HoHow to stop procrastinatingw to Stop Procrastinating


Today, I’m going to show you how to stop procrastinating.

Hi, I’m Shelley Treacher from Underground Confidence. I help people to take control back of emotional eating. Learning to develop real willpower is part of this process. So this is what I’m going to talk about today.

I know that I’ve said in previous podcasts, (and I’m always saying it) that it isn’t a matter of willpower to stop comfort eating. That’s still true. There are so many different reasons why we comfort eat. And simply having a lack of self-control is not the main cause. But it is something that you can learn to develop.


Understand self-control & stop procrastination

It’s normal to struggle with willpower. It’s also normal to feel that we shouldn’t be struggling with it. We’re often trying to force ourselves to do things that we don’t want to do, but that we know will be good for us. This becomes exhausting, and it fails inevitably. Because understanding self-control is the thing that’s missing here.

Here’s something you might relate to with your New Year’s resolutions. If you got excited about starting a new diet or going on a new exercise regime, and then it failed, it might have been because you didn’t understand your process well enough. The key to working out how to not lose control is working out how you do lose control.

Contrary to popular belief, investing your energy in that and focusing on how you lose control doesn’t contribute to making you lose more control. Much like feeling negative or focusing on a problem. Somehow, we assume that doing that will make the problem worse, but that’s not true. It’s just sensible, logical, and rational to work out the tiny little steps that led you to fail. And unlike traditional ways of thinking, it takes kindness, not criticism or force, to help you to succeed.

So that’s a good first step. Working out what led you to fail. What impulses you had. What thoughts you had, what feelings you had, what things were happening in your life, all the tiny little steps that led up to you deciding you weren’t going to do this thing anymore.

And by the way, it’s important to think of this as something that you decide about. This is something you WON’T do (in the case of stopping comfort eating or exercising). That is you exerting your will over something. So if you want to look at it this way, your willpower is quite strong. It’s just that we need to tip it in the other direction. So this fits in with all that I’ve been teaching you already about working out what emotions lead you to comfort eat.

It’s the same sort of process. You’re tracing your steps back and working out what’s happening to you or what’s happening in your brain.


The brain & procrastination

So now let’s talk about the brain. The development of self-control started a long long time ago in our brains and it developed through the need to survive. Which took self-control.

I mean, you’re not going to go into the jungle singing your favourite song at the top of your voice if what you want to do is be quiet so that you can catch your dinner. Or avoid being something else’s dinner!

There are three parts and functions of this part of the brain. There’s one part that helps you make all the boring, practical, helpful decisions. Like unloading the dishwasher instead of chatting with your mate for a few extra minutes.

Another part helps you to check your impulses, like not taking anything electrical into the shower. You wouldn’t charge your phone and hold it while you’re in the shower, even if you wanted to listen to that podcast or check that notification you got.


Reasons to overcome procrastinating

One of the things that I teach first of all in my program is to help people understand what their real meaningful reason is for wanting to give up comfort eating or emotional eating. We do a bit of a deep dive into working out what means something to them in life, that would be massively improved if they stopped comfort eating.

The idea here is to keep practising remembering this. The more they remember it, the more it features in stopping them comfort eating. This is also what you need to do here in trying to have more self-control or willpower. Remembering the reason that you want to do something or not do something.

Because the more you practice that, the more it will come to you naturally. The reality is that things like distraction, stress, alcohol, tiredness, and overwhelm; all of these things can make us make the wrong decision. Because they inhibit this part of the brain and our self-control.


Impulse control & procrastination

I sometimes have problems with impulse purchases. And so I’ve been trying to recognise when I’m doing this out of a slight stress response. I went to bed in a rush recently and I made the fatal mistake of checking my phone. There was an advert for mushroom powder on there, which of course is going to be the first thing that you see; you’re going to get pretty hooked into some kind of advertising that somebody else wants you to buy something from. And there’s a lot of psychology involved in marketing, so they know how to hook you in.

I immediately bought Seven Mushroom Powder, thinking, “this is what I need to make me have more energy!” To my credit, I created a pause between looking at the advert and finding a cheaper product. But this all contributes to me feeling productive, which is another little bit of an addiction…

I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t regret that purchase because I think it is giving me more energy. And it makes me feel good in the morning when I have that in my shake! But straight afterwards, I knew that I’d made an impulse purchase. I’d got myself into this little stress cycle of: I must go to bed quickly so that I can sleep, and then not being able to sleep, getting hooked into other things, making an impulse purchase about something that I thought would give me energy, when really, I needed to just relax and go to bed!

So this is an example of what to become aware of. And I can admit that I’ve made much, much bigger, more terrible decisions based on impulse and through stress.

Can you relate to that?

We still have this part in our brain, this ancestral part that gears us towards eating fat and sugar to survive.


Rewire your brain to stop procrastinating

Luckily, there’s a more modern part in our brain that we can tap into.

But just notice for a moment, if you will, that there are these two parts in your brain. There’s one part that wants the cake and is gonna have it. And then there’s another part that wants to be slimmer. That wants more health, that wants to be able to pick up your children, your grandchildren, that wants to be able to go for a walk and wants to be available to your friendships, to your relationships, to your family and yourself.

It’s a constant decision going between these two. How many food decisions or health decisions do you think you make in a day? I know that the people I’m speaking to if you’re an emotional eater or a comfort eater, you know that you make quite a lot of these decisions. But according to research, we all make over 200 of these decisions every single day.

So, how do you tap into the part of your brain that can control these impulses, that can lean towards doing what’s best for you, when reaching for the food, or not exercising and sitting on the sofa, cosy in the warm, is so much more instant, and satisfying, and appealing?

Well, as I’ve said, You first need to recognise that you are making these decisions. Otherwise, your brain will default to the autopilot. Then you need to get to know every step along the way to the problem.

