Procrastination and Social Anxiety Disorder

Procrastination and Social Anxiety Disorder

When we don’t want to do some work, it is amazing what our minds can come up with to avoid doing what needs to be done. Procrastination gives us a temporary sense of relief, but very soon it will be followed with the anxiety that you’re not doing what you are supposed to do. Procrastination looks totally illogical from the outside but it makes emotional sense to the procrastinator at that moment. Procrastination is more of an emotion management problem than a time management problem.

If you have social anxiety disorder (SAD), then you most likely procrastinate out of fear of failure or fear of disapproval of others. You might put off difficult discussions with others, phone calls, and probably get behind certain tasks and appointments that involve working with others. Essentially, procrastinators are just waiting for a better time to deal with other people, just to gain more reassurance of one-self to deal with the situation.

Below are some general SAD reasons that your brain gives you to delay a task.

  • Thought: “If I call right now she might be busy. It’s better to wait an hour as that is probably a quieter time of day for her”
  • Fact: Unless you know for sure that someone is busy, there is no reason to wait. You can’t predict someone else’s day.
  • Thought: “If I call right now about this XX and if he counter questions me then I am probably not well prepared to explain him. This might make him think I don’t know what I am asking.”
  • Fact: “Even though you think so, you don’t need to research for 2 days to make that call. All you have to do is to just go through it for 5 minutes before the call.”
  • Thought: “My coworker looks really busy. I don’t want to bother him now, I will wait until after lunch”
  • Fact: Even if your coworker is busy now, he might be even busier after lunch. By telling him now that you need help, he can either respond right away or plan a time to talk with you.

But, waiting might make matters worse. Because people will not look at your ‘waiting’ the way you see it from the inside. People will look at it and judge that you lack responsibility and that you’re not trustworthy with important stuff. Sometimes work stuff can get quite magnified if not done immediately. Apart from your anxiety, if there is no other reason to put off that phone call or that discussion with a colleague, then please do it right away!

When you predict negative outcomes, your brain will not allow you to go ahead. You will procrastinate on something, if you:

  • If you expect someone will react badly to raising this issue
  • Are expecting to struggle with this task
  • Are unable to see a completion and can only visualize yourself dragging with this work all along

Half the battle is over if you don’t predict a negative outcome. If you find it difficult to initiate, plan and execute your tasks, then try taking help from your spouses or co-workers in initiating your work. You cannot imagine how fast things get done once they are started. More importantly, while procrastination looks like a behavioral issue out of laziness, it is seldom so. Recognize that some of your anxiety about starting or planning complex self-driven tasks may be because you find it difficult on a cognitive level. In other words, don’t misattribute your behavior to laziness or poor motivation –  it will just make you feel bad about yourself and more likely to procrastinate.

Hope this is useful, thank you.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I just read the book. It has made me see procrastination in a totally different lens. Thank you.

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