Plowing Through Procrastination & Facing Down Anxiety

We’ve all run out of steam before. Unfortunately, we rarely get to work on projects, problems, or tasks that we are always excited about, and life can get in the way of our motivation at times. Nevertheless, we have to figure out how to trudge forward.

Why We Procrastinate

Often, the hardest thing to do is simply to get started. We may be tired, disinterested, frustrated, or stumped, which can prevent us from jumping into a new task.

But procrastinating can lead us to dig deep holes that feel increasingly deeper as time wears on. In fact, studies indicate that procrastination can magnify stress, reduce performance, and ultimately, lead to detrimental health effects such as depression, hypertension, and heart disease.

There are several factors that can cause or fuel procrastination. These include not knowing how to start, being distracted by other more interesting things, lacking interest in the task, and not having the confidence that you’ll be able to figure out and slay the task at hand.

Seeing the Future

One good tactic for getting started is to visualize the task being completed and imagine how you’ll feel after you’ve slain the beast. Thinking about whether or not the task is fun becomes less of a factor when you keep the end goal in mind. Getting it off your plate is the ultimate award—satisfying yourself, your teammates, and your clients.

Along the way, obstacles may rise unexpectedly and slow you down. It’s times like these when you may need to summon your perseverance. Rather than letting problems cripple you, think again about the future and your goal.

Tackling Anxiety

Anxiety can be one of the factors that often feeds procrastination. It can affect us in many ways, leading to self-doubt, lack of focus, and (of course) an inability to get stuff done. To deal with anxiety:

  • Remember that anxiety is normal and happens to everyone. How you recognize and deal with it when it sneaks up on you is key.
  • Take care of yourself mentally and physically. When you’re low on sleep or not treating your body well, your risk for anxiety goes up. You need to take care of yourself both in and out of work.
  • Consider therapy. I have suffered from anxiety many times over the years and have sought therapy at times to help me cope.
  • Be aware. Recognizing anxiety when it strikes is extremely helpful in managing it. When you’re aware of what’s going on inside, you can understand and deal honestly with your feelings, watch for triggers, and better explain how you’re feeling to other people.
  • Be open and vulnerable. Many of us clam up when we are faced with a problem we don’t understand, or when we feel like we’re falling short. This is counterproductive and causes anxiety to grow. It’s extremely helpful to practice vulnerability with yourself and your co-workers when tough challenges arise. It reduces your own anxiety, and it helps decrease the anxiety of your co-workers.

We are all learning and facing challenges every day, so it’s important to find a way to face up to these challenges and persevere. Shouldering burdens on your own, especially when you are stuck, is neither healthy nor productive. Instead, step back, review your situation, and pull in a friend to explain your dilemma. Often, just getting out of your own head can free you and help you proceed and conquer the dragons that may cross your path.