How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Getting Things Done

Learning to stop feeling guilty is so much more easy to say than actually doing it.

How many times have you felt really frustrated or annoyed for procrastinating when you should be focusing on your most important stuff?

We all do this. In fact, I did it yesterday. I procrastinated with writing. Even though I love writing, I still have times where I just don’t do it. It happens rarely now but I still get annoyed and feel guilty when I miss a day or two.

Then I was thinking to myself; is it really worth feeling this stress, guilt and frustration? Of course what I do is extremely important to me but still, it’s no help feeling guilty about not getting things done. This isn’t going to change anything or help bring about a better situation.

Then I noticed I do it with my habit building list. I currently use an app to keep track of my progress when it comes to habit building.

“Here’s the thing: there’s no problem with the failure to meet our expectations. The real problem is the expectations. And the stress that it causes when we don’t meet the expectations.” – Leo Babauta

Here is something that has helped me an awful lot

Just doing a slice of the action – Even doing just a little bit of what I set out to do works wonders in helping me deal with stress. In fact, it actually melts the stress away.

Say that I’ve planned to spend 4 hours on research and writing, but don’t follow through with it because life gets in the way sometimes. Or we use that as an excuse.

But anyway, just doing a little bit of that does my mental health the world. I feel psychologically rewarded and I still feel the momentum building. In other words, I feel just as good doing a little bit as I would doing 4 hours.

You see, it’s when we do nothing of what we planned to do that causes us to get all worked up. So by forgetting how much we do and focus on doing just a little bit, we can help ourselves tackle guilt and stress.

Another thing that holds us back is that we carry this idea around in our heads that if we don’t get it done then our whole world will come crashing down. It’s okay, our world is not going to come crashing down. The more we come from a place of detachment, the less stress we will feel and the better work we’ll produce coming from an emotionally balanced state.

“Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important.” Natalie Goldberg.

Sure we can still aim for getting it all done, as long we don’t try to tackle two days worth of stuff in one then it’s all good. Just doing a slice of our intentions is a great way to dissolve the stress or stop it from creeping in.

Who knows, maybe after we only intend to just do a tiny fragment of it we end up doing all of it. Sometimes just having a small intention at the start can actually help us get over that barrier of procrastination and allow us to be more productive and thus create more.

The starting point can more often than not make all of the difference.

Remember, small steps repeated consistently overtime creates big momentum. This is something to hold in mind when we don’t get all of it done. Just a little bit will still create momentum going forward and is still a thousand times better than doing nothing

Leo Babauta author and creator of the site, has written a very helpful article on this topic. In fact, it inspired me to write this article.

Here is an excerpt from Leo. This is his prescription for overcoming guilt when we don’t get things done.

“Here’s the prescription, if you want one:

  1. Set an intention to love yourself by exercising, eating better, meditating, being kind to others, doing your work in the world. Set the intention out of love, then do the best you can.
  2. Whatever you do, notice your expectations, toss them into the ocean. Love what you actually do, love the moment and yourself no matter what. Let go of the useless guilt and stress and self-criticism.
  3. See what held you back from meeting your intention. Make an intentional change in your environment so that it won’t keep holding you back. Set another intention, out of love, but don’t cling to it. Repeat, over and over.

By letting go of these expectations, by tossing them into the ocean, we can let go of our difficulties and actually be at peace. Actually find contentment. Actually love ourselves. And this leads to a happiness with the world and ourselves that is incredible and that fills the heart up.”


Where I got the information from