When You Feel Overwhelmed and Unmotivated

At times it may seem necessary to put off doing things we categorize as unpleasant, difficult, painful, time consuming, or relatively unimportant. In many situations “holding off” on an activity can prove to be more beneficial than problematic. We may consciously decide to delay the execution of a task when we know more time will be available. In this type of circumstance, putting a responsibility “on hold” will yield better results.

Procrastination, on the other hand is consistently delaying responsibilities that should be completed. This is an automatic behavior that can govern how one lives, works, and interacts with people. While procrastination is often joked about, it is no laughing matter. Many have suffered unpleasant consequences in their relationships, school, and work. Often times, people find themselves overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed, and anxious if they are unsuccessful in changing their procrastination tendencies. People also may begin buying into labels that they are “lazy” and “unmotivated” which further encourages procrastination in other area of their lives.

There is hope for overcoming this daunting habit! Here are some deeper insights into the behavior of procrastination.

• Procrastination is rewarding. Unpleasant feelings associated with a task diminish if the task is avoided, bringing a rewarding sense of relief. Later, one may rush to complete their avoided task at the last minute and face criticism from others about their choice to avoid the task. These are negative consequences associated with putting a task off. We experience these negative consequences separately from the initial choice of delaying something. Since we tend to experience the immediacy of the reward from putting off that task as separate from the consequence, it is the reward that builds the habit.

• When someone occasionally puts off doing something, they weigh the pros and cons of doing so, and are cognizant of the justification of their choice. In contrast, when someone procrastinates, it tends to be done habitually. Many times procrastinating is used to avoid feelings associated with the task. Procrastination is automatic, like a habit, it is done without conscious reflection.

• Procrastination comes in many forms, a simple behavior with complex and diverse triggers.

A.) Criticism or Perfectionism- The fear one may face of being criticized by others if they don’t do something perfectly.
B.) Overwhelmed – The task is perceived as overwhelming, often because it’s unfamiliar.
C.) Fear or Pain – The task involves some form or fear of pain, perhaps physical, emotional, or psychological that the individual would rather not face.
D.) Resentment- When asked to do something, the individual may feel they can’t control the situation, for example putting off filing taxes. The act of putting the item off is how one exerts control.

Do you want to break this habit? Here are some questions and suggestions that may help.

What are the feelings I have associated with the task? Keeping a procrastination log can be an effective tool that can help you be aware of the start of the procrastination cycle. Write down the feelings related to tasks that you have a tendency to avoid.

What is the immediate pay off for procrastinating? Record in the journal your initial feelings. Did doing something else make you feel more empowered or less anxious?

What did I do in place of the unpleasant task? This activity is often a reward in and of itself.

What are the long-term consequences of putting a task off? Log the after-effects of avoiding a responsibility. This helps to better tie the negative consequences to the habit.

With many habits that you seek to change, having someone to support you in this endeavor can be incredibly beneficial. This person may be a friend, family member, co-worker, significant other, therapist or life coach. This individual should provide support without labeling or criticizing you as you work through understanding and changing your habits. Having an individual to help you through can speed the process along and helps you build back your self-esteem and confidence.

Additional Reading:

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Making the Most of Our Life Transitions

Worry, Worry

Stress and Anxiety Disorders

FVI July/August Newsletter

Why Do We Procrastinate?

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
The Earl of Chesterfield
December 26, 1749

Almost everyone has been afflicted by procrastination at one time or another – that nagging menace that compels us to put things off for another day, another time. For some people this is a persistent problem, and for others it appears in only some areas of their lives. The result, though, is the same for everyone – increased anxiety, wasted time, poor performance, missed opportunities, guilt, excusing ourselves, and avoiding people who depend on us. There are better ways of dealing with the demands of our everyday lives. Procrastination is not a trivial problem – it causes suffering for many people.

Who is likely to procrastinate? There is no research evidence that gender and intelligence have anything to do with a tendency to procrastinate. Age may have something to do with it. One research study finds that procrastination peaks in the middle to late twenties, decreases for the next forty years, and then increases again in the sixties. Other research finds that people who feel overwhelmed and cannot readily calm down tend to put things off.

READ THE REMAINDER OF THIS NEWSLETTER HERE

Announcing Dr. Laura Bokar’s Election to the Loaves and Fishes Community Services Board of Directors

(Naperville, IL – August 1, 2017) Loaves and Fishes Community Services 2017 welcomes Dr. Laura Bokar, CEO of Fox Valley Institute for Growth and Wellness to serve her first term on the Board of Directors.

Dr. Laura Bokar is pleased to bring to Loaves and Fishes Community Services her passion, energy and commitment to helping people grow in their lives and relationships. She will offer her guidance to assist Loaves and Fishes Community Services in their mission to end hunger and empower the lives of those in need in our community. Together the Board will effectively evaluate the achievability of these objectives as well as market the organization.

Read Full Press Release Here