I know it’s harder for me if I have chocolate lying around if I have time on my hands, and if something upsets me. There are little pieces of brainwashing like,

“Oh I’ve got to finish that food, it’s in the fridge, just finish it, and then I won’t have to think about it”.

So notice what different things make it harder for you.

A second step could be realising that the thing you’re trying to fix, the thing you’re trying to help feel better, (like feeling emotional, feeling criticised, something having happened to you, feeling tired, feeling bored, all manner of different reasons that you might be led to fail that diet or fail that exercise regime)- recognise that that’s not helped by what you’re doing.

So you can see you’re starting to train your brain to think of what’s important, but also starting to understand that you’re responding to some kind of stress when you have a craving.

It doesn’t matter what kind of craving it is. They all behave in the brain in the same way. How you talk yourself into doing something or out of doing something is pretty much the same whether you’re drinking alcohol every night, deciding not to go for that walk or run, or collecting fluffy guinea pigs!

So study this. Study what you say to yourself before you give in.

Progress and success are about making tiny little shifts in your brain and practising the change. Pausing and turning inward for a moment, reflecting on how you feel, what your thoughts are, what your body’s doing, and what resources you have, is the skill you need to build this new muscle.

This is actually what meditation is. And it’s the failure of being able to meditate that makes you good at meditating. It’s all about that moment when you just reflect internally, even if it’s just for a millisecond. And building up the practice of that.


An exercise to bust procrastination

So let’s do it now. If you take a moment just to turn inward, can you name one feeling, one body sensation, and one thought?

And then finally, can you name a resource or a strength that you have right now? No matter how small.

  1. Feeling: If I do this live in the moment, I have a feeling of, I have a feeling of tenderness.
  2. Sensation: The sensation that draws me is a slight fluttering in my solar plexus and belly.
  3. Thought: The thoughts I’m having are that I’m touched by this information, because I think it’s so important.
  4. Resource: And the resource I have is I’m so excited that I get to share this with you.

You may want to pause the podcast so that you can reflect on yourself. But I’d recommend doing this at any point in the day. It doesn’t take very long, as you can see.

So having established that it’s a stress response to give in to your impulse, a further step that you can take in this process of trying to get control of your impulses is training your body to shift when you’re in a stress state.

The practice we just did may have started to do that already. But if you want more than that, I’ve done a lot of podcasts on this.

An example for me is about three months ago, I started doing breathing exercises every night. It’s a really simple exercise. I spend 5 minutes breathing in, to the count of 3, holding it for 3, breathing out for 3, and then holding that for 3.

And then I spend 10 minutes doing it to a count of 4.

Sometimes I’m distracted and want to look something up while I do this. Sometimes I do that. But even still, I’ve noticed that I have more self-control. I have more awareness of when I want to do those things, and gradually over time, I’m changing my mind.


How I stop procrastination immediately

I produced a reel that was quite popular on social media, so I will include it here. Here’s how willpower shows up for me.

Instead of forcing my will to make me do something that I don’t particularly want to do. This is what willpower is for me. In 2021, I began running. I started slowly with Couch to 5K and now I run 2 or 3 times a week. And I’ve kept this up pretty consistently over time. Is it willpower that’s kept me running?

I’d say it’s taken these three skills:

1. The first one is being consistently mindful of why it is that I want to run. I want to have more energy, the energy I used to have when I was younger, and running delivers that.

2. Number two is supporting myself through it. I’m not constantly thinking things like,

“How am I going to get through this run?” Or, “This sucks” Or, “I hate this”.

Or, to be honest, I do think those thoughts. But then I quickly change them to thinking things like this.

“I can do this. I’ve done this before. I’m strong. Look at how powerful my body is. This is only a short amount of time in my life. I can do it.”

3. And number three is staying in the present moment. Sometimes I count how many steps I’m taking per breath. I’m always coming back to this step, this part of the run, and this moment. And sometimes I feel the strength of my body. And this one gives me a dopamine hit.

It’s these tiny steps that make up real effective willpower, I think.

In every moment that you choose to do something slightly different, you’re already being that better version of yourself that you want to be, and that you weren’t before.

So what tiny step forward do you want to take?



  • Today, I talked about procrastination and self-control. I talked about how working out how your impulses go out of control is essential to understanding how to stop that process.
  • I talked about the three parts of your brain that get involved with self-control.
  • And I suggested ways to start practising using the part of your brain that helps you to have impulse control.
  • This included working out why you want to have control over your impulses. What would make it worth it for you?
  • And practising stress regulation.
  • And I gave you an example of loss of impulse control for me and how I use willpower.


Final Thoughts

The thing about these practices is that if you follow them through, you’ll improve your focus, your awareness, your attention, your self-regulation and stress management, as well as your impulse control.

A study showed that after 3 hours of doing these things, there was an improvement. After 11 hours, the brain changed dramatically.

So what first steps do you want to take? Following my example, how can you take the tiniest step forward now? What excites you or interests you in what I’ve been talking about? That’s your first step.

I would love you to share with us your thoughts on this in my Facebook comfort eating recovery group. And as ever, if you want further help, if you need to go deeper at this point and want to help with your self-control, conversations about my six-month comfort eating program in February have begun.

Thank you so much for listening today. I’ll be back again to do the podcast in February. If you’re going to miss the podcast, get your comfort eating recovery starter kit and you’ll get my weekly digest.

Take good care and I’ll see you soon. This has been the Underground Confidence with Shelley Treacher.



This podcast, (& the research articles mentioned), was inspired by: Kelly McGonigal – The Willpower Instinct


Help with Impulse Control & Reducing Procrastination

For help with releasing unwanted habits or addictions, and learning how to manage emotions contact Shelley Treacher today.