Productivity Tips from an Anxious Procrastinator

By
Nabiha Azad
Published on
September 15, 2022

“Just don’t procrastinate”, is a lot easier said than done, especially if you have anxiety. Study tips that may help our non-anxious peers often fall flat.

Before we delve into study tips for anxiety-ridden  procrastinators, let's go over some things to keep in mind.

Anxiety cannot be cured.

  • There is no way to erase your anxiety from the picture HOWEVER you can use techniques or natural anxiety remedies to make anxiety more manageable.

Productivity” looks different for everyone.

  • We’ve all seen those TikToks and YouTubevideos of people having aesthetic 5 am-8 pm workdays where they workout, study, party, and relax all in the same day. That could work for them but remember that it may not work for a lot of people.

Some things work, other things don’t.

  • There is no equation for productivity or success, sometimes you just have to feel things out and it may be a long time until you find something that truly works.

While keeping that in mind, let’s go over the science behind studying with techniques catered towards anxious people.

Anxious sweet spot

The Yerkes-Dodson Law, contrary to the name, is more of a concept than a law. It is the relationship between stress and performance (Pietrangelo, Ann). The idea is that certain tasks require a certain amount of stress to be performed at an optimal rate.

For example, high concentration tasks require a much lower amount of stress and higher motivation while mundane tasks  can require a different amount.

(Healthline)

There are  a lot of factors for this law which includes but isn’t limited to

  • Learning style
  • Personality
  • Timeline

Remember that Anxiety management techniques can only get you so far. Sometimes to be at the “sweet spot” of stress to do work it takes time and/or luck.

Understanding your Body

All Nighters

When in a pinch, a common solution for students is reaching for an energy drink of coffee and pulling an all-nighter. However, for anxious people, this could backfire easily.

Obviously, there are going to be times where you procrastinate to the point where you don’t feel like there is any other choice but pulling an all-nighter or just staying up really late. In these situations, the best you can do is not make the situation worse.

This means:

Cut down on the caffeine

  • Caffeine will most likely make you more anxious which will, in turn, make you less productive

Alternatives:

  • Black Coffee ( if you really need coffee this is a compromise)
  • Cold water
  • Lemonade with mint
  • ny cold drink without excess sugar, hot drinks can make you sleepier and sugar can make you crash

Anxiety and other powerful emotions

For some people, homework can be the perfect way to distract yourself when facing intense emotions, but for a lot of anxious people, doing work while having a high level of anxiety may not be the smartest move.

Of course, if you have a deadline around the corner that contributes to your already high amount of anxiety and it may seem like you have no choice. But you do.

In the event that you are completely unable to NOT do the task (highly recommended to wait for a time when you aren’t extremely anxious), here are some tips to help.

Once again, the most ideal situation is to not engage in anxiety-inducing tasks while already anxious. This often results in poorer results and lowered mental health.

Tips and tricks.

Start small

  • Allows you to set the pace, gain confidence and become immersed in getting things done.
  • The hardest part is getting started.

Take breaks. Often.

  • The moment you feel your attention wavering, TAKE A BREAK.
  • Forcing yourself to keep working and then not ending up doing anything but still feeling tired…? You probably need a break.
  • Prevents getting distracted for large amounts of time

Set a 30 min timer

  • Keeps you on track with the motivation of a break
  • Paces you
  • Creates a healthy work relationship

Non-Academic tasks

  • Being productive looks different, take care of hygiene or do chores if you don’t want to start academic work

Some tasks

  • Send emails
  • Clean your space
  • Take care of hygiene
  • Eat or hydrate (Yes still a task! Don’t forget this)

  • By doing tasks that aren’t always seen as a “priority” you still can feel accomplished and proud of yourself

Takeaway

The most important thing is to take care of yourself first. When you are healthy and stable, doing tasks will come easier and take a lot less time if you attempt to do them while anxious and dehydrated. Not all tips will work for you, carve time out to figure out what works for you and your body.

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