The real reason you’re procrastinating
It’s not laziness
Hey there —
What have you been putting off recently?
🎥 Working on your next YouTube video?
📝 The essay your professor assigned last month (that’s now due in three days)?
🦷 Scheduling that dentist appointment?
☎️ Calling your mom?
When we think about why we procrastinate on tasks like these, it can be easy to make all sorts of negative assumptions. (After all, a tendency to procrastinate isn’t exactly viewed as a positive character trait.)
As our inner critic (or some not-so-helpful outside voices) chalk it up to laziness or being disorganized or inconsiderate, we argue that we just haven’t had the time or energy. And we promise we’ll get to it…later.
But according to psychologist Nick Wignall, the problem isn’t that we’re trying to avoid hard work or having to add yet another task to our busy calendar. The real root of our procrastination may be hidden anxiety. As Wignall explains:
“Procrastination isn’t just some passive symptom of an underlying problem. Often procrastination is an active defense mechanism we use to avoid something unpleasant — like anxiety.”
For those of us who struggle with procrastination, a more helpful question than "What's causing my procrastination?” Wignall says, is to ask “What job is it doing?”
And if that job is helping you avoid the sweaty, pit-in-your-stomach wave of dread you feel every time you think about that one thing on your to-do list — beware the consequences.
“If you’re using procrastination to avoid anxiety, you’re actually making that anxiety worse long-term because when your brain sees you chronically avoiding something it assumes that thing is dangerous.”
While procrastinating provides temporary relief by sweeping that anxiety-inducing task under the rug, once you’re inevitably forced to face it, you wind up feeling even more anxious because your brain is now convinced you should be running in the opposite direction. 💨
So if you want to deal with your anxiety in a healthy way — and stop procrastinating — the key is to (you guessed it) confront your anxiety, not avoid it.
Whether you’re worried about how people will respond to your video, getting poor grades and flunking out of college, feeling pain at the dentist, or your mother asking (again) if you’ve found a date for your cousin’s wedding…dig deeper into what it is about a specific task that’s making you feel so anxious.
Acknowledging those anxieties can help you view your tendency to procrastinate with more grace and less judgment and seek out more productive ways to manage your feelings of worry or fear.
Remember, feeling anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. And by confronting your procrastination-inducing anxieties instead of running from them, you’ll be better equipped to find solutions — and check off those overdue tasks. ✅
Break negative thinking with these 6 mental health exercises
by Laura Leavitt
Looking for some ways to combat anxiety? 💆
Thought exercises can help you be more mindful of your anxiety triggers, allowing you to make adjustments and break negative thinking patterns so you can find relief in overwhelming moments — and experience anxiety less often.
Check out this article for a guide on how to use these cognitive tools to reframe your thinking, practice self-compassion, and find calm.
What is Juneteenth, and why is it important?
by Karlos K. Hill and Soraya Field Fiorio
The Emancipation Proclamation declared all enslaved people in the Confederate States legally free on January 2, 1863. But it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — over two years later — that slaves in Galveston Bay, Texas learned of their freedom.
This beautiful animation explores the history of Juneteenth, how it became a U.S. federal holiday, and why it’s an important reminder of our past — and a call to build a better future. ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏿
by Nadia Odunayo and Rob Frelow
If you love reading, The StoryGraph could be your new favorite app.
Save books you want to read, mark what you’re currently reading, and don’t just make a list of what you’ve already read — The StoryGraph automatically compiles data like pages (or audiobook hours) read, genres, pace, and more.
Plus rate books to the quarter-star, mark books as DNF or owned, search for titles by mood, and even read with friends (you can add live reactions to specific parts of the book and those comments are locked until your friends reach that page).
In short: it’s a booknerd’s dream. 🤓
How do I quit streaming services (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc.)? Because it just seems no matter what I do, I continue to get pulled back to watch one more episode, show, or movie. So how do I stop the addiction?
— Trevor H., Omaha, NE
Quitting anything that’s become a habit — especially one that provides that hit of dopamine we crave so much — is hard. (Just ask Matt, who’s quit sugar, caffeine, social media, and most recently, his phone.) So first off, know you’re not alone in your struggle.
The good news is, while breaking a habit is difficult, it’s not impossible. To help, we can invert James Clear's Four Laws of Behavior Change (make your habit obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying). So instead of obvious, make your habit invisible. And then look for ways to make your habit unattractive, difficult, and/or unsatisfying.
For breaking a habit like non-stop video binging, that might look like this:
Invisible: Delete those streaming apps from your TV, tablet, and phone (no more “see app → click app” cue).
😣 Difficult: Sure, you can still access your streaming platforms via a web browser, but now the extra effort provides resistance — hopefully enough to make you stop and consider whether you really want to go down the Netflix rabbit hole right now.
😬 Unattractive: Use an app or internal setting (like Apple’s “Screen Time” function) to set time limits for streaming. Being forced to manually override this limit if you want to keep watching is a pretty unattractive option when you’re working to stay disciplined and accountable.
🤢 Unsatisfying: This one might be the hardest, but replacing your screen time with a healthier activity can help. We bet that reading a book, going for a walk, or hanging out with friends will feel way more satisfying in the long run than rewatching another episode of The Office.
If you still find the temptation to binge too great to resist, it may be time to cut ties altogether and cancel your paid streaming accounts. It doesn’t have to be forever — even a month or two without access can help you kick the habit. (And you’ll have the added bonus of saving a few dollars.)
Whatever you choose to do, we hope this helps you create a healthier balance. You got this! 💪
Got a question for the Slow Growth team? Click here to send it our way!
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella