Procrastination: The art of putting off until tomorrow what you could have done today. Procrastination: The bane of every anxiety disorder sufferer’s existence. Procrastination, oh how I hate you!
If I had to name the one anxiety disorder-related characteristic that’s caused me the most suffering, I’d undoubtedly have to choose procrastination. It’s the most tenacious, devilishly tricky, and just plain stubborn coping strategy I’ve ever had to train myself out of.
Yup, procrastination and anxiety disorder is a real bitch. Fortunately, there are simple ways to overcome procrastination and do the things that scare you.
How Procrastination and Anxiety Disorder Keeps You Stuck
For example, right now, I don’t want to be sitting here writing this blog post. I’d much rather blow it off so I can go watch television. I hate blogging! I hate writing!
Why? Because it scares me. I think I suck at it. Every time I sit down in front of this stupid computer, I have to push through the fear that says I suck, my writing sucks, the Driving Peace program sucks, and nobody gives a crap about what I have to say anyhow.
I probably don’t have to tell you how old that gets.
In his book Monkey Mind, Daniel Smith says there are two types of anxiety sufferers: stiflers and chaotics. I’m a stifler. All my anxious friends are also stiflers, probably because chaotics freak me out too much to be friends with.
“Stiflers are those who work on the principle that if they hold as still, silent, and clenched as possible they will be able to cut the anxiety off from its energy sources, the way you cinch off the valve on a radiator.”
– Daniel Smith, Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
Sounds like a very good description of procrastination, doesn’t it?
Carol Look’s Eliminate Procrastination
This program uses tapping to help you stop procrastinating.
5 Simple Ways to Overcome Procrastination and Anxiety Disorder By Doing Something That Scares You
If you live with anxiety disorder for any significant length of time, you develop little coping strategies for dealing with procrastination — little tricks and mind games that help you slither out of its seductive, rubbery grasp. It’s sad that we have to develop coping strategies for what is essentially a self-destructive coping strategy, but there you go.
Trapped within the vice-like grip of paralyzing anxiety, here are five little tricks I’ve learned to beat back procrastination and keep life from sliding into complete disarray:
- Plunge right in. — Also known as the brute force method, this is where you turn and just do something that scares you without giving yourself time to think about it. It’s like a punch-drunk amateur boxer throwing hay makers. It’s not pretty, but it works.
- Sidle up to it. — When force doesn’t work, try guile instead. That’s how I managed to write this blog post. Instead of writing about procrastination and anxiety disorder (which is what the post is actually about), I started by writing about how much I hate writing because it’s something that scares me. In fact, “I hate writing” were the first words I typed. By writing about hating to write, I was at least doing the thing I was procrastinating about: writing. The rest of the post just sort of flowed from there.
- Limit your exposure. — If you have to do something that absolutely terrifies you, like, say, going into a crowded supermarket, do it for five minutes and then walk out. Hell, do it for one minute and walk out! You’ll still be terrified, but only for one minute. A mere 60 seconds. Piece of cake. It’s easier to do something really scary if you know it’s not going to last very long.
- Ask for help. — Easier said than done, right? Not asking for help is probably the second most frustrating characteristic of anxiety disorder. So, chain #1 and #4 together. Brute force your way into asking a friend to go into the store with you, then go in there for one minute. And asking for help doesn’t necessarily mean asking another person to help you, either. “Help” can take many forms. For instance, I desperately clutched my copy of The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook every time I went out in public for months. Just holding the book in my hands helped me feel like I wasn’t so alone.
- Avoid distractions and keep on going. — Sometimes you get on a roll once you’ve overcome the hump of procrastination. Turn off the phone and just keep going when you find yourself in that situation. My motto is to get as much done as possible for as long as I possibly can. Like a starving dog that stumbles across a juicy deer carcass, I treat getting on a roll like a stranger crashes a wedding reception. Eat and drink as much as you can before they throw you out.
Procrastination is basically just a short-term solution to doing the things that scare us. Unfortunately, healing from anxiety disorder of any kind involves doing rather than waiting, acting rather than analyzing, and wading in instead of simply watching.
The good news is that, like procrastination itself, doing something that scares you becomes easier the more you do it. It’s the getting started part that’s hardest.
Now, if I can just figure out how to make myself go to the gym…
PS – How do you deal with procrastination and anxiety disorder? Got any useful tips or insights you’d like to share? Like my Facebook page and join the discussion. We’d love to see you there.
