Sometimes, procrastination can feel okay – right? There are a ton of things left on that to-do list, but you’re just so comfortable on the couch, under the blankets, in your PJs – besides, you’ve got plenty of time. Until you don’t. We know it well.

Procrastination leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Chances are, those things you have to do aren’t getting done nearly as well as you’d hoped. 

But maybe you’re not too comfy to complete those tasks – maybe there’s something more to your procrastination. Here are three reasons why we may procrastinate and how it affects our mental health.

Why do I procrastinate?

Fear Of The Outcome

Do you ever worry about tackling a task or an assignment because you think you’ll never be happy with the outcome? For example, maybe you have to cook a meal, but you’re dreading it because you feel the need to make everything perfect. From the crisp creases in the special napkins to the five-star gravy you want to whip up for that dinner party, it can be overwhelming.

Before diving into a dinner – or whatever you need to do – know that nothing is perfect. It’s nice to live by certain standards, but by procrastinating the completion of these chores, you’re causing yourself even more stress and anxiety for three reasons:

  1. Face it – you were dreading the chore from the get go. 
  2. You’re now dreading it because you haven’t left yourself ample time to complete the job to your standards.
  3. You’re stressed because the outcome isn’t what you had hoped.

Before taking on a project, keep in mind that this chore will have to get done eventually. So, it’s best to live in the moment instead of shirking the responsibility until the very last minute. Procrastination only leaves you with less time to provide good results.

Lack of Interest

Not many people are fortunate enough to love their job – it’s work. But you have to do what you were hired to do. Unfortunately, sometimes people are assigned a project that’s just not for them. So, they push it aside and complete the tasks that they like to do. That is, until they run out of those tasks and are left with a late, still pending project. There’s that anxiety again. Now, that anxiety is back because:

  1. You dreaded starting the project from the moment it was assigned to you.
  2. It lived in the back of your mind while you procrastinated and worked on other smaller tasks with softer due dates.
  3. Now it’s either late or almost late and you have to rush to complete it.
  4. The quality of the work isn’t nearly to your potential and you’re risking your position.

It can be tough to dive into something that isn’t within our interests. But it has to get done. Try not to analyze how much you hate doing the work. Just do it. And if that mindset doesn’t help, think of it this way: If you can’t bring yourself to work on the project, you won’t get to move on to other smaller, more interesting tasks that you actually love to do. Make it feel important or worthwhile. 

How do I stop procrastinating

Break it down

If you can’t tie a project to something you like, or you can’t talk yourself out of the mindset that it has to be perfect, try to break the chore down into sections. Take it a step at a time – but don’t forget to leave yourself time to actually try this tip. Instead of tackling it all it once, break it down. That way, it won’t seem as big and intimidating. 

Ask for help

Or maybe you’re worried about the outcome of the task. If you’re concerned because you’ve been putting off telling someone that you need help with something, try not to think too much about the outcome and ask – and if you don’t know where to begin with that, visit our article about how to find help. It’s best to find someone who you can trust and just ask. The longer you wait, the more anxious and stressed you’ll be.

Write down some goals

Start small. Maybe there are a few actions that you can do for ten minutes a day that will help you get in the right mindset. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself a roadmap. Whether you want to use a time sheet, or to-do list, or a good old-fashioned whiteboard, get yourself some accountability with tools!


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Samantha Curreli
Samantha Curreli is a staff writer at Reach Out Recovery. Sam is also a graduate of Arcadia University's MFA in Creative Writing Program and a freelance journalist for New Jersey music magazine, The Aquarian Weekly. She has had multiple pieces of fiction published in literary magazines and short story anthologies.

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