Sand seeping through hands

4 Timely Ways to Overcome Procrastination Quickly

With HUGE delight we welcome our guest blogger, Sonya Kaiser.  Sonya was a high school classmate of my son and has now graduated from University of Pennsylvania in Biological Basis of Behavior with a minor in Psychology.  Sonya is bi-cultural, with a French father and American mother, and has lived on several continents.  She currently teaches in a bilingual pre-school in Seattle, Washington, USA.

It’s a treat to benefit from her scientific knowledge of the brain and its impact on behavior.  It’s also an honor to feature a young woman whom I knew as a teen and is now a colleague.  She’s keeping me on my toes!

Please do let Sonya know what you think of her article! Which of the Procrastination Traps catches you most off guard?!  How do you overcome it? Share your questions about neurology and time management in the comments.


Sand seeping through hands
Time running out

We’ve all done it, thought “I’ll do it tomorrow”, left an assignment to the last minute, procrastinated a task for so long that eventually we just forgot we wanted to do it in the first place.

Procrastination is an enemy to many and the best way to handle it is to know your enemy.

Did you know that procrastination can be caused by a few  psychological patterns? Which one of these speaks to you?

Procrastination Causes

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure

The reason that is most commonly brought up is a fear of failure.

The feelings of anxiety or self-doubt that come over you when you’re unsure whether you can complete a task successfully can quickly become crippling and prevent you from getting started.

Even worse, as time goes by, you can start overthinking and building the task so much in your mind that it becomes harder and harder to overcome that fear.


Kids in viking costumer with shields
“No way!”

Another possible cause of procrastination is a sort of self-defense mechanism, to maintain a positive view of yourself.

Your sense of self-worth is often determined by your ability to successfully complete tasks. This is why it’s often easier to check easy tasks off your to-do list than more challenging ones, why you might tend to avoid anything with a higher likelihood of failure.

Procrastination can also be a convenient defense if you do end up failing.

If you don’t give yourself enough time to complete the task, you can blame the failure on the lack of time rather than your own lack of ability, which in turn enables you to maintain your confidence in your abilities.

Problem for the “Future Me”

Einstein in color graffiti
“I’ll be smarter later”

Another common reason to procrastinate is the idea that your future self will be better equipped to handle the task. You might think you’ll be in a better mood, less tired, or more emotionally prepared in a few hours or a few days and you leave the burden of your task to a future you.


Which of the above have tempted you the most?!  Fear of Failure – Self-Defense – Delegate to “Future Me”

Want help setting up your Pro-Doing-It-Now plan?  Ask your question here.

Strategies to Turn Procrastination Around

Divide tasks into smaller pieces

Watermelon cut into smaller pieces
Chop, chop

This will make them seem more manageable. It’s always less daunting to start a task when you can picture the end of it.

Tips for parents

Instead of writing “clean the house” on your to-do list, try “tidy living room, do laundry, mop floors, vacuum floors, fold clothes”

Tips for students

Instead of writing “write 10-page essay” on your to-do list, try “find topic for essay, research for 2 hours, write an essay plan, flesh out essay”.

Set tangible deadlines

kitchen time
“Driiiiing!” Time is up.

If a deadline isn’t imposed by someone else, try giving yourself one. Self-imposed deadlines are generally less effective than external ones, but they’re better than nothing!

Tips for parents

If you do give your kids a deadline, try using “when” rather than “if”. For instance, try saying “When you’re done cleaning your room, we can play a board game” instead of “If you clean your room, we can play together”

Tips for students

Try setting a timer to encourage yourself to work for a specific amount of time without stopping or getting distracted.

Block access to distractions

Fence with this way sign
Stop. Turn. Go.

It’s so easy to let your attention wander. As an adult, the main culprits are often distracting websites like social media or streaming services. But kids can be distracted by anything that moves, anything that makes a noise or even by their own exciting inner lives.

Tips for parents

Try keeping your kids’ attention focused on boring tasks, like putting on shoes and coats, with a little song that you can all sing together.

Tips for students

There are a few great apps that can help you block websites in a more effective manner than just self-monitoring, like SelfControl and StayFocusd.

Find joy in the task itself

Boys in garden
“Joie de vivre” – Contagious joy.

It always helps productivity and mood to think of tasks as things that you want to do or get to do, rather than things you have to do. Try to make tasks either positive, worthwhile or entertaining in some way.

Tips for parents

Add a sense of competition to dull tasks like getting ready for school. The first person who’s completely ready gets to ring a little bell! Ready, set, go!

Tips for students

Instead of sitting down or pacing while studying some flashcards, put on some music and have a little dance party!


Woman gently holding vulnerable child

Give a Gentle Answer

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Family Tickets to the “Calm Anger” Parent + Child Workshop
from SoSooper 

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Today’s gift invites BOTH disagreeing parties to join in fun activities and guided discussions to

  • Clarify the issue of dispute
  • Identify triggers to outbursts
  • TOGETHER find solutions to gain agreement
  • Make a routine chart to stay on track

Parents and children leave with a practical action plan to BOTH avoid outbursts AND resolve them quickly when they happen.

And it’s fun!


WHO is the REAL opponent?

The parent, the spouse, the child, or the issue?

Isn’t is amazing how a simple issue can suddenly escalate into a battle between parent and kid?  In our coaching we hear worried parents ask, “What is wrong with my child?… What is wrong with ME?!”

Take heart.

“Children who argue have good character qualities like persistence, perseverance, determination, creativity, and an ability to communicate ideas. The problem with arguing is that your child views you as an obstacle.”

