Force Yourself To Do Things By Learning How Anxiety About Tasks Works

Force Yourself To Do Things By Learning How Anxiety About Tasks Works

Everyone struggles with procrastination now and then, sometimes because the stress about starting a task keeps us from acting. David Cain points out at Raptitude, however, that the moment you start acting is the beginning of the end of that anxiety.

The chart above is basically an explanation of the lifecycle for any task or thing you have to do. Anxiety increases from the moment you have something on your to-do list and peaks until you actually start doing it.

As you can see, the problem starts when you know what you need to do, but balk on doing it. It grows in that space between the knowing and the doing. The anxiety, shame, and fear associated with the task rise as long as you live in that space.

Nothing else happens in this phase, except for your own suffering and ageing. We can call it the Unproductive Phase. The longer this phase goes on, the more anxiety it generates and the harder the task itself appears to be.

At some point, often spurred by a crisis of some kind, you start to actually do the thing you’re supposed to do. It is here where the anxiety usually spikes — you are entering the Productive Phase, where failure, embarrassment, and the discovery of your own incompetence go from being future-dwelling spectres to real-time dangers. That’s why procrastinators avoid ever getting to this part.

That stressful period when starting on a task, however, doesn’t last long. You realise that whatever the task was you were putting off is just one finite, doable thing.

For serious procrastinators, a longer unproductive phase just increases the anxiety and leads to a paralysing crisis point.

Force Yourself To Do Things By Learning How Anxiety About Tasks Works

In other words, just do it. The only way to beat the anxiety or fear is to get started.

Check out the post on Raptitude below. It might sound simple, but the insights could help you stop procrastinating once and for all.

How to Get Yourself to Do Things [Raptitude via]


  • I am literally procrastinating from starting an assignment due tonight…by reading (and commenting on) an article about procrastinating. Oh the irony.

  • I have this problem, to the point of almost having an anxiety attack while trying to force myself to work. Yet once I start it’s always fine. I don’t really understand it, and usually I can overcome it, yet there are times when it’s just too hard. What do I do in those situations? Let me know when you figure it out.

  • Very often it’s uncertainty about exactly what to do in the task, what the steps are and how to turn those steps into meaningful progress (something you can point to) that causes problems.

    You could also be out of practice with a task that you haven’t done in a long time, such as research assignments, essays or reports.

    A how-to for assignments would be helpful at this point….

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