Procrastination is one of those nasty little catch-22 things we hope to avoid. We get stressed about an overwhelming chore or task, then we procrastinate, which then adds even more stress. And the cycle continues…

Stress is a part of normal, daily life. There’s really no way to avoid it entirely, but there are many ways we can keep it at bay for the most part. It becomes a real problem when too much stress leads to procrastination. It’s almost like we are in a standoff – will we do what we should or do what we want to?

If you are like a lot of us, we do what we want hoping to forget about doing what we should, but it’s still there in the back of our minds, lingering. It’s like that one hair that won’t cooperate and refuses to lay down with the rest of them. It’s the sore thumb of principles and values. It’s doing all the dishes except the casserole dish we need to “soak”. It’s the… well, you get the point.

So how do you combat procrastination when you are overwhelmed? It’s easier than you might think but it’s going to take a little grit and reframing how we think. Here’s how to get started:

Stop the Negative Self-Talk

First and foremost, you are a product of what you think. If you constantly say to yourself that you’re unattractive, how will you ever feel attractive? You are also your worst critic. Knock it off! You’ve got to talk positively if you want positive results.

Try it out and see how it works. Say something nice about yourself. You are intelligent. Simple as that. It plants the seed to want more positivity and praise. It boosts your mood and confidence and does the groundwork for you to steer clear of procrastination.

Impeach the Concept of Perfection

Perfection is simply impossible. Setting high standards is one thing, but demanding perfection for yourself or others is going to lead to hurt feelings and disappointment. Instead of putting so much pressure on perfection, strive for excellence. Be willing to accept good enough so you can move on, otherwise your other tasks will inevitably stack up.

Move Away from the Joneses

Feeling like you are in constant competition? If you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, you need to move to a new neighborhood, figuratively of course. When you are always trying to impress someone else, you are neglecting yourself and your true wants and needs. It’s not only a waste of time, it’s an enormous and unnecessary stressor.

Connect with a Cohort

Use the buddy system to your advantage when you’re trying to avoid stress-related procrastination. First, if someone is depending on you, procrastination not only lets you down, but you also disappoint someone else. Second, when another person is involved it drives motivation up and negativity down. Whether it’s a project at work or a new workout routine, utilize someone else with the same desire to achieve your goals. Less stress and less chance of putting things off.

Don’t Dive Off the Deep End

If you’ve written a list of new year’s resolutions and looked back a month later in complete defeat, here’s why. You bit off more than you can chew. Procrastination probably reared its ugly head and you talked yourself into “maybe next year”.

A complete overhaul of your routine will usually lead to failure, which leads to stress and overwhelm… and yes, the undeniable cycle of stress-related procrastination. If you ease into a new routine, you have a better chance of sustainability.

Bite-Size is Better

While you can’t possibly eat a whole cow for dinner, you can certainly enjoy a nice ribeye steak cooked to perfection. Now process the things that are stressing you out, right this moment, in the same fashion. Procrastination and overwhelm will sneak in through every crack and crevice when the task is looming over you like a dark cloud.

Take your projects one by one and break them into smaller, more digestible chunks. When you make things bite-sized, they are transformed into less intimidating and more approachable chores.

Procrastination is simple. It’s basically the only difference between what you are doing and what you should be doing. Be realistic and admit it when you’ve procrastinated because you were overwhelmed, stressed out or paralyzed by the size of your to-do list. Then apply some of the tips above to help get out of the nasty procrastination cycle that keeps stressing you out!