By Tara Pratt, MFT

Updating your Facebook, binge watching your favorite show, and impulse buying new sneakers on Amazon probably wasn’t on your most recent project’s to-do list. But for many, procrastination has become part of the experience of completing a project. Thankfully, moderate procrastination is manageable and more of a nuisance. For some, however, procrastination can become destructive and costly.

For many of us anxiety is the reason we procrastinate, which in turn can create more anxiety. When life becomes overwhelming, it’s easy to start postponing tasks rather than face them head-on. Or perhaps, it’s not that you’re overwhelmed, but that you’re anxious about a negative response to your work.  The first step in fixing anxiety-related procrastination is realizing that your negative thoughts, rather than an outside stimulus, are preventing you from taking the next step.

A great way to confront this kind of anxiety is the “Worst, Best, Most Realistic” approach. This technique asks you to examine the worst, best, and most realistic outcomes of your actions. For example, imagine you’re a landscape artist that was commissioned to paint a portrait. You begin to feel anxious over the quality of work you can produce. Here’s where the technique comes into play:

What’s the worst outcome?

  • You could paint the portrait poorly and the client will be unhappy.

What’s the best outcome?

  • You could excel and discover a new talent/interest. Those who commissioned the work will be impressed with your ability to learn new skills.

What’s the most realistic outcome?

  • You could struggle with some aspects of the work, and do well at others. You may not be as confident with your work as your landscape paintings, but you’re now less fearful of similar projects.

This technique is a great way to give you some perspective when confronting the anxieties keeping you from your work. With a more collected approach to your project, you will be better able to set manageable steps to begin.

We all procrastinate at some point in our lives to various degrees, but when it gets out of hand then it can create a domino effect of stressors. When your stress levels rise, because of a looming deadline or things left undone, for example, remember that you have the power to change. Hopefully these tips will give you insight and guidance around your procrastination patterns. Take the time to evaluate your procrastination today…or tomorrow.