How to Beat Procrastination for Good: My 5 Secrets to Success

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

how to beat procrastination

This isn’t going to be your typical, feel-good blog.

It doesn’t come front-loaded with easy tips for how to beat procrastination for good.

(Because procrastination isn’t that simple or straight-forward.)

It was actually inspired by a sad event:

Back when I ran Express Writers… I still remember these moments.

They defined how I remember the history of talented people that applied to our jobs.

This was one of them.

A ridiculously talented new agency writer quit my writing team, giving up due to mental depression – the reason given in her abrupt “I quit” email, sent at 3 a.m.

Honestly? I was shocked to see her walk out.

But here’s the thing.

It happens. Depression and mental lows can hit the very best of us. 

Even in the middle of amazing opportunities. I’d offered her a consistent, four-figure monthly relationship, and saw incredible talent in her. I’d invested my time to mentor her, given her a free seat to my course, and guided her in the creation of a couple amazing content pieces.

She was young, new, but unbelievably talented.

The coaching I’d given her for free was worth dividends to the right person. But it was all gone with that 3 a.m. email.

Today’s blog is a real-talk sit-down with me. Inspired by what happened, I wanted to publish and put out into the world for people like her, and you, what has worked above and beyond any other “try-this” methodology to cure my own depression.

And, like I said, this isn’t going to be a feel-good blog.

I’m going to warn you right now. You may have to sit down with yourself and have some hard talks about bad habits, late nights, and too much caffeine.

But bear with me.

These secrets I’m sharing for the first time – about how I’ve overcome my own negative, reactive mindsets that lead to depression, procrastination, and failure – will change your life.

Here’s how to beat procrastination. For good.

serious business owner

How to Beat Procrastination for Good: Get to the Root of the Problem

Some people might say, “Well Julia, you don’t know depression.” I say – I understand depression. I grew up in a cult and, once upon a time, believed my life was worth nothing at 19 years old. If anyone knows, I do.

So trust me when I say I know that procrastination, depression, bad habits, and negative mindsets are bedfellows.

They cycle together in a loop that can become never-ending.

Depression feeds on bad habits the same as flies feed on garbage. Here’s how the negative mindset loop operates and exponentially proliferates:

You stay up late working on that project due tomorrow. You don’t have time to cook dinner so you grab a burger from the nearest fast food joint. You fall asleep in front of the TV late after too many episodes of that new show everyone’s talking about.

The next day, you wake up bleary, grumpy, and stressed. You down caffeine to stay awake through another long workday. At 10 p.m., you collapse in front of the TV with more fast food.

The next day, you feel even worse. You’re behind on work despite the long days you put in. You’re depressed and unmotivated, so you procrastinate on important tasks, even though you know it’s a bad idea and you feel rotten about it. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

motivation by holly chisholm

Source: Holly Chisholm

Eventually, your procrastination causes you to miss deadlines, miss out on opportunities, and perform poorly at work or school. You fail. You feel worse than before, and your depression deepens. Before you know it, you’re trapped. You can’t move. You think, “What’s the point?” You’re in a deep, dark hole with no exit door.

Breaking out of this trap requires a Herculean effort. A feat of strength, will, and determination like you’ve never mustered before in your life.

You can’t wait for good ‘feelings’ to come. They won’t. You must take hold of your own life, and now. The sooner you see that, the better your life will begin to be.

Here are a few things I 1000% recommend. I’m not going to hold back, because you’re at a breaking point, so, buckle in. This will get you to the next level. 

5 Proven Ways to Help You Know How to Beat Procrastination for Good

Here are my 5 proven ways to beat procrastination – by getting to the root of the issue.

1. Understand the Root Cause of Procrastination and Negative Mindsets (Backed by Science)

The psychology of procrastination has to do with bad habits – choosing to do something because it has an immediate reward, even though it will hurt you in the long run. And, bad habits repeated over months, even years, can culminate in some pretty nasty health effects.

