Procrastination is a problem in many areas of life, not just writing essays. Procrastination can be a result of many causes. I've been told one cause is perfectionism. That seems a bit backwards to me because when I procrastinate I end up doing it in a rush at the end and I do a lousy job. But there could be some truth to this theory, in that when I'm afraid I will do a poor job, I can't get started. It's only when I'm about to fail completely that I can bring myself to do whatever is necessary to get the job done to a minimum standard.
Sometimes I procrastinate just because I'm not sure how to do the job. With these cases I have a few strategies that I am going to share. First, I do something to get started. Perhaps I take some notes. Perhaps I do a little work on the outline. Perhaps I do some research. Sometimes this gets me going enough that I can just putter along, moving in the right direction. I often set a little goal for myself with a reward. If I can write the first paragraph, I can take a break and have a cup of coffee. If I can get three points down in an outline, I can walk around the house for a minute.
With these strategies, the key to success is to remember to come back to the job quickly. It's easy to achieve one goal and then put the whole project on the back burner until the deadline arrives and I've only got the first paragraph written.
Another way to face procrastination is to dive into the hardest part. I'm a terrible home handyman, so I will put off doing home repairs until my partner is getting stressed. If I admit that I feel afraid to use power tools, then we can divide up the job and I'll plan and measure and tell her what size to cut the wood to. When I'm writing, often the hardest part is creating an outline, so I do that first and then I can write by simply following the outline. Unlike some people, I actually like writing, I only get stressed when I don't know where I'm going with the writing. When I have an outline, then I can simply fill in the paragraphs as I go along.
Sometimes the key to overcoming procrastination is to just get started. The last step in my article is to write something at the top of the page. If we just do something, anything, we open the door for the possibility of doing a little more. So now you know...just get started. I meant to write more but I never got around to it.