Does Procrastination Affect Negative Thoughts?

  • Time to read: 5 min.

Procrastination is when we put a task off that we know we have to do. It usually is when something seems tedious, complicated, or time-consuming that we tend to procrastinate.

The fun stuff doesn’t usually take too much motivation and sometimes we even put off the fun leisure activites that enrich our lives. However, everyone knows the feeling of having responsibilities they don’t want to even look at.

Delaying may feel good in the moment but can make you feel worse over time because simply procrastinating hasn’t made the job go away. The tasks that need to be completed sits there at the back of your mind until it gets done.

Pros And Cons Of Procrastination

There are both pros and cons to procrastination. On the one hand, it can be seen as a form of self-care, giving yourself time to relax and de-stress. It can also help you to focus on more important tasks, by eliminating distractions. On the other hand, procrastination can lead to missed deadlines, lower grades, and increased stress levels. It is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to procrastinate.

Pros Of ProcrastinationCons Of Procrastination
You get to have fun now.You don’t feel better (it is still at the back of your mind)
Sometimes you do need a break to relax before starting a big task Makes you more anxious
Someone else might complete the task so you don’t need toTask still needs to be done, no matter how long it gets put off
It can be part of depression or lead to feelings of depression
Task becomes larger than life, making it feel more significant than it is
Waiting for motivation doesn’t often work
Task can snowball into bigger challenges if you put off the small tasks
Pros & Cons Of Procrastination

Effect Of Procrastination On Depression

Two of the main signs of depression are feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, leading the person to struggle to complete even simple tasks. Procrastination is often present when someone is suffering from depression.

Helplessness and hopelessness contribute to procrastination as even small tasks feel difficult and get put off for another time. A cycle then begins and has a snowball effect on the depression as the more that gets put off, the more overwhelming life can feel.

It feels like there is even more to do, so you start to wonder where to even begin. A lack of motivation to do tasks, and a mounting list of things to do from procrastination, can also impact the person from seeking help. It can all feel like too much, and the tendency to procrastinate can then include putting off going to appointments as well.

Effect Of Procrastination On Anxiety

Some studies have shown a link between procrastination and anxiety. The unfinished tasks and responsibilities put aside for another day can lead to feelings of anxiety and dread. Fear and dread can also lead to irregular sleep because of the anxious thoughts waking you when you think of the tasks that require your attention.

However, not all people who have anxiety will procrastinate.

For some, anxiety will have them complete tasks very dutifully as they worry about the outcomes if they don’t. So, procrastination can make anxiety worse, but not all that have anxiety will necessarily procrastinate.

Procrastination might also be from feeling a need to be perfect or worrying about failing in some way, so you may procrastinate instead of doing what is needed. Perfection or fear of failure could be a big part of your anxiety. Procrastination would make the anxiety worse as you have unfulfilled responsibilities and are putting unfair pressure on yourself to be perfect.

How Procrastination Changes Your Thoughts And Feelings

Procrastination can make you feel low, depressed, and anxious.

Everyone will procrastinate from time to time, in small ways that do not significantly affect their lives— something like deciding to take the rubbish out tomorrow because you are too tired tonight. However, when procrastination leads to more significant life challenges, it can affect how you feel.

Things such as not paying bills, failing a test because you didn’t study or putting off health checks when something is of concern can quickly lead to more significant issues that contribute to you feeling fearful, worried, and anxious.

An interesting notion from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is that action promotes motivation. We often think we will wait until we are motivated to take action; however, it rarely works. What happens when the inspiration never arrives to do a task?

Does procrastination affect negative thoughts? Well, yes. When we are procrastinating, our thoughts can be quite damaging, such as I can’t do this or this is going to be difficult. We might even go further and think that we are failures or get caught up in anxious thoughts, trying to predict the future in a very negative light.

Once we take action, those thoughts can change to something more realistic, such as, I can do it if I take some small measure. When you have started, it can even feel good and that you choose the right time to complete the task. Even when we don’t want to, if we begin an action, we are more likely to improve our mood and start to feel motivated.

Certain Personality Traits Are More Likely to Procrastinate

There are personality traits linked to people who are more likely to procrastinate.

Other than having depression or anxiety, some people may be more of the type of person to procrastinate regularly. One of the main traits is low conscientiousness. The personality trait of conscientiousness would mean being somewhat impulsive, careless, disorganized and lacking self-discipline.

Another trait linked to procrastination is the element of fantasy. So if you are an open-minded individual who enjoys getting lost in daydreams, then you might procrastinate more often.

Procrastination is linked to negative thoughts. When we are putting something off, there is a reason and a thought chain behind the decision to put our responsibility aside. However, when we take some action, our thoughts can shift to a more positive and realistic perspective rather than using avoidance. Leisure activites can be therapeutic in helping with anxiety, depression and procrastination and help shape your personality.

Final Thoughts

Review your thoughts to determine if and why you are procrastinating, then take one step towards completing the task.

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