In fact, they cause worse damage than you think. Let’s look at how some of the most common poor habits hurt your brain, zap your creativity, and prime you for procrastination, negative thinking, and depression.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

It seems obvious, but it still needs to be said: Prioritizing good sleep every night will help your brain stay healthy and function at its best. 🧠✅

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can increase amyloid-beta plaque levels in the brain by as much as 5% after just one night without enough sleep (these plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s and can block synapse activity and cause damage as they build up).

alzheimer's brain tissue

And that’s not the least of it.

Sleep helps with our learning and memory (for example, while you sleep, your brain literally “replays” some of the new information you acquired during the day to strengthen and consolidate it).

Good sleep also helps our mood, our mental clarity, our immune system, and our well-being. It’s no wonder losing sleep can crash your health and send you spiraling into negative mindsets and other bad habits.

free training


Here’s a bad habit that often runs in tandem with poor sleep – over-caffeinating. ☕☕💥

You didn’t get enough sleep – again – so you have to hit the coffee pot three, four, even five times (sometimes more!) just to make it through the day sans zombie mode.

Sound familiar?

Coffee isn’t the only suspect here, either. Caffeinated sodas, teas, energy drinks, and even chocolate are culprits when you overdo them.

Some of the negative effects of over-caffeinating:

  • Over-stimulation of the brain
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twitches
  • High blood pressure

Bad Nutrition & Eating Too Many Unhealthy, Processed Foods

Just like lack of sleep and too much caffeine, bad eating habits hurt your brain and body. Sure, the calories from that donut or those potato chips will give you enough energy to get through your day, but that’s about it.

A 2015 study published in BMC Medicine actually found a relationship between the quality of your diet and depression/mental health. Researchers found that the hippocampus (a part of the brain linked with mental health, learning, and memory) was smaller in people who ate a typical “unhealthy” Western diet – lots of fats, salt, processed foods, etc.

Not Moving Your Body or Getting Outside

It’s well-known that physical exercise has a plethora of health benefits. Harvard Health even calls it an “all-natural treatment to fight depression” that can be just as effective as medication!

exercise naturally fights depression

So, if you find yourself sitting all day long (at your desk for eight hours, on your couch all night watching Netflix), you’re playing with fire. Here are two reasons why:

  • Not moving your body enough is associated with depression, dementia, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Many forms of exercise get you outside and soaking up some very necessary sunlight and vitamin D – a lack of both is associated with depression and cognitive function (like in seasonal affective disorder).

Bottom line? The less you move, the more you’ll find yourself less motivated, more lethargic, more depressed, and prone to procrastination.


Putting Your Mental Health, Activity, & Creativity Last

When’s the last time you thought about your mental and cognitive health in terms of how much exercise your brain is getting?

I’m not just talking about mental work, like the mundane kind you do every day at your job, or pushing your mind to its limits, like when you work late even though you’re dead-tired.

I’m talking about flexing your creativity, problem-solving, and imagination. 🌈

How often do you do it?

If you’re blanking, that’s a problem.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, staying mentally active is one key to good brain health, including a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s all about doing “something enjoyable which stimulates your mind.”

Creativity is a complex process that requires the whole brain to work. If you NEVER flex these brain muscles, you won’t build your creativity stronger. And if your creativity stays weak, you’ll get discouraged whenever you need to use it and it fails to come through. You’ll come to dread creative activities and opportunities, which leads to procrastination.

how creativity works

Source: Greater Good Magazine

Hands down, the best time to build your creativity is when the pressure is off and you can have fun doing it.

That means putting your creativity last (or neglecting any stress-free mental activity) is a great way to dive straight toward a negative mindset loop. 😣

Now that you understand how your habits can affect your mind, let’s get deeper into how to build up good ones, nourish your mind, and fight procrastination and depression.

2. Shape Healthier Habits

I’m a grandma at 29 years old, eat little to NO sugar or dairy and NO processed food, and it’s how I’ve solved the creativity problem.

SLEEP. NUTRITION. Good HABITS. It’s all you need.

I’m walking proof.

I’m publishing my fourth book a year after my third book came out. I’m running two brands with two separate teams and am working on several other brands on the side, a nonprofit and a farm. I’m often labeled “crazy,” but if you ask me, I’m inspired. I’m motivated daily to work on my dreams.

Why? It all comes down to healthy habits.

