How Procrastination Affects Me
Putting off work and chores affects my productivity as a human being and as a professional. For example, there are days when I cannot wake up when my alarm rings. In fact, just today, I woke up two hours after my alarm went off. Even though I heard the alarm, I could not get out of bed as I had zero motivation to do anything. All I wanted to do was sleep and sleep and sleep.
If my stomach hadn’t started growling due to hunger, I would have continued to sleep. Later in the day, I struggled to begin work. I put off writing this post until the very last minute. Even while writing it, I wanted to stop and finish it tomorrow. And I could have done that. It would even be justified as today was a terrible mental health day.
Indeed, on bad mental health days, I procrastinate more due to increased depression and anxiety. But even when it hits me hard, I try to do at least one productive thing. I do not do this not because I am a masochist. I do this because doing nothing worsens my depression and anxiety. And when that happens, I am unable to get anything done. It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m willing to bet that you have a similar experience. Also, some work tasks have to be taken care of immediately. Delaying them can result in severe consequences like suffering immense financial loss, not being promoted, or even losing your job.
Therefore, it is crucial to figure out ways to fight this issue.
You Try To Be Perfect
Its commonly said that perfectionism is fear in disguise. People who like things done correctly may struggle with accepting errors and mistakes in their lives. Theyll berate themselves for not achieving a desired outcome. They often hold others to the same unrealistic standards.
Perfectionists prefer working on projects alone rather than delegating tasks to others. They fear collaborators may not deliver whats needed.
If youre showing signs of perfectionism when youve never experienced this trait before, procrastination may be a factor.
Ways To Overcome Chronic Procrastination
Chronic procrastination is incredibly emotionally and mentally exhausting. It can deprive a person from enjoying special moments and being in the present. Nevertheless, this chronic avoidance is alterable.1 With thoughtful planning, taking action, reaching out to available supports, and getting professional help, you can effectively cope and conquer chronic procrastination.
Here are five ways to overcome chronic procrastination:< h2data-nav=Monitor Behaviors> 1. Monitor Your Behaviors & Gather Information
Knowledge is power. Start becoming more aware of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, then monitor and document them.
What to Consider:6,8
- Behaviors: Are you consistently avoiding certain tasks or responsibilities? Are you unable to stick to those tasks or projects?
- Consequences of these behaviors: Which aspects of your life are being negatively impacted by these behaviors?
- Identify the triggers: What situations, irrational thoughts, self-doubt, or fears are causing or triggering your procrastination?
- Frequency: How often is this happening?
If you have a co-occurring mental health concern that is playing a role in your procrastination, research your condition online or talk to someone knowledgeable in the field. Get family or close friends on board by asking for honest feedback: Do they see you struggling? Are they directly being impacted by your actions and behaviors?
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What Are The Four Types Of Procrastination
There are four types of procrastination and they can be related to each personality type. The first one is the person that does the work, but usually says they work better under pressure.
This makes them take action only when there is very little time left. These people think that the hardest part is to get started. And to cope with this tait, it might be important to just set a date to start, and how you are going to begin it.
There is also the type of people that procrastinate because they are too lazy at the moment. If you behave like that, you tend to work extra hard when doing a task. But it might be that you are blaming laziness for how tired you are.
For you, it is important to take breaks, even though you think there isnt any time for that. But what you need to keep in mind is that recharging can make it easier for you to go back to work. Some people procrastinate because they say they are too busy to do the things they need to.
Those people can have a full schedule and are often overwhelmed. This may indicate you are avoiding doing things, and it might be easier to say you are busy than admitting you dont want to do it. To deal with it, you might want to ask yourself what are you trying to avoid and why?
The fourth type of procrastination is the one in which the person is constantly looking for novelty. Those people usually start a new project but give up on it a week later.
Procrastination Among University Students: Differentiating Severe Cases In Need Of Support From Less Severe Cases
- 1Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
- 2Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
- 3Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom
- 4Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
- 5Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany
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Actionable Tips For Managing Procrastination In Depression
Procrastination as an outcome of depression may improve as other symptoms of depression are treated.
A mental health professional can help you identify factors contributing to procrastinating behaviors. They can also address your symptoms and help you develop coping skills to restructure unhelpful thinking patterns.
In depression, procrastination is just one manifestation of the disorder, says Debiec. If you have depression and are not getting treatment for it, its going to be very difficult to do basic everyday things.
