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Procrastination and Anxiety

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Nnenna Ijomah last week of The Shorthorn, UTA's student newspaper. Below is an excerpt from her article about procrastination and anxiety. Read more here how anxiety in students can lead to under planning, as well as over-planning. Spoiler alert: emotionally beating the hell out of yourself for a bad habit doesn't help you change!


Procrastinated until 2 a.m. and that seven page paper is due at 9 a.m., huh? It’s okay, many college students have been there. It may not only be laziness that’s causing the stray from that blank white screen and blinking cursor. Procrastination is also a defense mechanism for people to manage their anxiety, licensed professional counselor Heather Ellett said. Of course, students put off things because the future may be scary.

“We let our fear basically push our responsibilities as far away as possible,” Ellett said.

Ellett said the inverse of this - overplanning - is also a way that people may manage anxiety.

“The more you can pretend to know what’s going to go on at every moment with overplanning, then you have more perceived control over the situation,” she said.

Ellett said time management is not an issue of intellect.

“We’re not dealing with an intellectual problem, we’re dealing with an emotional, self-sabotaging problem,” Ellett said.

Ellett said procrastination isn’t always rooted in fear but is also a habit and reflection of what a person values.

“It can also just be rooted in, the simplest of all things is, ‘I just don’t like what I’m having to do,’” she said.

Procrastination is a choice that one should own rather than judge, Ellett said. People don’t make lasting changes from a victim mentality. When a choice is made, own the consequences, good or bad.

“You know, ‘I am actively choosing to do this paper at the last minute because I chose to do x, y and z’ instead of ‘Oh, I’m such a victim to my lack of self-discipline, I’m never going to change,’” Ellett said.

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