Procrastination – Dropping the Struggle

‘From a mindfulness perspective it is about setting aside the struggle and the argument with yourself

so you are better placed to take a small step towards achieving what you had previously avoided’


Procrastination loves the struggle. It thrives on the rationalisations that we make in order to avoid doing what we have previously committed to, and are now struggling just to get started. The more you struggle, the more you will find that procrastination wins. This is until fear of the consequences of not finishing the work jolts you into action and you make a rush for the finish line. At this stage the stress becomes exhausting and debilitating, not to mention its impact on the quality of the final product.

If you can picture yourself struggling with an issue and having this internal battle, you will be able to see that it is difficult to move forward because you become so engaged in the fight. As the struggle progresses we develop anxiety and loathsome feelings for what it is we need to do. These feelings create a cycle of despair where we are not even able to start, let alone complete the task we know is looming large over us.

So what is the alternative? From a mindfulness perspective it is about setting aside the struggle and the argument with yourself so you are better placed to take a small step towards achieving what you had previously avoided.

Mindfulness is about accepting these feelings and anxiety and quite simply dropping the struggle with them. We know that the longer we struggle, rationalise and despair about a particular task the more we are fuelling our avoidance and our fatigue.

The trick is not to get into an exhaustive internal debate about all the things that need doing – the complexity and the enormity of the task – but to simply move towards one small action. And it is here that this simple mindfulness technique may help you.

By using the START acronym to help drop the struggle you are able to quieten your over active mind and the issues and anxiety that it keeps presenting for you to deal with.

Find yourself a quiet place where you will not be interrupted for around 5 minutes and with either your eyes closed or fixed on a spot in front of you commence the following steps.

Stop what you are doing close your eyes or fix them on a spot and focus on your breathing. Completely empty your lungs then allow them to fill naturally – repeat this 3-4 times – then allow your breath to find its natural rhythm. As you are doing this…….

Take note of and observe the uncomfortable feelings associated with the task in front of you. Do a brief body scan and notice these feelings with curiosity as though you are experiencing them for the first time. Notice also the thoughts that come into your consciousness then……….

Accept the feelings by making room for them and allow your thoughts to come and go.  Avoid getting hooked and struggling with them. If you start to get hooked up focus on the breathing again. Once you feel you have ceased the struggle………….

Return to what is happening around you at this moment and mindfully notice what you see, hear, feel and smell. Without getting re – hooking on your thinking………

Take one small step towards your objective/task with curiosity for the task and without expectation, judgement or struggle

It may be difficult at first to simply focus on your breathing and allow thoughts to come and go and to accept uncomfortable feelings but keep trying. Mindfulness improves with practice so keep practicing and try using this exercise at other times during the day.

Author: Graeme ByeDecember 9, 2016


Graeme Bye is an organisational psychologist with a background in corporate organisations in HR and Leadership Development.

He coaches individuals and teams and includes mindfulness practices and techniques to improve effectiveness, manage stress and achieve focus.