In the words of American author Mark Twain, “Never put off ‘til tomorrow what may be done after tomorrow just as well”.


Unwittingly, many of us live by this maxim. Have you noticed how those undesirable “to dos” always seem to fall to the bottom of your list? And how frequently you don’t attend to them until your back is up against the wall?


Complicating matters is the fact that there are many reasons we tend to procrastinate; here are a few:


  • We have difficulty delaying gratification in order to face undesirable tasks, before attacking more enjoyable ones. In other words, we want “dessert before dinner”.

  • The task at hand may be anxiety provoking. If we do nothing, we erroneously convince ourselves, at least we can’t fail!

  • Depression, situational or clinical, can cause a temporary or chronic lack of motivation. 

  • Anxiety in response to a circumstance or due to a clinical condition can make focus, concentration and follow-through challenging. 

  • If we wrestle with ADD/ADHD or executive function issues, prioritizing and organizing can become so challenging that we never actually get to the task at hand. 

  • Last but not least, let’s not forget old-fashioned, garden-variety laziness!


Be honest with yourself; do you all-too-often sabotage yourself by giving in to procrastination? If so here are some ways to help break this nasty cycle:


  • Take that hated “to do” and break it down into steps or bite-sized pieces. If fear is the cause of your procrastination this will make facing the distasteful task much less intimidating. Now block out time in your schedule for each of these steps, just as you would a business meeting; this meeting just happens to be with yourself! 

  • If focus or concentration is the problem schedule these steps into your calendar at your most productive time of day. For many folks that’s first thing in the morning, after that cup of java and before life and work get in the way. 

  • If staying put is an issue, use a timer and force yourself to attend to the task at hand for short bursts of time. When the timer goes off allow yourself a few minutes to move around and clear your head. 

  • Make your environment as appealing and peaceful as you can before attacking the undesirable “to do”. Play music that soothes or motivates, depending upon the task at hand; light a candle or drink a favorite beverage. Getting your space organized can help you feel more in control and at ease, but don’t let doing so become yet another form of procrastination! 

  • Imagine how much lighter you’ll feel once the dreaded task is behind you. Then visualize yourself experiencing a reward for a job well done. 

  • Work with a “buddy” who has his or her own issues with procrastination. Commit to times when you’ll respectively do the hated “have tos”, then cheerlead, coach, or if necessary harass each other through them! 

  • There seems to be an app for everything these days and procrastination is no exception! iProscrastinate and Strict Workflow are two of the most popular. If you’re motivated by positive reinforcement try Written? Kitten!, but if you respond better to negative consequences give Write or Die a try.

  • If you just can’t seem to get organized a session or two with an executive function coach could be some of the best money you ever spend.


Finally, if chronic or acute anxiety or depression seem to be at the root of the problem find a qualified behavioral health professional; one with whom you have the right chemistry. Doing this may help you overcome a lot more than just your “manana” mentality.

Kick Your Manana Mentality

by Maud Purcell

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© 2015 Maud Purcell