Are you a procrastinator?

Are you a procrastinator?

Are you a procrastinator?

Many of us will be familiar with procrastinating – putting off or avoiding a task that needs to be done. If often seems as if the more we have to do, the more we procrastinate. There are two types of procrastination, active and passive.

Active procrastinators work better under pressure, they may choose to leave a task until it’s right down to the wire because they thrive on adrenaline.

Passive procrastinators do so to the detriment of their performance. According to a 2013 study procrastination has nothing to do with poor time management or laziness, it occurs because of our inability to manage negative emotion surrounding a task, either focused on an aversion to the task itself or because of the feelings the task provokes ‘I can’t write this, I don’t know enough about it, my boss will criticise me.’ These thoughts then make us procrastinate further.

Procrastination is closely linked to perfectionism, low self-esteem, fear of failure or of moving forward in our lives. Often procrastination is a red flag that we are finding it hard to cope, it can be a symptom of an underlying issue such as stress, anxiety or depression.

So, if you are a procrastinator what can you do? Here are some tips.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind to yourself, and don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating. Just accept that you do it. Try and write down some positive things about yourself, perhaps something nice a colleague said to you, or think about a previous time you completed a similar task and it went ok.

Make a list

Start by making a list of everything you have to do. Break big tasks into smaller manageable chunks so they don’t feel overwhelming and set realistic deadlines for each task.

Block out time and remove distractions

Estimate how long certain tasks will take and block out time in your calendar to complete them. Work out what times of day suit you to complete certain tasks, for example if you’re a morning person you might be better at drafting a document first thing and want to save admin tasks for the afternoon. If possible, turn off your phone and email notifications during these times so you don’t get distracted. You can also block your access to social media on your phone during certain times of day.

Make a start

It’s easy to say just do it – but sometimes exactly what you need to do is just make a start on something. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Build in rewards

It’s important to build in rest time or reward yourself for meeting deadlines. Perhaps make a deal with yourself that you’ll get a coffee after you’ve completed a certain task, or you’ll go for a walk after clearing your inbox. Short breaks and time away from your desk improve your energy and focus.

Seek help

If your procrastination is starting to become unmanageable call LawCare for support on 0800 279 6888, email: or visit LawCare offer free, independent and confidential support to people working in the legal sector. All calls, chats and emails are responded to by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in law.

About the author
Elizabeth began her career as a clinical negligence solicitor and has managed mental health charities for over 15 years. Joining LawCare as CEO in 2014, she champions the belief that mental health and wellbeing are collective responsibilities within the legal sector. By uniting the community, she aims to create a sustainable and thriving legal profession,...