4 signs procrastination is holding you back — and what to do about it

You don’t need to be a time management guru to know that procrastination can seriously sabotage your productivity. The longer you put things off, the longer it takes to get them done — the longer you let your to-do list pile up, the more you have on your plate and the less you accomplish. It’s a vicious cycle!

But, it’s not just your work output that a procrastination habit can affect — it can also seep into other areas of your life, including your mental health, your relationships and your progress towards your long-term goals.

So, if you feel like you’re not living your best life or fulfilling your potential, check out the 4 signs procrastination might be the culprit. Plus, keep reading for a simple, 5-step method that can help you beat the habit, once and for all!

1. You feel stressed and overwhelmed

The thing about many procrastinators is that they often *know* they’ll be able to get that important tasks done at the very last minute, because they’ve done it before.

But, it’s important to think about what that’s costing you in terms of your mental wellbeing. Because, that adrenaline rush might be helpful for allowing you to smash out that important work project at the 11th hour. But, all that unnecessary stress ain’t exactly great for your physical or mental health — especially if you’re doing it often.

Plus, when you’re leaving such a tight window to get things done, it only takes one thing to go wrong — your cat gets sick, your laptop won’t start up, you get thrown an urgent, last-minute project — for your plans to get completely derailed and you miss the deadline. At which point, you become even more stressed and overwhelmed. Not fun!

2. You get project FOMO

Ever get that pang in your stomach that’s kind of like a mix of disappointment and yearning? You. might get it when you see someone else has launched that idea you had a year ago, or has achieved one of your biggest goals?

It’s kind of similar to that feeling of when all your friends were at a fun party and you’re regretting your decision to stay home in your PJs and binge-watch Friends re-runs (well, back when any of us were allowed to leave the house!) Yep, I call this project FOMO, and it’s a major symptom of procrastination.

At the end of the day, we’re all on our own path and we’re not in competition with anyone else. But, the fact of the matter is, if you’re too paralyzed by perfectionism, or overwhelm or fear to get started you are always going to be two steps behind where you want to be. The sooner you start taking small-but-consistent steps towards your goals, the sooner you’re going to be able to look back and think “hell yeah, I did that!”

3. You can never *actually* enjoy your downtime

Procrastination is not only the thief of time — it can also be the thief of joy! They say that time enjoyed wasting isn’t time wasted, and that’s 100% true.  But, here’s the thing. When you’re always putting things off to go do something you deem more fun (even if that’s just scrolling aimlessly through Instagram!) it can be hard to actually even enjoy that task. Because, you’re plagued with guilt and preoccupied with what you feel like you *should* be doing, it’s hard to stay present in the moment. But when you suck it up and just get done what you want to, it allows you to do what you actually want to without feeling a kernel of guilt about it!

4. You don’t feel proud of the work you’re doing

When you’re always leaving things to the very last minute, it usually makes your work more rushed than the ‘Pressure Cooker challenges’ in Masterchef. Often, this results in you not putting your best work out into the world — compared to if you gave yourself the space to go back and tweak and make it even better.

But, this can also work the opposite way! If you’re a procrastinator who’s also a perfectionist (a perfectionator, as I like to call it!) you’re likely always waiting until something is ‘perfect’ until you put it out there. But, the thing is, ‘perfect’ never arrives, so you end up launching — well, nothing at all! In either scenario, you never get to experience the sheer joy of getting a project you’re really proud of out into the world. And that’s a damn shame!

If you identified with any of these, a procrastination habit is likely holding you back from achieving the greatness you were designed for. The good news is, just like any habit, you can unlearn it, and replace it with different, more positive habits. But, it’s tough to do it alone — you need a mix of mindset work, accountability, work strategies and productivity tools to really kick procrastination to the curb for good!

This article first appeared on A Girl In Progress.