By Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW

I am a world class Procrastinator. I am not proud! I am aware of it and keep working to figure out how to change that difficult habit and why I procrastinate. Ever hear yourself say “I will get that done….later”…or “Next week I will get started on that project”….or “I have so much to do I will never get it done”…and you don’t!? You may have a case of “Procrastination Desperation” too! Not an official diagnosis but a real problem!

Why would we engage in a habit that is self-destructive? Procrastination can damage us personally, academically, and professionally. Let’s look at what might be happening in the minds of us procrastinators.

First, let’s look at WHAT we are procrastinating? Often it is a job or task that does not appeal to us. Writing a school paper, cleaning our room, organizing papers at your desk (guilty as charged). It is human nature to avoid people, places and things that are unappealing. Makes sense but isn’t always helpful. Some tasks seem overwhelming or too difficult or just plain unenticing.

Next, let’s look at some reasons WHY we are procrastinating. This may sound surprising, but sometimes we avoid starting or completing a task because we want it to be done perfectly! This is called “perfectionism”…”if it isn’t done perfectly, why do it at all?” Perfect outcomes only exist in our own minds…often the imperfection of something leads us to learning something new. Success does not always result in being perfect. In fact, I don’t believe anything-person, place or thing can achieve true perfection…because perfection is something we create in our own minds. It’s important to note that perfectionism (striving for high quality) does not always result in procrastination, it is just one common factor for us who live with “Procrastination Desperation”!

Also, the fear of failure or negative feedback can be very intimidating and lead us to procrastinate. “Why get started if (they) will say it’s not great?” When working on a task we might get concerned about what others might say, often these concerns are irrational or over exaggerated. We can be our own worst critics.

Self-sabotaging behavior is important to talk about. Setting your expectations to a degree that successful outcomes can’t be reached. The fear of failure or negative feedback that we think we might experience makes the task truly feel unachievable….so we don’t do it or we procrastinate.

Other factors in “Procrastination Desperation” can be the symptoms of ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, or other Mental Health issues. Procrastination, lack of motivation or self-sabotaging thoughts are important to discuss with a trusted adult or mental health provider.

A few tips on combating “Procrastination Desperation”:

  1. Set a goal. Creating a SMART goal can be very helpful. You will find many resources on the internet for SMART goals.
  2. Get help! Ask a trusted friend or adult to help you figure out what is keeping you from achieving your goal(s)…most likely there is a skill to learn or an emotional block to uncover.
  3. Keep at it. Changing a habit, learning a skill, and doing something different can be challenging….but you can do it! If you have a clear idea of the challenge, a solution will be more likely to happen as you focus on how to achieve that solution.

Knowing yourself and moving through a Mental Health challenge can lead to personal growth and more happiness, but you need to take that first step. Seek out the support of a professional mental health provider, talk to a friend or your family. You got this, Girl!


Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW is an Arizona based mental health provider and educator and the owner of The Counseling Consultants, PLLC, a group practice serving kids and adults with a variety of Mental Health Wellness needs. She is passionate about assisting youth to learn life skills, gain insights and thrive