People who procrastinate are often labeled “lazy.”

In fact, they are usually the least lazy people among us.
This negative label only looks at procrastination in one light. In this light, its face value is shallow, superfluous, and an “easy fix.” Except that it’s not.

A more profound way to approach it is that anxiety causes procrastination, and procrastination causes anxiety. It’s a cruel cycle that presents a more complex problem than just curing laziness. In reality, procrastination has little to do with laziness or motivation and everything to do with the way you feel about yourself. Negative thought patterns in this realm breed anxiety, and thus begins the cruel cycle. Here’s what I mean.

Self-Criticism Eats Away at You

Where you find perfectionism, you will often find anxiety. You might embrace the thought that if the project isn’t done perfectly, then it shouldn’t be done at all.

But you’re not sure how to complete it perfectly.

And so you chip away at your self-esteem while the project sits until the last minute. Anxiety clouds your mind and haunts you, teasing you, and seemingly insulting your inability to do the project.

When you do get it done, you end up rushing through it, and are typically unhappy with your work. This might cause you to feel down on yourself even more, because, to you, finished is not better than perfect.

Your Procrastination is a Sign of Disorder

Do your ducks keep getting out of row? You might be waiting for the perfect time to do the project. But it never seems to be the perfect time.

There is always something wrong or out of place. It might seem like you run around in circles, struggling to get things back into place. You’re driven by the need to get life aligned so you can do your project, whatever that project might be.

If only this or that would work out, then you could get things done.

What’s really happening? Your procrastination is your way of expressing that you feel your life is spinning out of control. You don’t feel like you’re on top of things and anxiously live that way.

Your Procrastination is a Sign of Overwhelm

Procrastination is often more a symptom than the actual problem. The problem lies further beneath your surface.

Procrastinating on a project might mean that you feel overwhelmed with the actual project. That you really don’t know where to start or that it’s too much for you.

To know for sure, when you procrastinate, ask yourself if you are intimidated by the job ahead. Do you believe you can do it?

Feeling overwhelmed can undoubtedly cause anxiety. But the feeling of overwhelm is manageable. Rather than approaching the project all at once, break it up into more chewable bites or smaller steps.

Procrastination is a Nagging Feeling Weighing You Down

When you procrastinate, it’s almost as if you’re trying to survive under the weight of the project. Even before diving into it, it appears to hang above you, pushing you further and further down until you feel suffocated.

The longer you wait, the heavier it feels. And the heavier it feels, the wider you open the door to feelings of anxiety as you feel more and more suffocated.

The project delay can even lead to panic or anxiety attacks.

You may get to the point where the project seems insurmountable, surrendering to the pressure or giving up, even before you attempt to complete the project.

You needn’t continue to lose time and energy this way.

Take the first step…

If you’re struggling with anxiety or procrastination, and you are ready to address how they may be affecting your life and body, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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