How to stop procrastinating?

I’m constantly procrastinating and leaving work to the last second, stressing myself out. Work keeps piling and I’m constantly anxious and down by my lack of self control. I can never keep to a task list and get worn down before even getting anything done.
Asked by Rumi

Hi Rumi. I am so glad that you have reached out for help. I really appreciate you bringing this great question on the topic of procrastination to the BetterHelp platform. It sounds like you are willing to make some changes for yourself in order to start improving your procrastinating behavior. It is a really good sign that you are reaching out for support at this time.

I realize that it may be of great difficulty to have to constantly cope with procrastinating behavior. I hope that you have some faith in yourself that you will be able to make small improvements over time, which will likely lead to attaining bigger goals. I understand what you are saying in that your work tasks tend to pile up. What are some of the challenging aspects of your work? It sounds like you are experiencing an element of burn out as well based on how you had mentioned feeling worn down before you even have a chance to get started on completing your tasks.

I have some questions for you to consider as you process your experiences with procrastination: When did you notice that this behavior started for you? Is this something new or something that you have been dealing with for a while now? How are you feeling about your behavior? Do you experience heightened anxiety or stress in the moments of procrastination? What have you been doing to manage your time lately?

My advice is to explore some of these questions in therapy, through therapeutic journaling or even when talking with family or a close friend. Is there a person in your life that can help guide you and remind you to stay on track with your goals and deadlines? Utilize your support circle as a means to check in, obtain gentle reminders, encouragement and assistance. Perhaps you will be able to return the favor for the people in your life some day!

The first step for you to avoid procrastination could be to begin focusing on time management. What time management skills do you have that you currently are not using? Would you be willing to keep track of due dates, events and assignments in a daily calendar or planner? Are you more of a visual learner or a hands on learner? Consider what your strengths are and focus your energy on learning new ways to improve your time management skills. You can absolutely build upon the talents, strengths and interests that you already have.

The fact that you are feeling really stressed out about the procrastination is concerning to hear. I imagine that the stressful feelings must be an added layer to this experience. What can you due to manage your feelings of stress? What has worked for you in the past? I would like to encourage you to practice stress reduction skills on a daily or weekly basis. I can share with you a list of stress management strategies for your review:

In addition to practicing stress management techniques, I would like to encourage you to participate in therapeutic writing or drawing directives. As a provisionally licensed art therapist, I always recommend art making as fuel for healing. Creating art, in its many forms, may allow for you to express the feelings and emotions that you have been experiencing. It is important that you have a strategy for emotional expression that you feel comfortable with doing. An art therapy approach for procrastination could be drawing a map or a timeline that depicts your daily or weekly to do list. I would also encourage you to explore more about your technique of procrastination. What has this behavior been doing for you? What are you trying to communicate to yourself, or perhaps to others, by procrastinating? Draw a picture of what procrastination means to you. Set a timer as a means to start practicing setting time limits for yourself. Time limits can also enhance and cultivate spontaneity, which in turn can reduce feelings of anxiety. Slow down your thoughts and close your eyes as you envision a calm, peaceful place. I will share it with you an activity on developing your inner peaceful place. Here is the link:

In addition, I recommend making a list, such as a to-do list. You may want to keep track of your to do-list on post it notes, in a small notebook or even on a white board. It can be such a great feeling to visually see yourself physically cross off the items on your list as you complete them. Try to set multiple deadlines for yourself and your plan for accomplishments. If you missed the first one, you will have a second deadline as a back up plan.

At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual counseling sessions. I realize that you have already recognized that you may be experiencing a loss of self control. Attending therapy appointments on a consistent basis may give you the foundation and encouragement that you need to regain a sense of control. Also, the therapist that you are matched with will likely help you in learning new skills. This is a great way for you to practice taking accountability and managing your time. In addition to individual sessions, you may benefit from attending a group or a groupinar. Surrounding yourself with other people who have had similar experiences, behaviors and symptoms may be beneficial for you to hear other people's perspectives on this topic.

Thank you again, Rumi, for reaching out for support at this time. I want to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a great day!