Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

Why am I Procrastinating? 5 ways to Stop or Reduce Procrastination

Midlife woman's sweaty face. with her dog and The Body Coach workout on tv in the background

3 min read with coaching questions


Putting off tasks is common: we’re often aware we’re doing it and that it’s (possibly) not good for us, yet we do it anyway.

So why do we procrastinate? Can we stop it, or procrastinate less?

This blog will talk about some of the reasons why we procrastinate, how it affects our wellbeing – the emotions and what we can do to help ourselves when it’s in play. If at all.


An expert in procrastination

I have GREAT expertise in procrastination as a midlife woman! So I hope you get some good insights to help you from this post. Plus what I see in the people I work with, and what helps people stop procrastinating.

Procrastination paralysed me in one particular role when my kids were very small and I was stressed with work and being a mum. It literally gave me the fear – stopped me from getting on with my work and behaving normally, but that’s what stress does to your mental health.

Now I procrastinate before my regular HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout – just one example! The extraordinary amount of procrastination disguised as ‘faffing’ before my workout includes;

  • Tidying up the front room (where I’ll do it – I like things to feel ‘ready’ for me)
  • Getting my playlist just right on Spotify – to spur me on
  • General huffing and puffing about the fact that I’m about to do the HIIT workout


And yet, I do my workout. I always feel better afterwards, just like the lovely Joe Wicks, The Body Coach advocates.



Looking at what I do – my emotions, behaviours and thoughts, might give you clues into what’s going on and why I’m procrastinating – and why you might be too.


4 reasons why we procrastinate

  1. No instant gratification – distraction kicks in.   We’d much rather focus on something that gives immediate reward and get a dopamine hit. Think chocolate over a HIIT workout – chocolate wins right!
  2. Seeing a task as one long or hard project.   I know the workout will be hard – that’s kind of why I’ve bought the app and this HIIT Cycle is REALLY challenging me.  I know effort and time is involved but I’ve only a limited amount of time to do it
  3. Lack of confidence or low opinion in your abilities (self-efficacy).   If you doubt your abilities, or lack confidence then you might feel anxious even trying. Irrational thoughts take over your rational mind and stop or sabotage you. Also links to perfectionism and fear of failure. This was me in that job I mentioned – I lacked confidence in my abilities and my self-esteem was low
  4. Task aversion.   There’s some discomfort you might experience by doing this task ie it’s difficult/boring (or something else), so you dodge or park it instead


These reasons tend to crop up often in my coaching 1-2-1 and group work. And this subject was well discussed on our last Midlife Women’s Walk and Talk in March.



Can procrastination be a good thing?

This was the reflection from one of my NetWalkers when I ran an informal Netwalking event recently. And the answer got us thinking – YES it can.
Sometimes we procrastinate because there’s something else going on that requires our attention.


4 reasons why procrastination can be a good thing

  1. You’re tuning in to our gut instinct – something feels off and we lean into it
  2. You’re actively choosing to procrastinate – empowering!
  3. You work better under pressure
  4. You need to work something through first: thoughts/emotions – mindset, before actually doing it – acceptance that you’re procrastinating


4 women in a group outdoors, lake in background, selfie
Netwalking with The Nurture Club



There’s research around active and passive procrastinators.

However, I’m reluctant to categorise people into having ‘fixed traits’: they’re not helpful.


Yet awareness of what you're doing in the moment, is.

Procrastination can be a good thing: we can reframe procrastination from something perceived as largely negative to positive. Then it’s empowering.



Mindset and being kind to yourself

That last 4th reason is me before a workout ‘You need to work something through first, thoughts/emotions – mindset, before actually doing it – acceptance..’.

I procrastinate before my workout because;

  • I need to emotionally download and mentally prepare myself.
  • I accept that I am procrastinating; the effect is that it motivates me to do the workout
  • I get the negativity/ nerves out of my head, I talk out loud, I start to enter a positive mindset and tell myself enthusiastically, ‘Come on Kate!’.


This I recognise, is super important for my mental wellbeing. The power of acceptance, positivity and being kind to yourself.

And if that doesn’t work, Plan B:


Reflecting on my professional observations as a Life Coach and my personal experience, I think that procrastination works in partnership with motivation. Like that ‘nervous-and-excited-at-the-same-time’ feeling; they are polar opposites, yet understanding one – why we procrastinate,  unlocks the other.



Overcome procrastination in 5 ways

Here’s some suggestions on how to reduce or stop procrastinating:

  1. Work out when you were last motivated.   Really explore what was going on so that you understand what was going on for you at that moment
  2. Just do 5 minutes.    After 5 minutes you have the choice to continue, or stop. Many of us will continue for longer, because there’s a feeling of ‘I may as well’ or, ‘I can probably do more’. I talked about this when I was trying not to eat meatballs at IKEA last year – read HERE to find out if it worked!
  3. Chunk it down.   If a task seems like one long or hard project, especially if you feel overwhelmed by it, chunk it into bitesize pieces to make it manageable and achievable. The Pomodoro Technique works really well for time. You’ll get the added benefit of focus too
  4. Change your scene.  Does your work environment bring you down? Move somewhere more inspiring. I love working in a local cafe with headphones on – the right amount of interaction with people I know, fab coffee and a wonderful atmosphere that I can dip in and out of.  I’m often at The Journey Cafe or Snuffle Dog Cafe (yes – we have our own dog cafe in South London!)
  5. Talk out loud and to yourself in the 3rd person – ‘Come on Kate!’ – positive self-talk is good for emotional regulation – keeps you calm, centred and focused. This appeals to my strengths


And if that fails, like I said, Plan B. JUST DO IT.


TOP TIP: congratulate yourself on;

a.   awareness you were procrastinating

b.   recognition that you overcame procrastination



Life Coaching questions on procrastination and motivation


  1. What one word describes how you feel during procrastination? Explain.
  2. What gets you motivated? Write as much as possible
  3. When do you tend to procrastinate? Explore one example about what goes on
  4. If your self-talk is negative, what does that voice say? Write it down.
  5. How could you re-frame that voice to something kind or positive instead?


Finally, the Latin meaning for Procrastination is;

‘belonging to tomorrow’.


Thanks to Emma from The Nurture Club for this wonderful post and enlightening me on the Latin meaning. It’s like that reframe I mentioned earlier with a dose of kindness.


If you’re a self-employed person and want some face to face nurturing, motivation and banter in South London, Emma's group is great to be part of. 


What do you need today, that belongs to tomorrow?


How do you overcome procrastination? Email me to let me know!


Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.