Planning & Procrastination: The Overwhelm Barrier

Planning & Procrastination: The Overwhelm Barrier

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It has been over 5 years since I penned, Overcoming Procrastination. Reading it again in reflection on another project, I noticed that I had not defined the barriers that support procrastination. Allow me to rectify that oversight in this post along with an additional solution: Planning.

Planning: SchedulingYour best tool against procrastination is planning. Most people think the cure for procrastination is motivation, but that is mistaking the experience of productivity with the mechanics of being productive. The experience of being productive may feel like motivation, encouragement, and success. But, the mechanics of getting started, maintaining, and celebrating small gains are what is needed at the beginning of a productive session. As you explore “getting started” further, you realize the barriers that were overcome to achieve the productive state. These barriers define procrastination: overwhelm, perfectionism, and fear of failure. To overcome these barriers, planning is the best answer. These barriers are common and predictable. That means that you can plan to address them or avoid them altogether.


Overwhelm is the feeling that the walls of tasks are closing in on you. It often comes about because you have a general sense of the tasks that you must accomplish, but you have not made a specific list of tasks. The “feeling” is that it is a lot that will take a lot of time, an impossible list. The reality is less threatening and more possible.

The other support of overwhelm is a lack of knowledge about the process, tools, or techniques for what needs to be done. When you don’t know where you are going to get help, information, or guidelines tasks seem oppressive. You would rather avoid it. When you do attempt to get busy, you face the reminder that you don’t know what you are doing. The cycle can be increasingly disheartening.

Solving Overwhelm with Planning

Intentional Planning List

Pro-CAP Structure Worksheet

Planning addresses this by clarifying the list and granulating the list to add education that may be needed. An advanced version of listing includes the proposed time allotment for each task. Clarifying involves sitting to intentionally write down your list of tasks. Note tasks that are on an immediate or soon-arriving deadline. Include all the tasks you can think of, even events that are later in the month or year. Note those that are this week and this month as a priority. Release yourself from the worry of tasks that are due later in the year.

Granulate your tasks accordingly if they require information, instructions, or correspondence. Schedule time to meet with people, call, or research processes and how-tos. Give yourself credit on paper in the form of your list for taking care of these prerequisites.

[Continue the discussion with Perfectionism and Fear of Failure.]