Besides starting treatment for depression, these tips can help you manage procrastinating tendencies:
Procrastination Is A Very Common Aspect Of Depression
1. When people are depressed they often lose interest in activities they normally enjoy. This can lead to procrastination about even fun activities. Even if the person thinks they might like to attend an event, they may hesitate about committing due to fear they won’t feel up to it when the time rolls around.
2. People who deal with stress by putting problems in their too hard basket are more vulnerable to getting depressed. There is a huge chicken and egg relationship here. If you ruminate about problems rather than tackling them head-on, it can contribute to worsening depression, but depression can also make people feel frozen.
3. When people are depressed, it can be hard for them to plan out a sequence of behavior. For instance, if you need to grocery shop and meal prep, , or sort out your debt you may feel intimidated about where to start. Planning out multi-step tasks can feel overwhelming when your mind is foggy due to depression. Your refusal to get started can seem like obstinance when it’s actually difficulty planning out tasks when in a depressed state.
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Procrastination: An Emotional Struggle
Procrastination is a common issue one that people often equate with simply being lazy or having poor time-management skills. But there is often more to the story.
William McCown, associate dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences and professor of psychology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, cites a case example of a man in his mid-30s with a degree in chemical engineering who was procrastinating about applying to graduate school. The client reported just not being able to get it together. Through therapy, however, the man discovered that he had an emotional block. His parents supported his choice to get another degree, but their own lack of formal schooling often led them to make detractive comments, such as the father stating that when his children thought they were as smart as him, he would just die. The client came to realize that comments such as these sometimes incited him to self-sabotage his career.
According to Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. His research indicates that as many as 20% of adults worldwide are true procrastinators, meaning that they procrastinate chronically in ways that negatively affect their daily lives and produce shame or guilt.
Managing emotions, not time
Imagination is really great with drumming up emotions, Cilley notes. The emotion starts to come into the session when .
Addressing irrational thoughts
How To Find A Therapist
Anyone interested in finding a therapist to address their issues with chronic procrastination could explore options on an online directory, through local social or community organizations, or by consulting a health care provider. People struggling with chronic procrastination who adhere to their treatment plan can have a positive outcome within a few months. However, individuals whose chronic procrastination is related to a more serious mental health disorder like ADHD, depression, or anxiety, may need a longer period in therapy.
Like any other forms of therapy, the cost of treatment focused on overcoming chronic procrastination may vary. These charges can range from $50 to $150 per session without health insurance coverage. With a health insurance plan covering behavioral health, the out-of-pocket costs per session might be noticeably lower.
Create Obstacles And Rewards
If you tend to pick up your phone when youre supposed to be working, turn off your phone and put it somewhere out of sight before you get started with the day.
Make sure to reward yourself for your efforts, too. After you get a good chunk of work done, take a break to watch a funny video, catch up with your friends, or swap selfies with your partner.
Thinking in terms of rewards rather than punishments can help you encourage yourself, too.
- Instead of: If I dont work out tonight, I cant watch the next episode of Lucifer.’
- Try: Ill go for a jog after work, and then Ill watch an episode of Lucifer before bed.
If youre a long-time procrastinator, breaking the habit may require a little extra support.
Connecting with a therapist may be a good next step when procrastination:
- affects your performance at school or work
- creates problems in your personal relationships
- leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, or makes existing symptoms worse
A therapist can help you identify and explore possible emotional triggers. They can also provide more insight into any underlying mental health concerns contributing to procrastination.
When To Seek Professional Help For Procrastination
The strategies outlined above can be useful for combating procrastination. If putting things off continues to interfere with your relationships, work, or well-being, though, its important to seek professional help. A licensed mental health provider can help you gain insight into behaviors that drive procrastination.
Therapy can help you reframe negative thoughts, find meaning in your activities, and embrace positivity. In therapy, you can learn time management skills, find ways to limit distractions, and develop productive habits.
Cognitive behavior therapy may be particularly helpful for procrastination. CBT explores the connections between thoughts and feelings. By changing the thoughts you have about an activity, you can change your attitude about it.
Consider how CBT can be applied to perfectionism and self-doubt. A therapist can help you become more aware of irrational beliefs that prevent you from completing activities. For example, they can help you explore why you think a homework assignment is only worth completing if you earn a perfect score.
