How to Tackle Anxiety-Induced Procrastination
I have an idea for a children's book, but anxiety-induced procrastination is in the way. I've been saying for years that I want to write a book, and last week inspiration struck. I am telling you this because I know that if I don't, the idea will remain just that: an idea. And I will continue to be what I've been for years: someone who says they want to write a book, writes a few chapters, then leaves them to gather dust in a long-forgotten folder on a laptop. I am a pathological procrastinator, but I believe I have found a way to tackle my anxiety-induced procrastination and share it here in the hopes that it will help you, too.
5 Steps to Escape the Cycle of Anxiety-Induced Procrastination
- Have a clearly defined goal: Having a clearly defined goal makes it easier to refocus your energy when you veer off task or lose momentum because of anxiety-provoked procrastination. In my case, it seems fairly simple: I want to write a book, but I have also had to consider whether my objective is to just finish the book or to get it published, and if so, how I will go about that. I have decided that I want to write a book and try to get it published by an independent publisher specializing in children's literature.
- Identify the reason you have been procrastinating up to this point: Procrastination is rarely caused by laziness. It is usually a response to fear: your mind throwing up roadblocks to stop you from attempting the thing you want/need to do so you don't have to face your fear. For me, it is a fear of failure, or more specifically, a fear of people knowing I am a failure. I know categorically that the reason I have not yet written my book is that I am terrified of having my writing rejected, of being told that I am talentless, and having that fact exposed to the world. So, I haven't tried — because they can't reject me if I don't try.
- Deal with the issue that is preventing you from getting started: I need to learn to be okay with the fact that I might fail. I need to accept that publishers might not be interested in my writing. I need to accept that I might have to tell people, "I didn't manage to get it published, and I can't afford to self-publish." One technique I've found particularly effective (if a little extreme) is to stand in front of the mirror and say, "You might fail." This forces me to literally face the thing I fear the most and sit with it, building up the mental fortitude I will need if I do, in fact, fail. I would recommend this approach to anyone looking to accept and move on from anxiety.
- Make a commitment and hold yourself accountable: This might mean making a personal promise to start a task/project on a particular day, or it might mean making a public declaration of your intentions like I am doing here. I intend to write a book, do detailed research on the publication process, and submit my manuscript for publication. I might fail (see point three), but I will try. Now I am accountable to both myself and anybody who reads this article to follow through on my commitment.
- Get started: This is both the most obvious and the most difficult "step" to take. It's easy to write lists — it's difficult to follow through. So, my commitment to you, readers, is that once I have uploaded this blog entry, I will get started.
It Is Possible to Stop Procrastinating and Escape Anxiety
Procrastination, like perfection, is the enemy of progress. It can be completely devastating to both your personal and professional life and is too often confused with laziness or apathy. It is not laziness that makes you procrastinate: it is anxiety. So, ask yourself what you are anxious about, accept it, make a commitment to try, and get started! Procrastination can wait.
Lear, J. (2021, April 16). How to Tackle Anxiety-Induced Procrastination, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2021/4/how-to-tackle-anxiety-induced-procrastination
Author: Jennifer Lear
These are fantastic suggestions! Number 2 in particular, identify the reason you've been procrastinating is so important and one that often gets overlooked or forgotten. This is usually the key "why" behind what is keeping us stuck and until we address that, real progress will be difficult to make.