Is Fear and Anxiety at the Root of Your Procrastination?

Procrastination can manifest itself in many forms and for many reasons.  It’s primarily the avoidance of a task or project that needs to be done usually within a certain timeframe.  Few of us have escaped the clutches of procrastination at one time or another in our life because it’s so easy to succumb to its seductive ways. 

Procrastination has many disguises:  television, internet, email, books, household chores, telephone, sleep and even the excuse of helping a friend.  Procrastinators seldom do nothing, but what they do is hardly useful.

For many the underlying root problem of your procrastination is fear and anxiety. You feel anxious about a task so you choose to ignore it.  This is a serious problem for students who have many deadlines to meet but it’s also a growing problem for those in the home and workplace. 

Fear and anxiety over not completing a task or project leads to procrastination and this in turn causes more fear of failure.  Failure fear is common but some fear success.  They feel if they complete the task successfully it will set the bar too high for future projects.  

Students are overwhelmed with an assignment and fear getting a failing grade.  They substitute worry for studying but feel if they fail because of procrastination they’ll be perceived as lacking in effort and this is more acceptable than lacking in ability.  They fear looking stupid. 

An interesting side note:  College students who procrastinate are usually more prone to drinking, smoking, insomnia and sickness such as colds and flu. Psychologists say the drinking and smoking are to ease the pain of fear and anxiety caused by procrastination, which leads to health problems.

We delay finishing a task because we fear criticism, disapproval and negative feedback.  We had rather procrastinate than suffer the fear of shame and embarrassment of unreal expectations. 

This expands into fear and anxiety of possible rejection, being criticized and making mistakes.  Some even fear losing freedom and put off committing to a project.  Fears are sometimes unconscious and people deny they suffer from them.

There are many ways to combat fear, anxiety and its offspring procrastination.  Realize you have a choice to succeed or not to succeed.  Set realistic goals in small increments and cultivate a sense of self worth. Don’t focus on weaknesses.  Most fears are unfounded and irrational.  Realize you’re working against yourself, analyze them and move on.  Ask yourself the real reason you’re afraid.  Be brutally honest.  For some, exercise and deep breathing help.

There is no perfect time to begin.  Mark Twain said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow.”  The important thing is to start.  Learn as much as you can about your task, take one step at a time, reward yourself and soon fear and anxiety will disappear. 

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