Procrastination and Perfectionism

Posted by Candace Smith on Monday, October 22, 2012 Under: Common Problems


Think of something you have procrastinated on recently.  What were some of your thoughts and feelings about the task that influenced your decision to procrastinate?  

I work a lot with my clients on this issue, as it seems to affect everyone in different ways.  I have found that perfectionism is often the underlying (and often unconscious) issue that lies beneath procrastination.  We often feel as though we need to be able to do something 'all the way' or in a 'perfect' way before we can get started.

So when we think about doing something, say, writing a blog entry (haha), and even if we already have the topic picked out, our thoughts can get in the way of us getting started.  Thoughts like, "I don't think it's going to be very good," or "I need to get a lot more information before I can write a quality post," or "It's going to take so long and require so much work, I can't even think about doing it now," can all stop us in our tracks.  The corresponding emotions with those thoughts are usually anxiety-related, and the biological urge of anxiety is to avoid.

Avoiding = Procrastinating!

Common procrastinating thoughts are:

  • I am not good enough
  • I will get rejected, and if that happens, I couldn't tolerate it.
  • It is too overwhelming.
  • I don't know how it will turn out.
  • I don't feel like it.
  • I have to do it all, and I don't have the time nor the energy.

In my counseling practice, I first get clients to identify what thoughts they are having that proceed procrastinating, and to work on reframing and challenging the thoughts. I then coach clients to break their goals/projects down into smaller pieces, and to not get too in front of themselves about what might happen down the road.

I then help them with skills to manage rejection, and how to work with anxiety around doing the steps towards the goal they are working towards. I often point out that there is typically an all or nothing thought process around things, and that they will feel better if they try and find some middle ground. Just by starting off with small, manageable steps towards a goal will help them feel less anxious and give them a sense of accomplishment, that will build the momentum it takes to keep going.

I also help them try and learn how to redirect their attention when they are feeling negative and hopeless, and to get out of having to evaluate themselves, and to just do the behaviors like writing one blog post, or sending one resume per day or week. 

So, if you are procrastinating on something, identify and challenge the thoughts getting in the way, and then break down some of the pieces involved into manageable steps.  Set realistic goals around doing these steps, like cleaning one room in the house today, or taking a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood this week.  Once you have a few steps set, just do them without thinking/evaluating too much. 

Remember, avoidance = procrastination.

The more you can push yourself to not act on the avoidance, the anxiety will decrease and the motivation will increase!


Feel free to forward this on to those who might find it useful!  

Candace Smith
LCSW
 

In : Common Problems 


Tags: procrastination  perfectionism  anxiety  avoidance  "manage rejection  " "common procrastinating thoughts" 

Procrastination and Perfectionism

Posted by Candace Smith on Monday, October 22, 2012 Under: Common Problems


Think of something you have procrastinated on recently.  What were some of your thoughts and feelings about the task that influenced your decision to procrastinate?  

I work a lot with my clients on this issue, as it seems to affect everyone in different ways.  I have found that perfectionism is often the underlying (and often unconscious) issue that lies beneath procrastination.  We often feel as though we need to be able to do something 'all the way' or in a 'perfect' way before we can get started.

So when we think about doing something, say, writing a blog entry (haha), and even if we already have the topic picked out, our thoughts can get in the way of us getting started.  Thoughts like, "I don't think it's going to be very good," or "I need to get a lot more information before I can write a quality post," or "It's going to take so long and require so much work, I can't even think about doing it now," can all stop us in our tracks.  The corresponding emotions with those thoughts are usually anxiety-related, and the biological urge of anxiety is to avoid.

Avoiding = Procrastinating!

Common procrastinating thoughts are:

  • I am not good enough
  • I will get rejected, and if that happens, I couldn't tolerate it.
  • It is too overwhelming.
  • I don't know how it will turn out.
  • I don't feel like it.
  • I have to do it all, and I don't have the time nor the energy.

In my counseling practice, I first get clients to identify what thoughts they are having that proceed procrastinating, and to work on reframing and challenging the thoughts. I then coach clients to break their goals/projects down into smaller pieces, and to not get too in front of themselves about what might happen down the road.

I then help them with skills to manage rejection, and how to work with anxiety around doing the steps towards the goal they are working towards. I often point out that there is typically an all or nothing thought process around things, and that they will feel better if they try and find some middle ground. Just by starting off with small, manageable steps towards a goal will help them feel less anxious and give them a sense of accomplishment, that will build the momentum it takes to keep going.

I also help them try and learn how to redirect their attention when they are feeling negative and hopeless, and to get out of having to evaluate themselves, and to just do the behaviors like writing one blog post, or sending one resume per day or week. 

So, if you are procrastinating on something, identify and challenge the thoughts getting in the way, and then break down some of the pieces involved into manageable steps.  Set realistic goals around doing these steps, like cleaning one room in the house today, or taking a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood this week.  Once you have a few steps set, just do them without thinking/evaluating too much. 

Remember, avoidance = procrastination.

The more you can push yourself to not act on the avoidance, the anxiety will decrease and the motivation will increase!


Feel free to forward this on to those who might find it useful!  

Candace Smith
LCSW
 

In : Common Problems 


Tags: procrastination  perfectionism  anxiety  avoidance  "manage rejection  " "common procrastinating thoughts"