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Procrastination Reasons for Putting Off Tasks

By Debra Rodzinak

Do you know someone, or are someone, who puts off simple tasks like calling the doctor, doing taxes, or shopping for groceries?  If you are putting off something that needs to be done, you are a procrastinator. 

Everyone puts off unpleasant tasks from time to time, but if you are constantly struggling to finish simple tasks or complete projects, there may be a bigger problem present.  I had a friend who called himself an “obsessive compulsive procrastinator.”  He worried endlessly about all of the things he had to do, but he never acted on it.  There are some reasons you or your loved one may be procrastinating, even to the determent of the procrastinator. 


When faced with a task you don’t particularly care to do, tension can build up the longer the task remains uncompleted.  If the tension builds up enough, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Trouble focusing or sleeping
  • Thoughts that race
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy


Adults who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have thoughts that race and they become easily distracted by other activities.  Some get frustrated easily or find it difficult to make plans in the future.  Some common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Tendency to daydream
  • Acting in an unsafe manner
  • Inability to sit still without moving

Lack of Sleep

For those who suffer with insomnia or get less than 6 hours of sleep per night, the brain is working harder to function and has a hard time tuning out distractions and focusing.  Some telltale signs that you need more sleep include:

  • Irritability
  • Catching up on sleep on off days
  • Easily falling asleep while sitting or watching TV
  • Difficulty waking up


Anxiety is a common stressor when the brain becomes hypersensitive to normal occurrences and develops negative emotions.  Worrying takes energy and people who suffer from anxiety feel emotionally drained.  The body reacts negatively to constant anxiety by:

  • Developing tension in the muscles
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Having trouble either going to sleep or staying asleep
  • Irritability


Science has proven that depression alters the brain’s chemistry.  Feelings of helplessness or being overly self-critical are some of the conditions of depression.  Other symptoms include:

  • Sad feelings that don’t go away
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of death or dying

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

This brain disorder leaves the sufferer with a nagging feeling that the actions they complete are never correct.  Rather than finishing a task and moving on, they have to repeat the task until a “perfect” solution is found.  Some other symptoms include:

  • Negative or unwanted thoughts
  • Inability to stop thoughts
  • Rituals like checking a locked door or washing hands
  • Spending more than an hour per day on obsessive thoughts or rituals

The good news is that there is help for any of the above symptoms.  Check with your health care provider for more information.


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