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Avoidance procrastination

Part I:  Description

Avoidance Procrastination: When Negative Emotions Sabotage Your Goals

Avoidance procrastination is a sneaky form of procrastination where you delay tasks because they trigger unpleasant emotions like:

  • Boredom: The task feels dull and uninspiring.

  • Anxiety or Fear: You worry about being overwhelmed or failing, so you put it off.

  • Even Fear of Success: Subconsciously, you may fear the changes success could bring.

Spotting Avoidance Procrastination

  • It's About the Feels: You focus more on avoiding unpleasant emotions than on the task itself.

  • Even Small Things Trigger It: Tasks others find easy can be paralyzing if they're tied to those negative emotions.

  • Distraction is Your Go-To: Seeking immediate pleasure becomes more important than facing the task.

  • Guilt Follows: While procrastinating, you may feel even worse for not taking action.

How to Beat Avoidance Procrastination

  • Know Your Triggers: What emotions drive your procrastination? Identifying them is key.

  • Challenge Those Negative Thoughts: Are your fears realistic? Reframe them.

  • Baby Steps: Break down big projects into less intimidating pieces.

  • Start Anywhere: Taking even a tiny action builds momentum and lessens the dread.

  • Self-Compassion is Key: Progress isn't always linear. Be kind to yourself.

  • Get Support: Therapists can teach you strategies to manage emotions and procrastinate less.

Part II:  Common Questions

How is avoidance procrastination different from regular procrastination?

  • Core distinction:

    • Regular Procrastination: Often stems from factors like task difficulty, disorganization, or poor time management.

    • Avoidance Procrastination: Driven primarily by fear, anxiety, or discomfort related to the task itself. This often leads to deeper guilt and shame.

What causes avoidance procrastination?

  • There can be various underlying reasons:

    • Fear of Failure: The task feels overwhelming, so putting it off avoids the potential pain of not doing well.

    • Perfectionism: Paralysis due to impossibly high standards, leading them to not even start.

    • Negative Self-Talk: "I'm not good enough," makes the task feel insurmountable.

    • Past Experiences: Negative past experiences with a similar task can fuel avoidance of the present one.

    • Mental Health: Avoidance can be a symptom of anxiety disorders or depression.

How do I break free from avoidance procrastination?

  • It's challenging, but here's where to start:

    • Identify the Emotion: What are you REALLY avoiding? The task, or the feeling the task brings up?

    • Tiny Steps: Break the task into the smallest possible first action, so laughably tiny you can't say no.

    • Timeboxing: Commit to 5 minutes of work, no more, to reduce the initial resistance.

    • Self-Compassion: Talk to yourself as you would a struggling friend. Harshness makes it worse.

    • Professional Help: If significantly impacting your life, therapy can address underlying causes and build skills.

Part III:  Additional Resources


  • Psychology Today: Procrastination Features articles on different types of procrastination, including avoidance.

  • James Clear: Procrastination Offers practical articles and insights with a focus on overcoming procrastination caused by negative emotions.

  • Tim Pychyl: Procrastination Research Group, Carleton University: A leading procrastination researcher with insights on the psychology behind avoidance.


  • "Why Procrastinators Procrastinate" (Wait But Why): A popular long-form article that explores procrastination in an engaging way, including the avoidance aspects.

  • "4 Strategies For Overcoming Avoidance Procrastination" (Forbes): Provides actionable tips for combatting this specific type of procrastination.


  • "Solving the Procrastination Puzzle" by Timothy Pychyl: Delves into the psychology of procrastination, including a focus on avoidance procrastination.

  • "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore: Offers strategies to overcome procrastination rooted in fear or anxiety.

  • "Getting Things Done" by David Allen: While not exclusively on the topic, the productivity system addresses breaking down tasks, which can help with avoidance.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

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