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20 Sneaky Procrastination Traps That Almost Ruined My Life

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Outsmarting Procrastination: Navigating 20 Mental Traps for a Successful Life

Procrastination is an uphill battle. And when you think you got over it, it turns to bite you. I know because I have been fighting with it for my whole life for different reasons.

When I was younger, I didn’t love the topics I studied. And everything else seemed more interesting.

Then, Facebook took over. And it was impossible to avoid getting sucked into it. And then Instagram and TikTok. Doom scrolling became an epidemic, and I was one of its victims.

I was aware of the problem. But I didn’t know how to fight it. And to be honest, I don’t even think I ever wanted to get over it.

But life forced me to grow up. And I had to fix all the flaws that made me fail in everything I tried to achieve.

I had to understand and avoid the 20 sneaky procrastination traps that almost ruined my life. At that moment, for the first time, I decided to try my best to fight procrastination.

Procrastination is a Coping Mechanism

In the beginning, I thought procreation was something temporary. I treated it as a disease. And I wanted to find a cure.

But after years of trying, I learned there was nothing to cure. I wasn’t sick or different from the others. Procrastination is not an enemy but a symptom you can use to your advantage.

Psychologists discover that procrastination isn’t only a time management problem but a coping mechanism. And when you procrastinate, you replace unpleasant tasks with ones that boost your mood.

So, every time you procrastinate, try to understand if there is a reason.

  • Is there a reason you are delaying your tasks?
  • Do you still love what you are doing?
  • Can you make the activity more appealing and pleasant?

I didn’t search for those answers and fell into 20 sneaky procrastination traps that almost ruined my life. But you can avoid them.

20 Sneaky Procrastination Traps and Their Solutions

The 20 sneaky procrastination traps I will share with you are mental traps you will eventually meet that can ruin your life. They are thoughts that each of us have. But if not addressed, they could become recursive and problematic.

So, let’s find out how to fight them.

1 — I still have time.

Sometimes, you will delay tasks because you overestimate the available time. You think you still have time to do everything you must do. But then, you wake up one or two days before the deadline. And you have to do everything in a rush.

You can do better than that.


  • Learn to evaluate each task to understand how much time it will take. For example, you could track your timings.
  • Or, if you have never done a task before, plan it preemptively. Try to finish it days before the deadline so you can manage any problems along the way.

2 — I did enough for today.

When you work on tasks you don’t enjoy, every excuse is feasible. And even if you started working, the procrastination danger is still lurking in the dark. Eventually, you will think you did enough for the day and feel exhausted, even if you worked for half an hour. So you will use that excuse to escape.


  • Fix a minimum time for each task and force yourself to remain on it even if your progress is minimal. You can’t reach deep work on every activity. But you can push yourself to be disciplined.

3 — My goal is unreachable. I can’t do it.

When you don’t know your potential, you will set unreachable goals. And you will fail. If you do it enough times, you will fear failure and develop a mental block towards some goals.

You will think all of your goals are unreachable. And you will underestimate your potential.


  • Split your goals into small achievements. If you think they are unreachable, reduce them to what you can accomplish. And once you restore your self-belief, you can aim higher.

4 — I have to find the perfect moment.

The perfect moment is when you start working on your task. And the illusion that something will change in the future will only make you procrastinate.

You may hope your feelings will change because of how you feel today. But it’s a circle that never ends. And your fear is the only fuel that keeps it alive.


  • Progress is more important than perfection. So give yourself a deadline even for tasks that don’t have one. Otherwise, you will always wait for the perfect moment and never achieve anything.

5 — I will be more motivated tomorrow.

The motivation illusion is similar to perfectionism. Some days, you will feel unmotivated and weak. And this sneaky mental trap will make you think tomorrow will be better. It will give you an excuse to do nothing today. But nothing will change.


  • Motivation can help you in many ways. But when it lacks, you must work with discipline.
  • Time-tracking and win streaks are the best ways to achieve discipline. And if you still can’t do it, force yourself to work at least 10 minutes on your task. Sometimes, those 10 minutes could become hours.

6 — I can do it with my eyes closed.

Task underestimation can cause more problems if you work on it close to the deadline. And only because an activity took you less time in the past, it doesn’t mean it will be the same in the future.

So don’t underestimate your tasks — you could miss fundamental deadlines and fall behind on your roadmap.


  • Tracking your time is always the best solution. So you always know how much it takes to finish an activity on average.
  • But you could meet some tasks you have never done. In that case, split them into subtasks you know or can estimate better.
  • You can also use the planning fallacy rule — double the time you think a task will take.

7 — I’m not ready yet.

Feeling unready is the opposite of underestimating your tasks. But you can’t always prepare for something and never try to achieve it.

When you tell your brain you are unprepared, it will search for excuses. Therefore, you will procrastinate on a task and never start it.

But if you work without excuses, you will find out you weren’t as bad as you thought.


  • Better done than perfect is always a good rule of thumb. So don’t classify tasks you have never done as impossible. Try to finish them first, and then you can decide.
  • Use the two-minute rule to start working on a task, even if you are not ready. Forbid your brain to think for more than two minutes about its insecurities. And you will do a better job.

8 — I can take a day off.

When you work too much on a goal, your mind will stress over it. So it will feel the necessity to take a day off.

But one day off is acceptable. It becomes a problem if one day becomes a week or even more. That is a sign of burnout or uncontrolled procrastination. And you have to address it preemptively.


  • Plan your breaks with diligence. You don’t want to burn out, or it will become harder to resume your progress.
  • Don’t underestimate any task. If you think you can do it in less time, finish it first and then take a break, not the opposite.

9 — I don’t know where to start.

I often struggle to understand how to start a new activity. The discomfort kills my vibe. I feel stressed and shameful. So, I procrastinate, thinking about something else to escape that feeling.


