3 Helpful Steps for Procrastination

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2023/10/18

“Procrastination is like a Credit Card; it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”
Christopher Parker

As I’m starting this article, I’m aware of tension in my body and brain. I’m in a delightful coworking session with a small group of people, each person silently working on their own task.

My thoughts before I started writing:

“Will I know what to say? Will it flow, or will it start feeling like hard work? What if no-one reads it? Will they judge it? What if I make a mistake? What if it’s sh*t and I must start all over again with a new angle? I would have wasted my time! That’ll be frustrating!”

All of those have been true for me in the past. My body feels tenser and tenser… I can feel my shoulders creeping higher toward my ears… It’s the familiar uncertainty of the creation process.

Procrastination keeps us in our comfort zone and in safety

Had I not been in this coworking session at 8 am on a Monday morning, I might have made a cup of tea instead of writing. In fact, I would probably still be in bed reading.

I knew it was my first Monday task to write this article, and I had only a vague idea of the topic. It would have been much easier to procrastinate with something easier, safer, and more in my comfort zone.

Every single week I go through this process. Even though I love writing and it brings me clarity and healing to get everything out on virtual paper, I still (after 10 years of consistent writing) face the procrastination Monster (or Messenger, as I’ll share later).

Do you know this feeling?

It doesn’t have to be about writing. Maybe for you, it’s another task that will make you feel vulnerable. Something like:

  • asking for a raise at work (raising your fees if you work for yourself)
  • reaching out to a colleague about a project
  • having to phone for an appointment you dread
  • asking for help
  • making a video for your business
  • talking to a client about something uncomfortable
  • having a difficult conversation with your partner
  • insert your own here — where do you procrastinate?

The truth: Procrastination is a solution

When we feel vulnerable about the outcome of a task, procrastination is a clever solution. It helps us to avoid a projected uncomfortable process or outcome.

We diss procrastination, yet it’s a strategy that intends to keep us safe. If we don’t do ‘the thing’, then we can avoid the projected bad outcome and we’ll be safe! The trouble is … we want the completed task. The published article or book, a video, or a satisfactory solution with our colleague or partner.

So we make ourselves + procrastination the villain and say things like

  • “I wish I would just get ON with it!”
  • “I’m such a procrastinator!”
  • “There I ago — I’m doing it again!”
  • “I’m ashamed that I can’t just make myself sit down and write”
  • “What’s wrong with me?”

We blame and criticize ourselves, then we feel guilty or ashamed … which just makes it worse. Who can start with a difficult task if we’re already feeling like a Loser? Not me.

Reasons for procrastination

I’ve already mentioned that procrastination is a solution to avoid a scary outcome. Now — if we can see the procrastination as a messenger instead of a villain, we can hear the message instead of feeling terrible that the messenger is at our front door again.

I’ve generally found 5 categories for procrastinating:

  • I fear the outcome will be bad
  • I fear the process will be uncomfortable
  • I don’t know how to do the thing
  • I don’t have clarity — I don’t know where to start — the task is too big
  • It’s just not actually the priority (and maybe we do need to rest!)

In all cases, there are usually an emotional component, as well as a practical one. For the first 2 in the list above, the emotional content is by far the biggest. If we fear our writing (article, book, blog, video, request to a colleague) will be judged, criticised, or rejected — it’s awfully hard to get ourselves to willingly walk towards that scary outcome.

The same with no 2: If we fear the process will be boring, hard, an effort, and draining — what good reason on earth do we have to tackle it? Our brains are made to go towards a reward, not towards the effort.

That’s where the Messenger concept is important. If we can find out what is really going on underneath the surface of our procrastination, there are so many options going forward.

Real-life examples of thoughts that lead to procrastination

Just after my first book was published in 2013, a group of aspiring authors shared with me, their reasons for not writing. They all had a yearning to write, yet these underlying messengers were stopping them.

