The Procrastination-Anxiety Connection: Is Your Delayed Action A Symptom Of Something Bigger?

It is a sensation all of us know too well; you have a deadline looming, but can’t for the life of you force yourself to start. Welcome to the age-old issue that is procrastination – is it just an occasional ‘off day’, or is it an indication of something more serious, such as anxiety?

This article aims to explore this very question and unlock the truth behind whether is procrastination a sign of anxiety. So, without further ado, let us get stuck in and see if we can identify the hows and whys of this phenomenon.

Procrastination: The Sore Experience

Procrastination can be a really sore experience. It’s something that many of us can relate to, and it’s a challenge to conquer. We all know the feeling of procrastination – when we have something important to do but we just don’t feel like doing it. Instead, we find ourselves scrolling through our phones or watching Netflix for hours on end. 

We all know it too well. We’ve all been there; you have an assignment due, but just can’t force yourself to start it. You open your laptop, close it again and scroll through your phone for a while. This is the classic sign of procrastination; something which we are all familiar with. But why do we procrastinate? Is it simply procrastination or is there something more serious at play?

At its core, procrastination is about having difficulty managing time and tasks effectively. But why do so many of us struggle with this? One reason is that it’s easier to take the path of least resistance – postponing what needs to be done in favor of more immediate short-term rewards such as entertainment and social media.

The problem is that if left unchecked, procrastination can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety down the road as deadlines pile up and expectations become harder to meet. 

Is Procrastination A Sign Of Anxiety

Procrastination is a behavior that many people struggle with, and it is often seen as an avoidance tactic. It can be a sign of anxiety because it serves as a way to cope with or manage the feeling of stress that comes along with certain tasks or activities. Research shows that procrastination is more common among those who experience higher levels of anxiety and stress, indicating that there could be a correlation. 

Studies have found that procrastination can actually increase levels of stress and anxiety in those who are already stressed, due to pressure from looming deadlines or expectations. It can become a vicious cycle if allowed to continue, since the individual may feel even more pressured once they realize how much time has been wasted away by procrastinating. 

This research suggests that procrastination for some could be seen as an expression of their underlying anxieties rather than simply an irresponsible habit. For example, if someone has social anxiety, they may put off tasks that require them to interact with other people out of fear or discomfort. 

Research also indicates that procrastinators tend to engage in other maladaptive coping strategies such as risk-taking behaviors when trying to manage their anxieties. This further highlights the connection between procrastination and anxiety and suggests that it should not be dismissed as merely a bad habit but instead taken seriously as something which could mask deep-rooted anxieties. 

We might not start a task because of fear

In addition to anxiety and fear of failure, other psychological and emotional impediments have been linked to increased levels of procrastination. For example, depression has been found to be associated with decreased self-motivation and increased procrastination behaviors. Similarly, research suggests that perfectionism may lead people to prioritize tasks that are perceived to be less important, thus leading them to procrastinate on more challenging tasks.

Overall, procrastination can certainly be seen as one indicator of underlying anxieties in individuals struggling with them. The important thing is recognizing these signs early on so the person can get the support they need before things reach a critical point where it becomes even harder for them to function day-to-day without significant help from outside sources.

12 Sign Of Procrastination Accompanied By Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in different ways, and procrastination is often one of the signs. Knowing what these signs are can help you recognize if procrastination is due to underlying anxiety so that you can take steps to address the issue before it becomes worse. Here are 12 signs of procrastination accompanied by anxiety:

  1. Focusing on minor tasks to avoid the main task at hand.
  2. Making excuses rather than taking action.
  3. Overthinking and worrying about potential outcomes.
  4. Engaging in procrastination-promoting activities such as checking social media.
  5. Avoiding certain people or situations due to stress or fear of failure.
  6. Feeling overwhelmed by large projects and tasks.
  7. Indulging in perfectionist tendencies and never feeling satisfied with one’s work.
  8. Experiencing physical signs of anxiety such as increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, etc.
  9. Becoming easily distracted from the task at hand by other activities.
  10. Constantly delaying when it comes to starting a task.
  11. Over-analyzing every detail and often feeling discouraged or defeated before the task is even begun.
  12. Ruminating on past failures rather than focusing on the present moment or future successes.

