Reducing Procrastination By Addressing The Role of Anxiety


Most of us procrastinate about doing some things, some of the time. I may put off folding clothes and you may find yourself avoiding the mail, the boxes in the garage or the report due next week.  For 20% of men and women in the US, procrastination becomes a pervasive life style pattern that impairs quality of life by limiting success, compromising relationships and lowering self-esteem.

Procrastination and Anxiety

While there are many different reasons offered for procrastination, one dynamic that underscores many of them and much of the delaying or postponement of responsibilities is the difficulty regulating anxiety. In a sense, procrastination becomes a default position which offers a temporary fix but ultimately adds more anxiety.

Consider the Diverse Situations and Personal Issues in Which Anxiety Fuels Procrastination:

Perfectionism Often Heightens the Anxiety Associated with Procrastination

The Nature of a Task Can Increase Procrastination

How Does Procrastination become a quick Fix to Anxiety?

The Illusion

Central to procrastination is the short term lowering of anxiety with the rationalization that you are not really risking failure, job loss, relationship tension or medical coverage by refusing to do what is needed– you are just going to do it later.

Time Distortion

Can you really do the shopping and re-tile the floor on Christmas Eve?

In reality, laundry and dishes only become time consuming when they are avoided, pile up and become mountains that take too much time.


Really?When would you ever wake up with the urge to clean the garage?

The victory of the “ all nighter” pales in the face of a full college course load and becomes a serious problem of time management, social approval and performance in the work world.


Dealing with Procrastination

Most who have struggled with procrastination and particularly chronic procrastinators will confirm the interpersonal difficulties, low self-esteem, missed opportunities as well as physical stress that procrastination causes. Likened to an addiction, procrastination takes more and more and gives less and less.

Central to many of the solutions posed by experts, clinicians, and even those who have been procrastinators is stepping over the avoidance in a way that minimizes anxiety.

Here are Some Suggestions:

Small Steps

Dr. Lisa Juliano considers that everyone has their own procrastination profile worth contemplating and understanding. She suggests that once you identify something that you avoid, risk it in small steps.  Work on only a section of the assignment. Exercise for only ten minutes. The small steps carry with them mastery and movement.

It’s Only Practice

Change the Chores

Reward Yourself

Reverse things and use your favorite procrastination as your reward. Pay your bills, do your assignment, make that phone call and then watch the show, surf the web or play your video game ( Mastery plus Pleasure).

Bring in the Troops

Procrastinating is like carrying a heavy bag of  “To Do’s” everywhere you go. Inviting someone to help you can really lighten the load. When a friend is coming to help you clean the garage, it usually get’s done. When a neighbor rings your bell each morning to walk, it is hard to say, “No.” Most people find that everyone benefits.

Think Through the Task and the Time

Procrastination expert, Dr. Joseph Ferrari suggests that:

Going From A-B instead of A-Z

Proclaimed procrastinator and creative blogger of “WaitButWhy” suggests that stopping procrastination involves changing your storyline. He shares that each week he tries to do  one hard task without procrastinating. By committing to this plan, he feels he is starting a trend that will eventually change his storyline and his procrastination!!

 For the “ Inside Story on Procrastination” Listen to Dr. Lisa Juliano on Psych UP on Sunday May 11, 2014 after 9AM EST


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