A Guide To Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination and Anxiety

Anxiety and procrastination are often linked to one another:

Anxiety is what sometimes unknowingly causes you to procrastinate, and the act of procrastinating is what leads you to experience even more anxiety.

It’s a pattern that can be difficult to get out of.

Unhealthy eating habits, irregular sleep, and inconsistent exercise routines are common things that suffer due to the inability to get things done.

Are you experiencing this? Here are the types of behaviors that prove you are:

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Why Do I Keep On Procrastinating?

Before diving into how to stop putting things off, it’s important to understand first why you do it in the first place.

What thoughts or feelings lead you to procrastinate? Is there a fear, situation, or person you are trying not to confront?

“Avoidance is a hallmark of anxiety,” as stated by Robert Yeganeh, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkley.

It can be one or a combination of several factors.

Being able to recognize and question your procrastination will help you uncover your anxieties, move past them, and help you get started on improving your life.

You’re A Perfectionist

Fear of failure can be a trigger for perfectionism. Defeat or discouragement is felt significantly when people think they have a high standard to maintain.

Perfectionism normally reveals itself during self-talk and reasoning.

Sentences such as “I should not submit this project until I am sure that it is the best one.” add pressure and can even prevent you from submitting at all.

Some examples of perfectionism are putting your doctor’s appointment on hold because you’re too busy with work.

Or staying updated on social media instead of reading the article on how to stop procrastinating.

Yes, I’m talking to you!

You essentially wait for everything to fall into place before you get started. In return, procrastination has become a part of your personality.

As someone who strives for perfection, you always worry about the worst possible scenario.

You think that doing certain tasks will produce an outcome of even more fear. Similarly, you are also worried that doing tasks could uncover something uncomfortable.

You Have No Interest In It

We have all been there.

A boring task often causes people to procrastinate because we do not feel the value we can obtain from accomplishing it. We’d really, truly rather do something else.

Of course, if an incentive is involved, the motivation will be present. The genuine interest in doing it is just simply nonexistent.

Preparing for projects at school or presentations at work is already a big load to take on as it is.

But overcoming the feeling of boredom is a different task altogether. So overwhelming that it should have its own checkbox in your to-do list.

You Play the Blame Game

The theory is that anxiety-related behavior tends to manifest itself onto external factors.

This happens a lot when we don’t acknowledge or confront our own anxieties. So when we put off doing a task, we blame our co-worker, boss, partner, or family member to make ourselves feel better.

Though in some instances these people may be obstacles, they are not the reason for your lack of self-responsibility. And for that matter, should never become the reason for it.

Don’t encourage the child in you to use that as an excuse to not achieve progress. The progress that you are fully capable of.

Instead, approach these obstacles as a reason for you to work even better.

You’ve Done It Successfully In The Past

Procrastination can even occur for people who have successfully done the same task in the past. Some instances include the following:

  • A lot of time has passed since you last did the action. (Example: running a marathon)
  • You have more to lose this time around. (Example: investing more money into your business)
  • The waiting time for the result will take longer. (Example: adding 10lbs of muscle on your body)

You have done this project before, so why is the anxious feeling still here? Try asking yourself what distinguishes doing it now from doing it before.

If you feel like you were in a better mental state before compared to now, remind yourself of the skills you have gained and developed from your previous work.

It might help you snap back to real life and get you out of your feelings of self-doubt.

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How Do I Stop Anxiety-Related Procrastination?

As with anything that needs to get done, stopping anxiety-related procrastination starts with yourself.

It is almost like dress rehearsals for the mind, as we do not always get it perfectly on the first try.

Being aware and willing to improve will help you boost your self-esteem as you navigate through anxiety. Here are a few methods that you can try to further help you:

Always Find Your Purpose

Never underestimate the importance of finding a purpose.

Although we all have our own set of goals we want to achieve, the road isn’t always as smooth. In life, there are many times wherein we will feel absolutely zero drive to do anything.

And what happens?

We procrastinate.

One way to get out of that mentality is by asking yourself why you are doing the task in the first place. Do you need or want to do this task?

Every time you face this challenge, try to think about the long-term consequences if you decide to procrastinate. With that, think about all the long-term benefits of it as well.

It will also help you a lot if you incentivize tasks you really have no interest in.

Let’s say you hate numbers but have to provide quantitative data for some reports at work.

If you procrastinate, a long-term consequence might be working on the weekend trying to cram it. A long-term benefit would be actually enjoying your weekend with family.

Therefore, your purpose for finishing the report right away is to enjoy family life over the weekend.

Get Help: Mental Health Matters

Anxiety is a normal part of growing up.

Oftentimes, the anxiety we carry is a reflection of our experiences as a child. This unintentionally projects itself onto tasks we feel burdened with.

However, this can take a toll on our personal growth relationships.

The last thing we want for ourselves is to feel hindered by our fear of anxiety.

Something to consider trying is therapy. When we have someone who can recognize any possible mood disorders, procrastination can be overcome even more.

This is why seeking help from a therapist has posed remarkable change for others.

Form A Plan

There are times wherein we are presented with an overwhelming list of things to do. And yes, it can be difficult to find your momentum when reaching goals.

However, breaking down your tasks will make them easier to start on.

Coming up with a step-by-step process helps most people get the job done with less procrastination.

When you muster up confidence from doing the small steps in your tasks, it becomes easier to address the others.

Do It & Do It With Confidence

Contrary to the previous suggestion of breaking a task down into steps, sometimes the most effective way to progress is by winging it!

Trust yourself, and the steps will come to you as you go about it.

You already know what’s holding you back anyway, so why not just take the leap?

We understand this is difficult to do, especially for perfectionists. But once in a while, try to stop overanalyzing and dive right into it!

“I have seen – 100% of the time – that once clients get started on a project, the rest more easily flows (Clark, n.d.).”

If a professor of psychology in the United States suggests that, then it may as well be worth the try!

Don’t Procrastinate Overcoming Procrastination

When a person understands his or her anxieties that lead to procrastination, it becomes easier to form a way to beat it. It’s just a matter of finding out which method works best for you.

A friendly reminder to stop holding yourself back from doing something that you want or need to get done. You’ll thank yourself for it later!

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