If you look up "procrastination" in the dictionary you are likely to find a simplified definition of the word, such as "putting off that which should be done today." However, procrastination is anything but simple. Learning to overcome procrastination can be a very difficult thing to do, especially since it is habitual behavior developed over many years.

Roughly 60 million Americans (20% of the population) identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Many attempt to overcome it, most fail due to a lack of understanding the problem. The most common misunderstandings about procrastination are that it is caused by poor time management skills and/or laziness.

Procrastination is not an issue of time management. Most procrastinators are very aware of their time and how it is being spent. Trying to manage time with To Do lists and daily planners does not address the reasons why people procrastinate.

Laziness is not the problem either.

The primary cause of procrastination is the perception that a task will be unpleasant for whatever reason. A procrastinator is somebody who habitually avoids unpleasant tasks and has mastered the art of convincing themselves they do not, should not, or cannot begin an unpleasant task quite yet.

To overcome procrastination one must confront and question their impulsive tendency to justify why they cannot do something.

Learning to control your impulses and stop procrastinating can be a long, uphill battle. But here are seven powerful tips (Stop Procrastinating) you can use to stop procrastinating:

1) Make the decision to stop procrastinating. Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is one thing, but actually doing something about it is another. Do not allow yourself to think that you "should" stop procrastinating; you never will with this mindset. Rather, say to yourself that you "will" stop procrastinating.

2) Identify unpleasant tasks immediately. When something comes up that you know you're going to have to deal with, get started on it right away. By not addressing it and allowing time to pass, your perception of the task will get worse. Get in the habit of saying to yourself "I know this is something I don't want to do, so I'm going get started on it right away."

3) Be aware of your impulsive thoughts. The decision to procrastinate can happen in the blink of an eye. If you see that the dishes need to be done, it's extremely easy to say to yourself "I'll just do them later." But if you examine this decision you may find that it doesn't make a lot of sense. You can probably clean up the kitchen in less than 5 minutes. Can you not honestly spare 5 minutes?

4) Use a power word or power phrase. A power word is a tool you can use to motivate yourself into doing something right away. For example, when faced with the decision to clean the kitchen or watch TV, say to yourself "I am a Completer!" A simple phrase like this can be a great way to overcome the impulsive decision to avoid a task. Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is another great one.

5) Forget about perfectionism. One of the common excuses a procrastinator will use to talk themselves out of doing something is that they cannot begin until they know they can do a perfect job. Some people think perfectionism is a good thing -- but it's deadly to a procrastinator. The conditions for getting started will never be ideal, so throw perfectionism out the window and just get started.

6) Imagine how you'll feel when you're done. This is one of the most powerful ways you can motivate yourself to begin a task, especially for larger, more complicated tasks. Imagine how you will feel when you're finished and use this feeling to get yourself started.

7) Just start. Procrastination is the art of convincing yourself not to start. Sometimes the best cure for a procrastinator is some "tough love." Just suck it up and take the first step.

Overcoming procrastination is not easy. In the same way someone must make the decision to stick to a diet or stop smoking, beating the habit of procrastination takes discipline, repetition, and time. Do not expect miracles right away. Even after making the firm decision that you are going to break your habit of procrastination, you will hit snags along the way.

It's extremely easy to talk yourself out of doing something unpleasant. Stay strong, stay positive, and you will see results.

Author's Bio: 

As a business coach and mentor, Charlie Ritchie has successfully helped hundreds of clients battle through personal barriers such as confidence, time management and procrastination.

Along with the collaboration of other professionals, Charlie Ritchie set out to create an online course on how to stop procrastinating. For more information check out Procrastination Pro: The 21-Day System to Stop Procrastinating.