Here are 5 tips for people with OCD who want to stop procrastinating

Hey there!

Let’s chat about something pretty common, yet often misunderstood – procrastination, particularly in the context of OCD. Now, procrastination is something we all do from time to time, right? But for folks with OCD, it’s a bit of a different story.

So, picture this: You’ve got OCD, and your mind is often caught up in a whirlwind of obsessive thoughts and compulsions. Now, add a task that you need to do – it could be anything, like a work assignment, cleaning the house, or even making a decision. What happens next is a bit like a mental tug-of-war.

On one side, there’s the task at hand, something you know you need to get done. But on the other side, there are these OCD thoughts and rituals that feel super urgent and important. It’s like your brain is telling you, “Hey, we need to deal with these obsessions first before we can do anything else!” And that, my friend, is where procrastination sneaks in.

But here’s the tricky part. With OCD, procrastination isn’t just about laziness or poor time management. It’s more about being trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Let’s say you need to write a report, but your OCD makes you obsess over whether you’ll do it perfectly. You might check and recheck your work, or even avoid starting it altogether because the anxiety and pressure feel too overwhelming.

This kind of procrastination can be really frustrating. It’s like you’re constantly getting sidetracked by your OCD, which makes it hard to focus on the task at hand. And the more you procrastinate, the more anxious and guilty you might feel, which just feeds back into the OCD cycle.

But here’s the good news – there are ways to tackle this. In therapy, we work on strategies to break this cycle. It involves understanding how OCD plays into procrastination and learning techniques to manage those obsessive thoughts. The idea is to create a kind of mental buffer zone, where you can acknowledge the OCD thoughts without letting them take over. It’s about learning to prioritize tasks and finding ways to gently push past the OCD barriers.

So, if you find yourself procrastinating because of OCD, remember, it’s not just a simple case of putting things off. It’s a complex interplay of thoughts and behaviors. But with the right strategies and a bit of patience, it’s definitely something you can overcome.

Procrastination is a common issue that affects many people, regardless of their background or personality. It refers to the tendency to delay or postpone tasks, even when they are important or have a deadline. When left unchecked, procrastination can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and guilt, and can negatively impact personal and professional life.

Procrastination and OCD

For individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), procrastination can be a particularly challenging issue. OCD is a mental health condition that involves intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors that interfere with daily life.

People with OCD may struggle with procrastination as a result of their intrusive thoughts, which can lead to excessive checking, perfectionism, and indecision. These behaviors can make it difficult for individuals with OCD to complete tasks, leading to further stress and anxiety.

Barbara’s story

I used to struggle with getting things done because of my OCD. My thoughts would get so consumed with intrusive and repetitive thoughts, that it was difficult for me to focus on anything else. I would spend hours checking and re-checking things, which left me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

I found myself putting off tasks, including important responsibilities like studying for my exams. I was afraid that if I didn’t complete everything to my high standards, I would face severe consequences.

This fear and anxiety made it difficult for me to get started on anything, and I often found myself procrastinating. As a result, I missed multiple deadlines and even failed to complete my bar exams.

Barbara, coping with OCD

Why do I procrastinate?

Procrastination occurs for a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  1. Fear of failure: People may avoid starting a task because they are afraid of not being able to complete it to their own high standards, or of making mistakes.
  2. Lack of motivation: People may lack the drive or inspiration to start a task, or may find it uninteresting or boring.
  3. Perfectionism: People who have high standards may struggle to start a task because they are worried that they will not be able to complete it perfectly.
  4. Distraction: People may be easily sidetracked by other things, such as social media, emails, or phone notifications.
  5. Overwhelming tasks: People may feel overwhelmed by the size or complexity of a task and may avoid starting it as a result.
  6. Emotional state: People may avoid tasks when they are feeling anxious, stressed, or low.

Procrastination can be influenced by a range of internal and external factors. Understanding why you procrastinate can be the first step in overcoming the issue and making positive changes in your life.

5 Tips

  1. Reframe negative thoughts: Often, people with OCD tend to focus on negative thoughts, which can lead to procrastination. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself, “Is this thought helpful or harmful?” If it’s harmful, try to reframe it in a more positive light.
  2. Prioritize tasks: Make a list of your most important tasks and prioritize them based on their level of urgency. This will help you focus on what needs to be done and avoid getting bogged down by the overwhelming number of tasks.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness helps to reduce anxiety and stress, which are two factors that can contribute to procrastination. Set aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing, or try a guided meditation app.
  4. Use visualization: Visualize yourself successfully completing a task. This can help you feel more confident and motivated, and can also help you overcome any negative thoughts you might have about the task.
  5. Reward yourself: Set small goals for yourself and reward yourself when you achieve them. This will help you feel motivated and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can help you overcome the urge to procrastinate.