  • New tasks will always bring discomfort the first time. But that doesn’t mean you have an excuse to procrastinate. Force yourself to identify the first simplest subtasks you can do first. And do it before having to start it while you are still planning.
  • Another way of beating this mental trap is to start with what you know. Leave what gives you discomfort and do what doesn’t. And then, after reaching a deep work state, give it a try.

10 — It doesn’t matter if I fail.

I often ignore the consequences of my actions. And I used to be worse.

Since I started writing online, I split between fundamental and secondary tasks. And everything that had to do with my side hustle was secondary because my life didn’t depend on it.

But when I saw all my goals fail and my dreams crushed into pieces, I understood my side hustle was part of my stability.


  • Every time you set a new goal, make a list of consequences that will occur if you don’t achieve it.

11 — I have too many things to do.

Choice overload is a prioritization problem.

You will always have to face procrastination if you don’t know which of your tasks has the priority. In those cases, you will tend to do nothing or start with the easiest task. But soon, simple tasks will finish, and you might risk exceeding deadlines.


  • Time blocking is a solution for too many choices because it forces you to plan how you spend your hours in advance. Each week, you will assign an activity to every free hour. So you will never have to deal with choosing what to do first.

12 — First, I want to chill a bit.

Your brain develops to seek gratification. And everything you do has the only purpose of making you feel good.

In the past, people had few things that made them feel good. They used to work on long-term goals that could bring them joy. But today, we have an overload of gratification systems. So we don’t seek it too much because it has become too accessible.

But instant gratification drains your motivation. You can’t feel the drive anymore. And you will probably procrastinate. For that reason, delayed gratification is always better and brings many benefits.


  • You can use immediate gratification to boost your motivation for future challenges. That’s what I call the ETF (Easiest Task First) strategy. Some people suggest that works better for them. But I prefer the other way.
  • The HTF (Hardest Task First) strategy makes you struggle with the first activity. But then you will perceive everything else as simple. So, this strategy works better for me.

13 — I can do everything in multitasking.

I have already talked extensively about the problems with multitasking and residual attention. Shortly, every time you do more than one task in parallel, your brain will still think about the last thing you did for 23 minutes. So you won’t reach a deep focus state of mind because your mind is elsewhere.


  • Avoid multitasking at all costs. It might seem like multitasking can save you time, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, you will lose more time if you multitask, and your brain will get exhausted first.
  • Prioritize serialized tasks instead of parallel ones.

14 — Nobody cares if I fail.

Who’s telling me anything if I fail at my side hustle?


Does that mean I can work only when I am in the mood? No, of course not.

If nobody worries about you, it may be challenging to commit to anything. So, if you want to skip one day, you won’t feel any immediate shame or guilt that would force you to work.


  • Finding an accountability partner is the best way to overcome the lacking accountability mental trap. You can ask a friend or family member or even pay someone to do it for you (even if this is a bit extreme).
  • But if you can’t have an accountability partner, at least keep yourself accountable for what you do. Commit yourself, and respect your choices.

15 — I can do it in less time than others.

Misjudging the time required for an activity is another fundamental topic of procrastination. And you will use this mental trap to give yourself more free time leveraging your self-belief.

But if you don’t have any clear indicators of your beliefs, avoid this mental trap.


  • When you think you are better than others, search for the evidence. If you find it, you can take a day off. If you don’t, you better start working. And most times, you won’t find any evidence.

16 — Every task is more important.

Sometimes, you will lack prioritization. But other times, you will ignore it even if you have it.

You will work on some activities because they are simpler. And you will always delay meaningful tasks.


  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix to identify tasks by importance and keep it always in front of you.

17 — It is too difficult to get started.

I used to avoid tasks that were too difficult because I feared failure. But then I failed a couple of times. And my brain finally got used to the try, fail, and learn routine.

But if you never try and delay challenging tasks, you will not fail and never learn.


  • You must expose yourself to failures if you want to grow. So, engage with challenging tasks and give your best. If you succeed, you will gain a lot of self-confidence. And if you lose, you can transform the experience into a lesson.

18 — Others will always do it better than me.

I compared myself with other content creators for ages. And I didn’t understand why I couldn’t work as fast as them. I couldn’t bear people being better than me in any way possible. And these thoughts killed my productivity.

Nothing matters if you don’t believe in yourself.


  • Don’t compare yourself with others because there will always be someone better than you.
  • And if you have to compare yourself with someone, pick people who share a similar path to yours. Otherwise, you will distort the comparison.

19 — I failed too many times in the past.

You cannot control luck, but you can beat it with consistency.

For some people, success will come easy because of a lucky situation. Others will work to reach their success for years. You cannot control it.

But if you give up after the one-hundredth failure, was everything you did before worth it? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time?


  • If you commit to something, keep going. Think about what you sacrificed. List everything that you renounced for that goal. That list would stop you from quitting.

20 — I have to make the perfect plan first.

I always loved perfect plans. Even today, I switch plans multiple times and use many applications to track my progress.

But you won’t achieve anything if you want to find the perfect plan first. You will lose most of your time planning and will have none to do what you must.


  • Planning is fundamental, but keep it limited. Set a weekly planning session of about one hour and a daily update of 10 minutes. You don’t need more.

Final Thoughts

I used to procrastinate a lot, and these were 20 sneaky procrastination traps that almost ruined my life, making me fail the goals I care about the most.

Often, your body responds to discomfort with a waste of time. But sometimes, you trigger it yourself with one of these 20 sneaky procrastination traps. So, learn how to recognize them before it is too late.

That were the 20 sneaky procrastination traps that almost ruined my life, but if you want here are 20 dangerous time-wasters you might want to stop.

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