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Is procrastination keeping you stuck?

Do you talk about doing something new but never manage to succeed in doing anything about it? Rather than beating yourself up because you’re not doing it - gently ask what you might be avoiding?

Nir Eyal says ‘Procrastination is the avoidance of pain’. What pain or discomfort are you trying to avoid with your delaying habits? Eyal says that ‘If we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort.’

We distract ourselves in many ways, but do you question the root cause of your distraction? Eyal explains four psychological factors that keep us stuck in procrastination - boredom (putting off boring tasks), negativity (remember the bad things that have happened or the things that could go wrong), rumination over bad events or experiences and our tendency to want satisfaction ‘quick fixes’ or chasing things that we think will satisfy us and ultimately don’t (scrolling on our phones is a good example here).

If you challenge the pain factor first, you may be able to work through it and tackle the job you’ve been putting off. Every time you notice yourself procrastinating, question ‘what pain am I trying to avoid here?’.

Nir Eyal’s book In-distract-able has some great practical tips at moving through distraction, getting familiar with the discomfort and living a more focused life.


Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, working with individuals and groups to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma works face to face with clients in the Cambridge area as well as via Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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