Procrastinator is a word that I never thought I would use to describe myself. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been the type to just get shit done. That is until more recently, when my anxiety has been creeping back into my life.
I started to become in a way afraid to complete work, and be my normal get shit done self. It wasn’t until reading The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge (a great read for anxiety suffers) – that I realised my procrastination and anxiety could be linked.
Something I probably should get on top of fairly sharpish.
Thinking about the causes of my panic related procrastination, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 3 main factors: Perfectionism, Feeling Overwhelmed and Fear of Failure (my biggest contributor). It dawned on me, that these 3 factors are probably more common than we all think – and behind a lot of the reason why so many of us struggle to get shit done.
The majority of anxiety suffers will also suffer with some form of perfectionism. The desire that everything we do must be perfect – an incredibly demanding task. Like many, I think that being a perfectionist is actually a pretty good attribute – however, this is where I think I’m going wrong.
Setting myself such high standards is causing me to be held back from completing tasks; incase they aren’t up to my perfectionist standards. Then begins the vicious cycle of critiquing every little thing about my work, unknowingly using my perfectionism to procrastinate. Why would I want that vicious cycle to begin again? Surely I want to off put it for as long as possible?
Worry and perfectionism are quite closely linked in my opinion, they make us afraid to move forward and to progress. The more we put things off out of fear of it not being perfect, the more stressed and anxious we get about having not completed the work we should have been.
The best way to start overcoming this toxic perfectionism trait a lot of us possess, I find it ideal to start allowing myself to make mistakes. Give myself the freedom to create things that aren’t perfect, because whats the issue? A reminder this doesn’t make me any less of a person. Nor does it mean I’m bad at what I do.
Whenever I’m briefed with a new project at university, it’s basically protocol for me to rush back to my flat to have a work induced panic attack. I get incredibly overwhelmed when I know there is a big task ahead. Simply not knowing where to being. Again, leading to us putting tasks off.
A big issue for a lot of us, is that we see the task we’ve been faced with as a massive task. Starting to look at it as a series of smaller, more manageable tasks really helped me get back on track. To-do lists are my best friend in this instance. Write out the things I need to get done, with the most relevant first.
Don’t know where to start? Just pick somewhere, anywhere. Pick out the smallest thing on your to-do list, recognise the feeling of accomplishment once completed. Work up to the big stuff, because you’ve already proved to yourself you’re capable.
Fear Of Failure
This is my biggest issue.
And it drives me mad.
Recently I’ve really noticed how I’m prettified of not achieving my goals. Not getting a job with my degree. Not being in work. Not being able to support myself. I basically just look too far ahead and set myself up for failure.
Much like the perfectionism trait, a lot of anxiety suffers also suffer with low self esteem issues. And I for one know what a struggle this can be. We’re held back by the overwhelming thought we aren’t good enough to complete the tasks we need to.
This is another one where I need to just look at the bigger picture. Remind myself: I wouldn’t be at university if I didn’t have the skills required to complete my degree. I wouldn’t have a blog if I didn’t know somewhere deep down that I had it in me to make a success out of it.
Taking a step back, and stopping myself from thinking too far into the future has really helped me combat this one. Only letting myself think a week ahead, not years in advance. That way my anxiety, even thought not conquered, it’s greatly minimised. I start to believe I can get the work done, and then before you know it I’ve bashed out 5 sketchbook pages. Or a new blog post!
- Allow yourself to make mistakes – it’s human nature
- To-do lists are your best friend – utilise them
- Take one day at a time – you have limited control over your future
What are your top tips for conquering procrastination?
All my love,