There are those who think we procrastinate because we are inherently lazy or because we get enjoyment out of finishing at the last minute. However, there is a growing body of scientific studies that support the idea that there are 3 basic things that make us procrastinate:
1. The project is forced on us and is not consistent with our values.
2. The project is boring.
3. The project is too hard and you are frustrated at a lack of progress.
Dealing with a project that is inconsistent with our values is perhaps the most difficult job situation to deal with. In my own case, I was told by the administration to doctor a scientific report so it would support an administration project. I told my bosses that our report was sound and whether or not they chose to do the project was their political decision. That is the same dilemma EPA scientists face when told to destroy their data on climate change.
Dealing with boredom is much easier. Take a break and come back to the project. You might want to work on the project for an hour and then shift to something you enjoy. If that boring project is something you have to do, make it the first project you work on at the start of your day.
A basic rule of MBO (Management by Objectives) is to break a project down into manageable steps. Each step is clearly defined so you know when you have completed it and it has a realistic deadline. Checking off a completed task is definitely motivational.
Know your purposes in life. What is important to you that is your reason for living. Divide your life up into your major responsibilities:
1. Your faith
2. Your family
3. Your work
4. Your personal health, development, and hobbies
5. Community volunteering.
List the things that are important to you and make sure you don't neglect any of them. You may have to concentrate on one thing for a short time. But if you are working 80 hours a week and never see your family, you are out of whack.
When your life lacks balance, you are in a high-stress situation. Sometimes you cannot do anything about it. If you are the principle caregiver to an aging parent, you know what you have to do. You can try to delegate some of the responsibility, but sometimes that is impossible.
In the end, we do what we have to do. Just make sure that projects you accept are the ones you can say, "Hell Yes, that is something worth doing." Say No to everything else. If a project is assigned by a boss and you cannot say NO, do it good enough and get it out of the way as fast as possible. Procrastination will just add to your stress.