11 thoughts on “Procrastination and Anxiety Disorder – 5 Simple Ways to Do Something That Scares You”
Thank you for this post! I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to realize my sometimes chronic procrastination is related to anxiety and not laziness. I’m currently trying to create a lesson plan for my very first class as an EFL teacher abroad (even though I just underwent teacher training). It’s taken me hours just to start, not for lack of motivation but probably because of anxiety due to “impostor syndrome”. I think I’ll try suggestion #2 and just do something, just one idea. Thank you again.
Hey, Greg! Thank you for your words. Right now I’m stuck in front of my computer trying to figure out what I’m going to write to my Master’s thesis. I feel completely uncapable of doing it. I’m with JS there… I study, I read, but when it comes to writing, I’d rather suffer from some physical pain instead. Anyway, thanks for the tips! I’ve just started my writing with this comment 🙂
You probably wrote this long time ago but still I’d say thank you for writing it.It made me feel that I am not alone and the strategies are good to start with.Keep the good work and I wish you all the best.x
Hey. Your blog was a lot less pretentious than most i am looking at. My procrastinating is so bad i simply won’t do anything. I don’t even know if i have anxiety. Everything else is fine except for academic writing. I read and engage and love it, but can’t write. I think my problems are perfectionism and fear of judgement but really also a lot of really not knowing how to do this or where to start, it all sounds so fake and wanky. I have asked for help, from everyone, but noone can help. They either don’t know anything about the subjects, or don’t understand what my problem is as i’m smart and get good marks usually. But now i’ve completely shut down, failed a subject and should be finishing the 3 assignments that are all overdue for the other one but i just stare at them. I don’t even let myself watch tv. I don’t know if i need CBT or something, it is ridiculous.
It does sounds like some form of anxiety to me. Perfectionism is basically the fear of being criticized for making mistakes. And there’s no way to learn something you don’t know very well without making mistakes. It’s just part of it.
I totally get how you feel. I do think CBT therapy (practicing doing new things you don’t understand) would be a great asset for you.
I have fear of leaving my house. I also started having trouble driving to work. I had to pull over because the anxiety was so bad I had to call someone to come get me how embarrassing.
Plus I have ADD which makes me either want everything perfect or I just won’t do nothing at all. No way to live!
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I didn’t realize you’re on HubPages. I just starting following your hubs and look forward to checking out a few!
I’m all new here 🙂 Glad to find you mate. I enjoyed reading this one as it relates to me.
I like the tips you have mentioned above. Well, I’m not good at asking for help in most time ’cause I think I should work on my things own. But sometimes need to ask for help to move on too. Yeah, “Plunge right in”. It works for me.
I have fears myself such as public speaking. It’s not about procrastination but can relate to it. Limiting exposure is a good tip for me. I wanna go try it out Greg.
Distraction is the powerful one I guess. Especially when we work online and wanna concentrate on the job we are on. I’m getting distracted but keeps moving. Music helps me stay late night if I need to finish mine. Anyway if I’m more busy, the less I open to distraction.
Thanks for your tips 🙂 Have a great week…
Thanks for stopping by Mayura.
Distraction is a problem for me as well. I’m trying to become more efficient at time (and attention) management. I think it’s a big part of being successful in online business. It’s so easy to let your attention wander.
Sounds like a case of procrastination with a big dose of perfectionism as well. I struggle with perfectionism too. I’m afraid to make mistakes. Getting Driving Peace out there has been a huge battle, not because of driving anxiety, but really because of social anxiety and the fear of doing anything wrong.
That’s also part of the trap of procrastination – putting things off you’re afraid you won’t do well. And of course, by definition, we can’t get better at doing things without doing them badly at first.
Making mistakes is actually part of getting good at something, and procrastination + perfectionism = not making mistakes while also not making very much forward progress.
Thanks for you thoughts, Sandra.
Wow, Greg, this really got to me. I ve been procrastinating for over 10 years now. It´s not that i don´t do things, I just don´t do the things that are meaningful and important. I´m a stifler as well. I sit and wait for anxiety to leave before starting to do anything. There was a time when I fought it off telling myself that if I took the time to organize everything first, then what followed would flow. And it sort of worked. Now I can´t even get to that phase. I usually use strategy 1 when nothing else works, but I end up doing whatever it is I have to do wrong. I make little mistakes that discourage me. It takes two to three plunges to get me rolling. Lately, I don´t have the energy for plunge number 2.