, it’s okay if it’s painful. But in this situation, you simply need to state that your needs are not being met in the friendship and you wish the other person all the best in the future, and you move on, expect there to be grief, expect there to be some sadness and let that be okay. But one last thing I want to say before you go into it is to really try to think about what you might expect from your friend when they receive the information that you want to have a talk or go on a break or n things. They might want to keep the friendship going, they might want to turn it into a different kind of relationship, they may get really hurt and get really defensive. They may not understand why you want to end the friendship, even though you state it clearly. Or they may try to manipulate you back into the friendship. If any of these things happen. Just take a break and take a break from the conversation, take a break from the friendship. eventually things will calm down, maybe they’ll gain some perspective. And you can revisit one of these methods. Again, breaking up with friends isn’t that easy. It can be really complicated. But just remember to be really kind to yourself. It’s normal to feel sad, it’s normal to feel frustrated, angry. Give it time. Just be really compassionate. Again, there’s no really good role models for this. So we got to keep having these conversations and talking about it.


That’s it for today. Thank you so much for listening to NEW DAY. We’ve got three episodes every week. Now on Mondays and Wednesdays you’ll get a tip from me and I’ll answer a question from you. And then on Fridays, we have a longer interview with a guest. Make sure you come right back here on Wednesday. I’ve got some tips to help you inject a little more kindness into your everyday life and who couldn’t use that. See you then.


NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.

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