How I Learned to Overcome Procrastination (mostly)


Confession: I used to be the worst procrastinator. So bad in fact that I turned in my own college application late. #truestory

In college I still put things off, pulling all-nighters during finals week and for most of my major papers. It wasn’t until after college that I learned how to get things done more consistently.

How did I do it?

One day I read something that really hit me:

The next time you think, “I’ll do it later,” do it now instead. Repeat this 20 times.

I don’t remember where I read it, but I do remember feeling tired of not getting things done.

So I tried it.

And it actually worked.

It took about three weeks to really notice a change in my behavior, but I think that doing 20 things in a row right away helped kick-start the change.

I’m still not perfect.

Even though my default mode has shifted from “I’ll do it later” to “I’ll do it now,” I still sometimes procrastinate. When that happens, I tend to have a conversation with myself that sounds something like:

Motivated self: I can’t believe I haven’t done [whatever it is]. I’m ridiculous.

Procrastinating self: Don’t worry, you’ll get to it.

Motivated self: Maybe, but I feel lazy and like it’s weighing on me. I want to get it done.

Here’s something else that helps:

When I’m still having trouble finishing something, I think of this thing that a wise friend once told me. This wise friend had broken her procrastination habit and was, like me, a perfectionist. She told me this: “Sometimes I have to stop obsessing about getting an A and just get a B+.”

I was like, “Ooh. That’s good.”

So that's my advice to you, especially if you’re a perfectionist:

Stop obsessing about it and get a B+.

Is your perfectionism leading to procrastination? If so, stop obsessing and just do it. #nike

Here’s proof that this is an ongoing process for me:

Want to know the last time I procrastinated? Yup, this article.

Then this morning in the shower I had a little conversation with myself and heard my friend’s words, “Get a B+.”

So that's what I did. I got out of the shower and got it done.

It may not be perfect.

But it's done.



Written by Ethan Sawyer – In addition to being the College Essay Guy, Ethan is a writer, teacher, speaker, and voice actor. He has worked at Elite since 2003 is also the coordinator for the Elite Community Scholars Program, a program very close to his heart. You can email him at The views expressed in this blog post are Ethan's and don't necessarily reflect those of Elite Educational Institute.

Posted on March 5, 2014 and filed under Study Tips.