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Procrastination And Panic

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I always find myself procrastinating when I have to complete a task that makes me anxious. Currently, I am in graduate school and all of my classes are online. I feel this only makes my sense of isolation worse in some ways. Not only am I bad with scheduling myself, but I feel very anxious when I have to complete assignments without the ability of receving feedback from others in the class or the professor. I know I can email, but I am too afraid to admit what I don't understand or am unsure about. Also, when I begin to work on a new assignment, I get physically ill: my stomach goes into knots, my mind races (thus making it impossible to focus!) and I feel tired and like I want to escape by doign something that feels less dangerous. I am so afraid of messing up or embaressing myself that I wait until the last minute so that I don't have to option to over-analyze myself or constantly start over (which I am apt to do, in an attempt to do it perfectly). I guess it is my perfectionism at its worst. And no matter how many A's I get, I still feel ike I have the potential to fail the next assignment. My confidence in myself is totally shot, and it always feels like a miracle when I do do something the right way.

Right now in fact I should be working on an assignment that is due tonight. I have had it in the back of my mind for days (at least two weeks) and it has affected my nerves. Still, I have only maanged to complete a small amount of the assignment and I fear I will not get it done in time to post it online tonight. I know I shouldn't put myself in this position, but I always do. When I try to force myself to work on it, I feel panicky and have trouble concentrating and I tell myself that I always do better working under pressure at the last minute anyway. How do I break these destructive habits? How do I either stop myself from constant worrying and make peace with my procrastination, or force myself to not procratinate and work throught he pain of starting earlier? How do you all deal with these issues? Any and all advice is desperately wanted, welcome, and appreciated.

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Hi evalynn,

You can learn some ways to combat those thoughts that lead to your anxiousness. Principles from therapies like CBT can help you manage those thoughts leading to panic attacks. We have more information in Psych Ed 101.

Being a perfectionist will definitely trigger the attacks so you need to deal with your fears of failure. Procrastinating can be an indicator there are some psychological problems for which you may need some form of treatment.

I think its important to work on pacing yourself out by making some short-term goals with respect to your assignments. I know initially you feel anxious about getting started but set some goals so that you aren't forced to cram everything into the last few hours.

Buy a notebook and write down things you need to do, make a schedule and work on them daily. It will help ease the stress of having so many things to do.

I wish you the best.


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Hi and welcome,

I, too, am a terrible procrastinator. I panick at the thought of even the smallest tasks sometimes. Right now I have to call my doctor for a refill of my meds but I'm putting it off for the stupidest reason, because I know I will get a voicemail and they will call back and the phone ringing (or even vibrating) makes me jump). Yep, I'm that pathetic.

All I can say is to try and tackle one small task. I'm a single mom of an 11-year-old boy and HAVE to get up and function every day even though some days it's a real challenge. I feel like I'm missing out on the best part of being a mom, my son's childhood, because of this depression and panick disorder and just do my best to get through one step at a time. I can relate to trying to do online challenges as when I went to school a few years ago, one of my classes was online and I eventually had to transfer to the school because I didn't have the self discipline to do it myself from home. Ironically I became a medical transcriptionist who worked from home for 4 years before getting Legionnaire's that damaged my short term memory and other neurological problems and was forced to quit because I couldn't concentrate anymore. I've dealt with the panick and PTSD (I was in a coma for 5 days and can't sleep at night for fear of slipping back to the coma place).

I hope you find the strength to tackle what you have to do. Reward yourself for each small task accomplished. Right now, I'm going to try and get off this computer and call my doc!

Good luck to you!

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Hi there. Procrastination. It is the result of a fear of failure, which is exactly what you are describing. It frequently comes from perfectionism, which you are also describing. Listen, you will never get things perfect. So don't try, it will only wear you out.

I'm a big-time procrastinator. I work on a website and I go back and re-write articles repeatedly. I never feel like they are "good enough." It's never going to be perfect.

You may want to consider a traditional school if you are having problems doing the online thing. I got an online degree. It taught me a lot. But it's not for everyone. Some people need a lot of structure. You may be one of these people.

Make a schedule. If your phone doesn't have a calendar on it, then buy a regular calendar and create a to do list. I recommend the Franklin Covey Planner. It is great for making plans. It helps you stay on track. I used it when I was in school and it helped a lot. It helps you, not only keep your schedule, but to prioritize it. It's a system that works quite well.

Don't sacrifice your time with your son. I understand that the anxiety, etc. is causing you to miss out on his childhood. But take a step back for a minute. If you are having so many problems that you are missing out on your son's life, then you need to see your doctor. There are medications to help you with this. If you're already on medications, tell him they aren't working and ask him to give you different meds. Also, try counseling. Many problems can be worked through with counseling. Often it is as important as medicine. A therapist will help you learn to organize your life.

Stay focused. Get the help you need from your doctor and/or therapist. Do your best on your school assignments, and then forget about them. All you can do is your best. Again, if you can't deal with school like you're having problems being involved in your son's life, then you need to seek outside help.

I hope you get the help you need. Keep smiling and I wish you the best.

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