  • I’m not good enough for anything
  • I’m terrified of judgment
  • I fear the spotlight
  • The book will not be good enough
  • The book won’t sell
  • I don’t have an interesting topic
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I have so many ideas, but I can’t decide what to write about
  • I take too long to write
  • Who am I to write a book giving others advice when my own life is in such a shambles?
  • I don’t have self-confidence
  • What else do I need to endure in my life before this book finally comes pouring out from inside of me?
  • The unworthiness and lack of belief in myself overwhelms me
  • I have too many other commitments right now
  • There’s already a book with my title on the racks
  • I need to grow a huge network before I can start writing
  • How will I find a publisher once I’ve written the masterpiece?
  • I was taught to stay small, in the background
  • Who am I to step into the limelight?
  • People will try to knock me back where I belong
  • If I stand out and shine, others will look worse and feel bad

Can you see how most of these are emotional reasons? Fear and doubt, mostly. No-one said, “I don’t know how to write”.

Of course, EFT!

By now you might know that I’ll always recommend EFT tapping for any emotional contributor to a problem. It’s the simplest way I know of to calm the part of our brain that is looking out for our safety. When that part (Amy Amygdala) is fearful or angry, we simply cannot think clearly nor act calmly. Amy checks between 12 and 100 times per second if we’re feeling safe — and if not, she (or he 😊) tries to steer us in the direction of safety. One of those ways is procrastinating on the scary task.

I, too, identified with many of the reasons in the list above for not writing my own books. If it wasn’t for EFT, I probably would still have been wishfully thinking about them.

I know this place all too well, dear {subscriber.first_name}. I’m not immune to it. The difference is nowadays that I can more quickly recognize that I’m being held ransom by a fear, a doubt, a reluctance about an outcome that I’d rather avoid.

And then I can sit down and do my trusty tapping for a few minutes, calm myself sufficiently to at least make a start. And once I’ve started, it’s far easier to keep going.

Here’s a short summary of my process:

  • Awareness
  • Discovering the deeper message
  • Do the tapping


It all starts with awareness. Nothing can change if we’re not conscious of an issue. Can you catch yourself when you’re “busily” procrastinating? What’s your red flag?

Things like:

  • Making yet another cup of tea
  • Tidying the room and your desk
  • Folding the laundry (!!)
  • Scrolling on your phone
  • Doing 101 smaller things that are not a priority
  • Watching a series on Netflix
  • What’s yours?

As soon as you’re aware that you’re indulging in those activities, start with simply acknowledging it, with absolutely no judgement whatsoever. A simple “Oh, my goodness, how fascinating. I’m using my favourite strategy to avoid something.” That’s it. Just awareness. Only now can something start to shift.

Discovering the deeper message

Now, you can ask yourself:

  • What am I afraid might happen if I finish this piece of work?
  • What’s the outcome I’d rather avoid?
  • Or — what are my thoughts about the actual task?
  • Too hard, draining, boring, I might hate it, I don’t know where to start?

Jot down a list. It’s usually more than one. When you look at the list, you might not be surprised anymore that our old friend Procrastination is trying to save you from all those horrid (projected) outcomes!

Then, thank the part of you that’s doing the avoidance behaviour. It’s trying to serve you, to help you stay safe, to not experience awful emotions. It really has a positive intention, and there’s no need to judge the behaviour when we truly get this.

Do the tapping!

EFT (tapping) can help calm the now-response to the (projected) outcome. If you don’t know how to tap for this issue, here’s a simple recipe.

Write a statement about your fear or concern, eg “It’ll be a horrible piece of writing and someone will judge it.”

Notice where in your body you feel any possible sensations. Butterflies, tightness, tension, breathing changes.

Now, focus on those sensations and say the statement out loud, as you tap through all the EFT points. You don’t need a ‘perfect’ round of EFT to do this. You don’t need to do a course in how to do EFT. Just be aware of the sensation, bring the fear to mind, and tap silently through the points a few times. (This video is a part of a video course to teach how to do EFT for yourself, so ignore the reference to it.)

Are you procrastinating tapping because you feel like you’ll get it wrong? I get it!

Here’s a procrastination video where you can tap along with me. The tapping part is from 8 min 30. (The first 20 secs of the video is awful quality, absolutely no Perfection there. It was a live recording with connectivity issues. Please excuse that part and watch from 8:30 for tapping.)

I’ve found the more times I use EFT for this issue, the less often I procrastinate. Gradually, we start lessening our fear of difficult feelings.

I hope you’ll give it a try and help yourself to get going with that task that seems like a mountain right now. More often than not, procrastination takes far more effort than actually getting the darn thing done!


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