I didn’t automatically start doing all of these healthy things, though. I built and shaped them through daily practice.

You need to proactively work on your life from the inside out if you want to stop falling into negative habits that tear down your physical and mental health.

Arthur Ashe quote

Be up at sunrise with water or coffee, do some exercise. Have a 30-minute pattern/regime of some sort that puts you in a positive, not negative/reactive mindset, and pushes you ahead further than if you started your day without one.

Without fail, I visit a local lake every single morning, read the Word, and meditate and pray. Without that start, my day is trash. I’ve been doing that for two years now and will keep doing it till I’m 90+ years old.

3. Practice Mindfulness

When I talk about mindfulness, I don’t mean you need to sit in a zen garden, legs crossed, eyes closed, and meditate for hours.

I DO mean you should practice being present in your mind and body daily. This means, wherever you are, you’re reduced to observer status. Sit, listen, breathe, relax. Let your mind wander and notice it without judgment. Just be.

Studies have shown mindfulness practice reduces stress, decreases anxiety, boosts your memory, improves your focus, calms you down, improves your ability to adapt, and sharpens your senses. This makes it a fantastic tool to use when you feel yourself starting to head down the procrastination/depression/failure loop.

For the best mindful session, especially if you want to take a quick 10-15 minutes to decompress during work, make sure your environment is ideal. A comfortable chair, noise-canceling headphones, and a clutter-free office will do wonders.

free starter kit

4. Avoid Burnout, Set Boundaries

To build better habits that cultivate motivation, energy, and inspiration, you have to set boundaries in your life.

Start here: CLOSE your computer at 5 p.m. Seriously. ❌

Picture this: It’s late in the day… You’ve been working until you’re burned out. You hate everything, are ready to throw away your computer, etc…?

Am I right? I know I am, because this was me. Trust me.

I went through massive burnout for years – until I learned how to work smarter, not harder. Part of that involves drawing some lines in the sand. Stopping at 5 p.m. will be the best thing for your mental AND physical health because you’ll give yourself a touchpoint for shifting from work mode to relax mode. You’ll be telling yourself, “Okay, it’s time to switch off” as you physically close your computer. Sometimes that physical mindset shift is exactly what you need.

When 5 p.m. rolls around and you get to turn off your computer, you’ll literally feel the stress melt from your body. You give yourself permission to rest. And, because you know 5 p.m. is your cut-off time, you’ll be much more efficient during your day to make up for it.

After that, take it one step further: Be in bed by 10 p.m. (When I gave this advice to one of my other young writing mentees, her life changed. She’s now inspired and ahead of tasks.)

5. Power Through, Even When Things Get Hard

Finally, NEVER throw away a good thing. That incredible job offer/client you’re feeling unable to commit to could be the lifeline you desperately need, but you can’t see it because your bad habits are taking away any good feelings. 

I wouldn’t be here today if I gave up on EW in the first year, the second year, third, fourth, fifth… I made it to year 10 simply because I didn’t give up.

Harriet Beecher Stowe quote

Source: Content Hacker

The more you shape your life well from the inside out (you can’t wait for a feeling, you’ve got to change your habits yourself), the easier it gets!

The Secret to Beat Procrastination for Good? Good Habits.

If you find yourself procrastinating often, for no good reason…

The procrastinating itself might not be the problem. 🤯

Instead, you may have deeper issues brewing under the surface – ones you’re ignoring.

Bad habits? Depression spirals? A body and brain crying out for some nourishment?

Yep, sounds about right.

As I’ve found, building good habits is VITAL to getting out of the negative mindset loop that pulls you straight from bad habits to procrastination to depression, to failure, to giving up entirely…

To back again for another round of spiraling.

Don’t despair, though. You CAN stop the cycle.

Feeding your mind and body what they need to not just survive, but THRIVE –

It matters. And so do you. ♥

Ready to bust through burnout and get back to building your business sustainably? Check out my Content Transformation System, a 12-month mentorship that gives you a three-fold action plan: skills, systems, and strategies.

Let’s shore up the foundations of your brand together and get you rolling with smart marketing, a great website, your first hire, strategies for delegating, and more.

Apply today to get started. 🚀

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