These signs of procrastination accompanied by anxiety can help people identify if their behavior is linked to deeper emotional issues and could benefit from additional support.

8 Potential Causes Of Procrastination

Though procrastination has often been dismissed as simply being a bad habit or lack of motivation, research suggests that there may be deeper psychological reasons for why someone puts off tasks. Here are 8 potential causes of procrastination:

  1. Fear of Failure – Individuals may procrastinate due to a fear that they will fail if they try something new or challenging.
  2. Perfectionism – People who strive for perfection may put off completing tasks as they never feel their work is “good enough”, leading them to constantly revise and edit it.
  3. Lack of Interest – When people don’t find the task at hand interesting, motivating themselves can be difficult, resulting in procrastination.
  4. Unclear Goals – If goals are not clear or well defined then it can be hard to motivate oneself to start a project or task as there is no real sense of direction.
  5. Low Self-Esteem – Low self-esteem can lead people to become over-critical of their own work, leading them to put off tasks.
  6. Unfamiliarity/Lack of Confidence – Not feeling confident or familiar with the task at hand may discourage individuals from starting it, resulting in procrastination.
  7. Fear of Rejection – People may be afraid that if they try something new, they will be rejected and ridiculed for their efforts, leading them to avoid taking any risks.
  8. Overwhelm and Stress – Feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks or a sense that you are “behind” can lead people to procrastinate as a means of avoiding the stress associated with it all. 

It is important to be aware of these potential causes of procrastination, as understanding why someone might be putting off a task can help provide them with the right support and strategies to address it.

Do People With Anxiety Procrastinate A Lot?

Yes, people with anxiety often procrastinate a lot. This is because anxious individuals often experience difficulty with decision-making, fear of failure, and perfectionism which can lead to procrastination. When faced with a task that requires effort and/or decision-making, people with anxiety may avoid completing it due to the fear of failure or not doing the task properly.

Additionally, some people with anxiety may find it difficult to focus on tasks and prioritize them in a timely manner. 

Anxious individuals may also be overwhelmed by the number of tasks they have to complete. As a result, they might feel like they don’t have enough time to get everything done so they might choose to put off doing some tasks until later. Anxiety can also interfere with sleep which can further contribute to procrastination.

Is procrastination a sign of anxiety

A lack of sleep has been linked to poorer executive functioning, making it even more difficult for someone who already struggles with decision-making and prioritizing tasks. Those who suffer from anxiety might use procrastination as an escape from their worries and anxieties by engaging in activities that offer them short-term distractions but don’t necessarily help in the long run when it comes to completing their tasks.

Thus, these factors make it much more likely for those suffering from anxiety disorder to procrastinate more than those without an anxiety disorder.

Procrastination Anxiety Loop

Ah, procrastination anxiety loop. We’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s a frustrating cycle of being too anxious to start something, putting it off until the last minute, and then feeling even more anxious because you’re running out of time.

It’s like having an internal tug-of-war between your desire to get things done and your reluctance to start.

So, what actually happens in the procrastination anxiety loop? Well, it starts with feelings of anxiety about a task that needs to be done. This creates an urge to procrastinate—to put off the task—in order to avoid dealing with the uncomfortable emotions associated with it.

So, you do something else instead—like scrolling through social media or watching TV—which only serves to make you feel worse in the end. You begin to feel guilty and ashamed for not getting started on your task, which leads to more anxiety and makes it even harder to get motivated. And so the cycle goes round and round until eventually, something forces you into action—like a looming deadline or pressure from someone else—jolting you back into reality and giving you no choice but to complete the task.