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, in Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids!

How to get out of arguing with children?


Boxing girl by Frank deKleine


Let parent and child partner together in finding a solution.

It takes two people to have an argument.

And BOTH arguers contribute to the disagreement and BOTH can orient the exchange towards peace.

Miller and Turansky remind us that the subjects we argue about are often not THAT important.


Images by Madi Robson from Unsplash, SoSoooper, and

Angry Zax screaming

Stop anger-gangrene:  Love vs. Be right

Angry words.

“This food is disgusting!”

And, just in case the entire dinner company had not heard the announcement correctly,


Earlier in the day, this mother and her son enjoyed an outing at the neighboring pick-your-own farm where they harvested fresh corn.

Golden and shining with butter, the corn-on-the-cob now lay steaming on their plates.

Girl eating corn on the cob

“Yummy” to most of the family.

“Yucky” to one…

…who decided that if he had to suffer, then everyone would too.

My friend looked at me dolefully as she shared the story.  Then admitted, she wished it had been a child speaking.

The anger-spewer was an adult.


Being Right Fuels Anger

School of Etiquette 101 teaches that insulting the cook is impolite and wrong.  School of Life teaches that if you want food for dinner tomorrow, talk nice.

From the school of Mom-of-4-Boys, I know how much sweat, elbow grease, time, money, AND LOVE go into meals.

Planning.  Shopping.  Preparing. Eating. Teaching table manners. Cleaning.

And over again.

Rude comments à table just slice up the atmosphere.  Conversation is chewed up.  The mood and the food lose their spice.

I understood her anger and feeling of justified ire in the face of purposeful insults. ESPECIALLY from an adult.  Aghhh!  Those repeated times trying to set a good example being swiftly undercut!

My friend poured out her frustration and fury.  She was RIGHT.  The other one was wrong.


And yet…I wonder if the other person felt justified in spouting these purposeful insults too.  There usually is another side of a story.

My friend was not ready to hear that.  Not while she relived the feelings of being shamed in front of her children and of having her parenting efforts dismantled.  So, I stayed with her.  Just stayed…until she readied to move out of…reliving the pain.

Our feelings don’t just linger as emotions; they lead to decisions and actions. 

Often hurt leads to revenge.

Often hurt leads to revenge. Click to Tweet

Yet, what a cost.  When the sh__ hits the fan, there’s LOTS of clean-up.  Too much for my taste!


My friend’s issue centered on corn-on-the-cob comments.  You and I will have another.  And we will ALL face the same choices:

  • To focus on the behavior…or on the relationship?
  • To choose to be “Right” …or will I choose to love?
  • To try and change other people…or to venture to grow ourselves?

I choose to change me.

It might sound easy.  IT IS TOUGH.


When Being Right Means Being Stuck in Anger

In no way do I condone disrespectful comments or inappropriate table manners.

At the same time, I don’t want to be a Zax either.

In this Dr. Seuss story, the South-going Zax and the North-going Zax met up and neither will budge.  They “reason” (a.k.a. argue). “Discuss” (a.k.a. butt heads).  And stay stuck, arms crossed, faces frowned.  Meanwhile life progresses around them.

Angry Zax screaming
“I’m right.” “No, I am Right.” ” NO!!! I AM RIGHT (bleep)”
Angry Zax stay mad
The two stubborn Zax stuck in their tracks…

If a relationship has a chance, someone must make a conciliatory move. 

And the only person I can control is me.


I remember when I tried to mend a bruised relationship.  I used “I statements” like, “I felt hurt when you _______ (spoke meanly about the food) and I would like to hear you recognize that ______(those were mean words).”

The person stormed out of the room.

I tried again a day later.  “You have to learn to let go,” I was told.


Choosing to Love

That response hurt.

And part of me wanted to let the relationship go.

Yet I choose to stay connected.

It means choosing to love even still…

Nelson Mandela is reputed to say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

I want to live.  Richly.  Fully.

Not feebly in between sips of arsenic.


It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person.

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person. Click to Tweet


Loving above & beyond Anger or Hurt

Here’s what helped me let go.

Look at what to hold onto

Not focusing on the hurt is like not thinking of the pink elephant.

Every time you try, it looms LARGE.

Instead choose to concentrate on something positive

  • To define respect in your home
  • To heal the other’s wounds
    (Those who hurl revenge often harbor hurt)


Focus on the issue (vs. taking it personally)

If there were no grain of truth, an insult would have little hold.

An offense aims to distract from the issue to the person.  We all mess up.  It does not make us a messed-up person.

Go on a treasure hunt to identify the underlying grievance.  Does it concern your behavior?  Might it belong to the other person?

It could be their need to feel loved, belonging, and able to contribute.  We humans become superbly AWKWARD in expressing our deepest needs!

Maybe your and my vision is blurred.  Our “attacker” untucked a hidden issue (like, “you take care of the kids but not me”).  We would have trouble hearing the message even if it were kindly said…

Is there a “right” person or a “good” way to learn DIFFICULT lessons?!


Get encouragement elsewhere

Airplane security guidelines ALWAYS indicate that in case of turbulence to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

How are you and I getting that required boost?

Schedule self-care.  Make time to do one thing that makes you feel better.

Do it before the crash!


In an ideal world, we might commune over every topic with our spouse.  We don’t all live in Utopia at every second of the day.

It’s too much to ask of anyone to completely fill our emotional needs.  Could you do that for others?  (I cannot.)

Give your partner a break.  You and I will need them to let go for us too.

Bon courage!