5 signs you're procrastinating and how to stop

"Just get started" is one expert's mantra to help procrastinators get moving.

Story highlights

  • People procrastinate while trying to replace frustrating emotions with happy ones
  • Regular procrastination can jeopardize health and relationships
  • Experts recommend creating small goals and cutting out distractions

(CNN)You had every intention of starting that work report first thing Monday, but now, the deadline looms large.

Sound familiar? You might have a problem with procrastination.
    "We procrastinate because we give in to feel good," said Tim Pychyl, associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa. "If a task makes me frustrated or bored, avoidance lets me escape those negative emotions."
      Procrastination actually becomes a problem when it undermines your well-being and your health, said Pychyl, who wrote "Solving the Procrastination Puzzle." Severe procrastination can lead to stress, anxiety and relationship problems. It may even cause you to neglect health problems such as heart disease.
      The first step to managing procrastination is to understand that it's a coping strategy to deal with unhappy feelings.
      "You have a 6-year-old alive and well inside of you (who) gets hung up on how you feel or what you want," Pychyl said. It could even be something benign, such as shopping at the market, which you put off for no obvious reason, he added.