Why Does My Anxiety Make Me Procrastinate?- 5 Reasons 

When it comes to managing everyday tasks, procrastination can be a major challenge—especially if you are dealing with anxiety. Anxiety often makes us doubt our decisions, second-guess ourselves, and worry about making mistakes or not living up to expectations. These worries can create an urge to put off the task in order to avoid dealing with the uncomfortable emotions associated with it. So why does my anxiety make me procrastinate?

There are several potential reasons why anxiety can lead to procrastination. Here are some of the common ones:

  1. Anxiety And Decision-Making: People with anxiety often have difficulty making decisions, especially in unfamiliar or complex situations. This can lead to procrastination as they may feel overwhelmed and unable to decide which task to start first or how to approach it. They may also be more likely to become stuck in unproductive thinking patterns such as perfectionism or over-analysis, leading them to avoid taking action altogether.
  2. Fear Of Failure: Those who suffer from anxiety can also be crippled by fear of failure which causes them to put off tasks in order to avoid potential disappointment or criticism. This is particularly true when the task requires a certain level of skill or expertise that the person doesn’t feel confident they possess. As a result, they may become overly anxious and procrastinate in order to avoid having to face their lack of ability or the potential for failure.
  3. Sleep Deprivation: Anxiety can also interfere with sleep which has been linked to poorer executive functioning, making it even more difficult for someone who already struggles with decision-making and prioritizing tasks. Sleep deprivation can lead to feelings of fatigue and difficulty concentrating, ultimately leading to procrastination as the person may not be able to focus on the task at hand.
  4. Lack of Concentration: Anxiety can interfere with focus and concentration, making it more difficult for someone to stay motivated and on task. The intrusive thoughts and worries associated with anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate on tasks for any extended period of time. This lack of concentration can lead to procrastination as tasks may become too overwhelming or tedious, making it difficult to focus and complete them in a timely manner.
  5. Avoidance: Finally, those who suffer from anxiety might use procrastination as an escape from their worries and anxieties by engaging in activities that offer them short-term distractions but don’t necessarily help in the long run when it comes to completing their tasks. Thus, these factors make it much more likely for those suffering from anxiety disorder to procrastinate more than those without an anxiety disorder.

15 Tips For Breaking The Cycle Of Procrastination And Anxiety

Procrastination and anxiety can be a dangerous cycle. Anxiety can make it difficult to focus and make decisions, leading to procrastination which in turn causes more anxiety. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can use to break this cycle and take back control of your life. Here are 15 tips that may help:

  1. Break Down Tasks Into Smaller Pieces: Breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks makes them seem less daunting and allows for easier tracking of progress. This way you can stay focused on one task at a time without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Setting realistic goals helps give structure to your day-to-day tasks and sets healthy expectations for yourself.
  3. Break tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks: Breaking tasks down into small, achievable steps can make it easier to focus on the task without feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Set realistic deadlines and expectations: Setting realistic timelines for yourself can help keep you motivated and on track without feeling like you are being overloaded with too much work.
  5. Get organized: Keeping track of tasks and commitments in an organized manner can help reduce anxiety-related procrastination as it gives structure and clarity to the task at hand.
  6. Prioritize tasks: Writing out a list of tasks that need to be done and categorizing them based on importance or urgency can help you stay focused on what is most important and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
  7. Shift focus to positive outcomes: Rather than focusing on the potential for failure or criticism, try to think of the positive outcomes you will experience when the task is completed. This can help shift your focus away from the fear that is often associated with anxiety and procrastination.
  8. Make time for self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and mentally can help reduce stress levels and make it easier to focus on tasks without getting overwhelmed or distracted by intrusive thoughts or worries.
  9. Get support: Whether it’s talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or support group, getting an outside perspective can be immensely helpful in overcoming procrastination due to anxiety.
  10. Identify triggers: Keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings surrounding tasks can help you identify what triggers your anxiety and procrastination, which can then be addressed in therapy or with the help of a trusted friend or family member.
  11. Set realistic goals: Create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals to keep yourself on track without feeling overwhelmed by an unrealistic timeline.
  12. Take breaks: Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help revitalize you and give you the energy needed to tackle tasks without feeling drained or discouraged.
  13. Give yourself credit: Don’t forget to acknowledge the progress you have made while working on a task; this will help keep motivation levels up and stress levels down.
  14. Take a deep breath: Deep breathing exercises can help calm nerves and reduce stress levels, allowing you to focus on the task at hand without getting overwhelmed.
  15. Find a creative outlet: Creative activities such as painting, drawing, or gardening can provide an outlet for anxiety-related worries and take your mind off of tasks without completely avoiding them altogether.
  16. Avoid perfectionism: Perfectionism is often associated with procrastination due to fear of failure; try to let go of perfectionist tendencies and instead focus on completing tasks in a timely manner rather than worrying about achieving perfect results.
  17. Ask for help: Asking for assistance from others when needed can take some of the pressure off and make it easier to stay on track with tasks.

