Am I Lazy? – Why I Procrastinate

From Tracy Fromm, Mental Health Counselor of Caring Communities

Have you ever felt the stress of putting off a task which needs to be completed and ended up feeling “very uncomfortable?”

The word, “procrastinate” has its origin from Latin, meaning, “to put off until tomorrow.”

We have all experienced procrastination. Putting off tasks provides a sense of temporary relief and because we feel a sense of “reward”, we end up procrastinating over and over again.

Procrastination is a way for us to cope with challenging emotions and negative moods. If we continue to procrastinate, we begin a process of self-blame with increased anxiety and feelings of low self- esteem.

These negative thoughts exacerbate our stress of a situation and increase feelings of anxiety.

Many times, procrastination is related to perfectionism. We don’t attempt a task, because we have to do it “right.”  We set expectations too high for ourselves, creating a need to do things “perfectly”, which results in not starting a project or task at all.

So how do we stop procrastinating?

This is accomplished by “rewiring” our brain.

To stop procrastinating, we must find a better reward than the temporary relief we feel when we put off completing projects or tasks.

Researchers found that students who were able to forgive themselves for not meeting their own expectations, were able to move past their maladaptive behavior and prioritize activities and tasks for the next time. Several subsequent studies have shown that self-compassion supports motivation and personal growth because self- compassion does not require anything external.

Another technique to combat procrastination is to break up tasks into “bite-sized” chunks, what psychologists call “partializing.” By completing small portions of tasks, in increments, this technique reduces our anxiety and literally calms our nerves. By removing roadblocks related to our tasks and mandated activities, we can make a smooth transition to accomplishing anything.

Please note: If you feel you have tremendous difficulty with completing deadlines or starting any project, please consult a licensed therapist who will help you with these behaviors. There are links to certain disorders, such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and passive-aggressive tendencies which play a role in chronic procrastination.

The following websites have valuable material for obtaining feedback and information regarding procrastination. Please check them out.

www.nami.org

www.apa.org

Additionally, anyone looking for free events, workshops, or seminars in their area regarding procrastination may wish to try www.meetup.com to locate those resources in their area.