How to Stop Procrastinating with Tips from the 1950s





Struggling with procrastination? Try these tips from the 1950s on how to stop procrastinating. They are just as relevant today as they were in the ’50s.

The 1950s seems so long ago and like it was so much different back then. In a lot of ways, it was but many of the struggles homemakers faced in the 1950s are the same as the ones we face now.

I love reading vintage magazines and when looking through a Better Homes & Gardens issue from 1951 I found an article on procrastinating. 

The article was titled “When You Can’t Seem to Get Things Done.” Doesn’t this sound pretty familiar? One of the most common struggles I hear from homemakers is about staying productive and not procrastinating.

It seems this was a common problem for 1950s housewives as well. This shouldn’t be a surprise, they were human as well. And that idyllic version of the 1950s housewife we see now is not totally factual. 

In the article, a housewife is quoted as saying, “if I put half as much effort into sailing into my spring house cleaning as I do in finding excuses for not starting it, I’d have the cleanest house in town.”

Our excuses may be different now but people have a long history of procrastinating. We can learn a lot still from past generations and what they did to overcome their struggles.

These are some of the things I took away from the 1950s article on procrastination. Hopefully, it will also help you see that all homemakers struggle from time to time, even that seemingly perfect 1950s housewife.

Something the article noted that is still important is to make sure you have nothing medical going on that is causing you to procrastinate. They used an example of someone with hypothyroidism. Vitamin deficiencies, chronic illnesses, and mental illness can all impact our motivation so if this is new be sure to tell your doctor.

How to Stop Procrastinating


Outline Your Plan

Start by writing down what you want to change and steps you will take to meet that goal. This isn’t a to-do list, it’s a plan to stop procrastinating in general.

An example from the article is “set the alarm half an hour earlier each morning, so I can get a head start on the day’s work.” 

They also suggested writing down things you commonly do to procrastinate and how you will stop. A modern example would be strolling social media. A way to stop would be to put your phone in another room or even turn it off.

Confide Your Plan for Self-Improvement to a Friend

Telling a friend you are doing something means you can’t just make excuses to yourself but you’ll have to make excuses for your lack of follow through to someone else. 

We don’t tend to like to feel like we disappointed someone else so that can be motivation to stick to your plan.

The article talks about a person telling a friend they had lunch with each week that they had this plan. The friend suggested a small bet. The person did lose the bet but it hurt their pride a bit and made them try harder next time.



Don’t Try to Improve Everything at Once

It took time for you to become so good at procrastinating it will take time to learn to stop. You have likely created several bad habits that contribute to your procrastinating and trying to fix them all at once is asking for failure.

Try to work on one habit at a time and once you feel good about the one you have been working on, move on to the next. It may seem like improvement is coming slowly but before you know it you will be able to look back and see a lot of progress.

Remember Breaking Bad Habits is not Altogether Painless

If it was painless and easy to break these bad habits you wouldn’t be reading this you would have already done it. You will mess up from time to time and that will suck.

The article states, “that’s why so few of us change much as we get older. Yet you can comfort yourself that every twinge means a victory has been won.”

Reward Yourself

The article uses the comparison of a trained seal not performing if it doesn’t get a fish at the end of the act. I’m not sure I love being compared to a seal but it is true.

Once you have met some of your goals give yourself a little reward. Maybe you did such a good job keeping up with housework that on the weekend you can treat yourself. Maybe by going to a movie or something else you may have felt guilty about before because you’d have unfinished tasks waiting for you.

It’s amazing to me how relevant these tips still are. We like to think the time we live in is totally unique but a lot of the problems we have now are the same we have been having for generations. 

More Time Management Tips

Looking for more help managing your time better? I’ve got a few other posts for you to check out.


Time Management Tips for Homemakers
Making the Most of Your Time
6 Ways to a Better Morning Without Getting Up Earlier


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