Ultimately, breaking the cycle of procrastination and anxiety takes time and effort but can be done with the right tools and support. By identifying triggers, setting realistic goals, and taking care of yourself physically and mentally, you can overcome this common struggle and begin to enjoy life without feeling overwhelmed or anxious about your to-do list.

How To Stop Procrastinating: 3 Treatments For Chronic Procrastination

Chronic procrastination can have a devastating effect on your life, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unable to make progress toward achieving your goals. Fortunately, with the right tools and treatments, it is possible to break free of this counterproductive cycle and start taking steps toward accomplishing your goals. Here are three treatments for chronic procrastination to help get you started.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps you identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that can lead to procrastination. Through this therapy, you can learn how to break down tasks into manageable chunks, set realistic goals for yourself, and practice better self-discipline when it comes to completing tasks on time.
  2. Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI is a type of therapeutic approach that helps individuals overcome procrastination by helping them uncover their personal motivations for completing tasks and developing positive problem-solving strategies to help manage the task at hand.
  3. Stress Management Techniques: Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety levels, allowing you to stay focused and present with the task in front of you. Additionally, talking to a counselor or coach about your procrastinating tendencies can help identify any underlying contributing factors and provide guidance on how to proceed. 

By utilizing these treatments and learning how to better manage your stress levels, you can become more productive and get back on track with your goals. With the right tools and support, chronic procrastination can be overcome and replaced with a newfound sense of accomplishment.

Rewarding will keep you going

Bonus Tip: Rewards are key! It’s important to reward yourself when you complete tasks in order to keep motivation levels high. This can be anything from taking a short break after finishing a task, or treating yourself with something special when completing larger projects. These rewards provide an incentive that makes it easier to tackle even the toughest tasks without procrastinating. So don’t forget to give yourself some positive reinforcement for all your hard work!

Good luck! With the right approach and attitude, you will be able to stay on track with your goals and start


All in all, it seems that procrastination can be a sign of anxiety. It’s important to stay mindful and take proactive steps to identify the underlying cause of procrastination if you’re experiencing it because this can help us to find tools, or professional help, to overcome the issue.

Finding a balance between having too much on our plate and avoiding over-scheduling is also helpful; slowing down and taking a more realistic approach pays off in the long run. The bottom line – is don’t be afraid to get work done earlier. And if all else fails and you still feel overwhelmed, seek out the help of a mental health professional for individualized support.


Hutchison, T., Penney, A. M., & Crompton, J. E. (2018). Procrastination and anxiety: Exploring the contributions of multiple anxiety-related disorders. Current Issues in Personality Psychology, 6(2), 122–129.

Boyes, A., PhD. (2021, June 8). How to Recognize Anxiety-Induced Procrastination. Psychology Today.

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