Compulsive Procrastination

Obsession and procrastination make odd bedfellows.

By Kevin RR Williams

BEHAVIOR How many apps have you tried using to organize your life? With any of them, look at your to-do list. Are there things that are obviously more important than what are doing right now? Sometimes a diversion clears your mind to tackle mentally challenging tasks but when there is a significant difference in importance, perhaps obsessions are hindering productivity.

Obsessions are more than passing thoughts or temporary involvement in idleness. They are lingering preoccupation with relatively mundane or inappropriate thoughts. The obsessions can become so debilitating that work, household responsibilities or personal relationships suffer. Inwardly focused obsessions cause ones to retreat from social activities. Outwardly focused obsessions can become verbal criticisms of others with the same effect of social ostracization. Chronic obsessions can become distressing and lead to more serious compulsions.

Obsessions Are Not Synonymous With Compulsions

Compulsions are behaviors that one feels compelled to do over and over again in a futile effort to relieve anxiety. Compulsions are often related to obsessions. Common compulsions include cleaning, counting, checking, requesting or demanding reassurance and ensuring order and symmetry. The rationalization that, 'If I can just get this task done [organized, completed, etc.], I can move on to more important things," seems never fulfilled. You may tell others that you can't participate in a certain activity because you have so much to do, only to find yourself piddling the morning away.

Perhaps you stay up very late at night to get something out of the way, only to return to the same task the next morning, working into the night again. Compulsions can also be acted out through excessive recreation, eating, social media, fitness, television viewing, chemical dependency, sleeping, fantasizing or ruminating over negative thoughts (fear, guilt, anger, envy, suspicion, apprehension, inadequacy). These things seem divergent; some may even have beneficial characteristics. Each habit can become a concern when it prevents you from being productive.

People with hypochondria have obsession-like concerns that primarily relate to their health. Often there is an excessive fear of developing a serious medical condition, such as cancer — a disease that can't be relieved with vitamins, by the way. Hypochondria is often mistaken for OCD; however, each illness has a number of unique features, which healthcare providers can use to tell these two disorders apart.

As possible remedies, get proper nutrition, rest and exercise. Sometimes a change of scenery breaks the cycle of procrastination. If the task is portable, take it to a public library, a park or even to a nearby coffee shop. Beyond that, get professional help. This can come in many forms, such as a life coach, work assistant, masseuse, minister or psychotherapist. The point is to recognize when a pit is only getting deeper and then take positive steps to extricate yourself from the negative descent and feel A Bit More Healthy.

Tags: anxiety, counseling, depression, mental health, psychotherapy, psychiatry

  1. Obsessions Are More Than Everyday Worries.