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How to Stop Procrastinating by Doing Nothing

by Alice White about a year ago in goals

Yep, that’s the way to do it

How to Stop Procrastinating by Doing Nothing
Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

Procrastination and I have been long time enemies. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been struggling with postponing my work till the last minute.

I would fill my time with more enjoyable things like binge-watching Netflix, scrolling through Instagram, or watching YouTube videos. I was always good at distracting myself from all the work piling up.

But despite doing the things I love, I didn’t have a good time. I felt awful, even though I was doing something that I enjoyed.

I wasn’t able to relax and was anxious all the time. A voice in my head would tell me that I should be working, but I couldn’t resist procrastination. I felt like I had no willpower and was pretty unhappy with myself.

I’ve read hundreds of articles on overcoming procrastination and watched endless hours of videos on the topic. None of the advice was very helpful. And soon, I realized that watching motivational videos was a form of procrastination too.

But one time, I accidentally stumbled upon a pretty unique piece of advice that changed my perspective on the problem. I realized that I was looking at it the wrong way for all these years and finally made some progress. I hope this advice can help some of you too.

When you can’t start doing something, do nothing.

This might sound silly at first. Why would I want to do nothing when I’m so worried about not doing all the work I’m supposed to do?

There are multiple reasons.

It’ll help you calm down.

When we are procrastinating, our mind is pretty stressed. There is an endless battle between the part of you that knows that you have to start working and the part of you that refuses to do it. It creates a conflict that puts a lot of pressure on you to decide which one of them is right.

If you sit down and do nothing for some time, it’ll help you relax, reconnect with yourself and let go of worrying. It will be easier to step back and make a better judgment of the situation.

If you start this exercise by meditating, you’ll get extra points and even more peace of mind.

You will get bored.

So, how is this a benefit?

The main idea of this approach is that you have to get bored. You have to get so bored that doing the work you’ve been putting off would seem fun.

I find it easier to stop doing anything rather than push myself to switch to a less fun activity, so this worked pretty well for me.

You will become less stressed about time.

Sometimes the main reason for my procrastination is worrying about not completing the work in time.

I feel like something might go wrong or that the task is too challenging to complete in a given time, and I will fail my deadline. This irrational fear gets so bad that I can’t do the work.

When you sit down and do nothing, you get so bored that you start feeling like time has stopped. You realize how much of it you actually have to complete everything you have to do.

What are the rules?

I found that it is better to be sitting in a comfortable chair, but not too comfortable, so I couldn’t fall asleep in it.

If you practice meditation, the position and place you normally use will most likely be a good fit for this.

You can’t nap or snack during this exercise. You also should not check your phone or listen to music or entertain yourself in any way: no music, no podcasts, no reading.

The only thing you are allowed to do is anything from the to-do list that you’ve been putting off — either that or nothing at all.

You don’t have to force yourself to think about your uncompleted tasks. You don’t have to convince yourself that you want to do them when you don’t. Don’t lie to yourself about how you feel.

All you have to do is sit calmly, do nothing, and wait.

For me, it takes between 5 to 20 minutes to get bored enough to get to work. But it might be different for everyone.

This might seem like a waste of time, considering you are doing absolutely nothing and just letting the time go by. But I know that otherwise, I would’ve spent much more time doing useless things.

If I sit still and do nothing, I become calmer and have better chances to get in the flow once I start working. I worry less about all the made-up reasons why I could fail. I tend to self-sabotage my work less, and I feel like this method really helps my procrastination anxiety.

Final thought

I’m not saying that it is the answer to all of our procrastination problems.

This works very well for me on most days. Sometimes I even skip the doing nothing part and go straight to work. I did this so often that even the thought of not doing anything again makes me bored enough to start working.

However, I still have some bad days. Sometimes it is too hard to turn the tv off or get off Instagram before I’ve wasted a couple of hours.

It’s important to learn not to worry about it too much and to accept that you are not perfect. Noone is. All we can do is strive to become a little bit better and try again next time.

Disclaimer: The original version of this story was published on another platform. Link to the original version -


Alice White

Hi there! I'm Alice. I love reading, writing, coffee and cats. I write about self improvement, relationships, productivity and reading.

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