If you or a loved one needs help managing mental health symptoms, McLean is here to help. Call us today at to learn more about treatment options.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Procrastination
Fear of failure People often procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing at the tasks that they need to complete. This fear of failure can promote procrastination in various ways, such as by causing people to avoid finishing a task, or by causing them to avoid getting started on a task in the first place.
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Procrastination As A Mental Health Symptom
The source of procrastination sometimes runs a little deeper than a difficulty regulating emotions.
If you live with anxiety, for example, you might spend a lot of time worrying about what specific tasks involve or feeling nervous about what could go wrong. These kinds of fears can absolutely lead to delay.
The link between anxiety conditions and perfectionism can also play a part in procrastination. When you dont believe you can do something perfectly, you might feel anxious about doing it at all and continually put it off instead.
Depression, which often wears away at energy and self-worth, can also involve procrastination. You might neglect certain responsibilities because you cant muster up the motivation to complete them, or because you doubt yourself and your skills.
Procrastination can also result from
Break The Task Down Into Small Manageable Chunks
Sometimes we procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed. If youve been procrastinating a specific project because it feels like too much, make a plan.
Start by breaking the activity into smaller, more digestible parts. This makes the overall effort more manageable. Your mind registers that the tasks are small enough to be handled.
You can also create steps that allow you to complete the tasks on time. This step-by-step approach enables you to kickstart the work and achieve more than you might expect.
For the next step, start working on the framework you created. As you do this, youll notice you are moving forward without procrastinating.
Your stress may also slowly be replaced with a feeling of satisfaction that comes with letting go of fear and moving forward.
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What Can You Do About Chronic Procrastination
If your procrastination problem is a symptom of a mental health disorder, taking action to get that disorder managed is the first step. Talking with your doctor or a trained mental health professional can help you better understand what might be going on and get started with a treatment plan.
But what if your procrastination isnt related to a mental illness? In this scenario, procrastination can often be managed with some lifestyle changes and behavioral adjustments. For example, many people find it helpful to do the hardest or least enjoyable task first on their daily list. This immediately gives you a big win and ensures you dont keep pushing it off until the last minute.
Staying organized through lists whether you prefer old-fashioned pen and paper or a digital planner that syncs across all your devices can also help. Consider strategies such as color-coding your to-do list by tasks that need to be done right away, those that can wait a day or two and those that need to be done by the end of the week. This can be especially helpful for those who process things better visually.
Relying on a support system for encouragement and accountability is also important. It can help to find a friend whos also struggling with procrastination and willing to do regular check-ins. You can tell each other what youre planning on doing and by when and then follow up to make sure it actually got done.
Is It Possible To Outgrow Procrastination
Studies show young people are more likely to procrastinate than older age groups. In fact, many people seem to outgrow procrastination as they mature.
A 2016 study that analyzed procrastination in several different age groups found that procrastination was highest in 14-to-29-year-olds, the youngest age group studied.
The same study reports that people procrastinate less as they age. Researchers believe the decline is linked to personality development, changes in time perception, and increased coping skills.
In particular, people tend to develop more conscientiousness with age. Individuals with this personality trait tend to be careful and thorough.
Conscientiousness is linked to several positive aspects of life, from fulfillment with work to healthy relationships. The more conscientious a person is, the less likely they are to procrastinate.
Another reason older people may procrastinate less? They have more awareness that time is limited. Young people tend to have abstract thoughts about time.
As people become more aware of their own mortality, they realize they cannot indefinitely delay what needs to be done.
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How Do People With Depression Cope With Procrastination
There are some ways people with depression can cope with procrastinating. When a person with depression is procrastinating, it might be hard for them to identify they are doing it. But it might be important for people around them to try and show how they are procrastinating.
Although this may seem hard, try to show them how they are avoiding doing things. This needs to be a compassionate and caring conversation. In it, you can ask what are the barriers they are facing, and in what way you can help.
Setting more realistic and short-term plans can be extremely important for a person with depression that is procrastinating. It can help them plan better, set their priorities, and purpose. Along with that, it will allow you to focus on doing things step by step.
When you manage to do something, give yourself recognition for it. Value your actions and achievements. Having that notion of how positive doing things was, will make you more motivated to do more.
If you are depressed and find it hard to do things, it might be important to look for professional help. Sometimes medication may be needed, it can reduce the intensity of your depressive symptoms, which can allow you to move a little easier.
Along with that, it might be important to look for therapy. Having therapy sessions can help you to discover new strategies to manage your depression, and it might also help you change your mindset to a more positive view.