We might like to think we’re in control of when we choose to put things off, but that’s not necessarily true. The last time you procrastinated, did it feel like more of an automatic reaction than a true choice?

In a recent WebMD article, William Knaus, EdD, co-author of Overcoming Procrastination; Do It Now — How to Break the Procrastination Habit, states that procrastination “is an automatic habit process that leads to needless postponement.”

Sometimes learning that procrastination has become an automatic process makes my clients think, “OK, so beating this procrastination thing is going to be much more difficult than I thought.”

Habits Can Be Broken

The good news is that with consciousness, commitment, and support, habits like procrastination can be broken and replaced with something that serves us better.

Psychology Today shares how to shift our internal view of procrastination: “It’s difficult to change our habits, and accepting that it’s hard work can go a long way toward increasing your willingness to do it. Remind yourself why you wanted to procrastinate less, and how uncomfortable you’re willing to be in the short term to feel better in the long term.”

Besides acknowledging why you want to change and knowing that change will take work and practice, I also find that it is helpful to start to notice where procrastination starts and figure out how to catch it early before it snowballs and becomes stressful. When I work with clients, I help them pinpoint that moment where they start to automatically postpone something and then we figure out together how to do something different in that moment that is consistent with productivity. We also talk about when it is healthy and appropriate to delay doing something. Let’s face it—sometimes we just can’t do everything ourselves and we need to prioritize, delegate, or just say “no”.

The reality is that you need to look at the automatic process of procrastination from several different angles to successful change it and the great news it that is can be changed. Talking with someone else about your procrastination and seeing if you can figure out where it starts, is one way to start to look at the automatic habit from a different perspective.

Identify Your Next Steps

If you’re ready to change from a habit of procrastination to a habit of productivity and success, click here to find my private coaching, group classes and self-study courses. I’ll help you to identify what’s key to work on and all the pieces that you need to beat procrastination.

If you’re ready and willing, you can start to change the procrastination habit with the steps above—and I’m here to help you succeed.

Sarah Reiff-Hekking