Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

No Time Bingeing: Key to Ending Procrastination

Something that All Procrastinators Do

One of the key characteristics of procrastinators is the tendency to "time binge" when they do something. I've noticed this in my own life, and it was a key finding in research done by Robert Boice, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook (or was - I think he's retired now).

One of the things that's especially hard about stopping procrastination is knowing what action constitutes the addictive behavior - what do you need to be abstaining from? If you're procrastinating by watching TV or surfing the internet, is TV or the internet what you need to avoid? I don't think so. I think what we, as chronic procrastinators, need to avoid - need to abstain from - is time bingeing, which Boice defines as doing something (anything - even dreaded tasks) for 3+ hours with no interruption. In fact, in his articles about procrastination, he recommends doing the dreaded task (writing, in his research) for no more than 15-60 minutes per day, averaging 30 minutes. Most procrastinators think you can't get anything useful done in 15-30 minutes, but people who worked 15-30 minutes per day get a lot more writing done than time bingers, as Boice's research clearly demonstrates.

Strategy 1

This suggests some very helpful interventions for procrastinators that I've never seen mentioned anyplace before... Procrastination is essentially an escapist activity that involves narrowing of focus and time bingeing. So one very effective counter-measure is to force yourself, every 30 minutes, to stop what you're doing for 5-10 minutes and take stop - become mindful of what you are doing and what you need to do. It might be useful during this time to go through a prioritized checklist or a list of check-in questions to ask yourself as ways to force you back into the present moment and break the time binge.

Note that time bingeing goes for "good" behavior as well as obvious procrastinations. You shouldn't work excessively even on the things you need to do because then you exhaust yourself, and also then you reinforce the mistaken notion that you need a huge block of time to even start, which is a major reason why people don't start (it's hard to find these big blocks of time). This is one of the key findings of Boice's research.

Strategy 2

If you don't like the periodic check-in idea, another strategy that might work is to cycle through activities in 15-30 minute chunks. If you are playing on the internet and you need to be doing something else, do the something else for 15 minutes, then surf for 15 minutes, then back to something else you need to be doing for 15 minutes.

Or if you're in such a state that you can't do the dreaded task at all, then do some other activity you like in alteration with something else you like. What's most important is to break the time binge with its narrowing of focus. Force yourself to switch to a different activity every 15-30 minutes. Even if you are still spending a lot of time fooling around, you'll probably spend some time not fooling around, and something is better than nothing. Plus you will have the experience of seeing that real work can be done in 15-30 minutes, which will encourage you to procrastinate less over time.

If you try these suggestions, post your experience! Did they help?


using small blocks of time

These suggestions around of what one can do to use the P.A. Tools for Recovery are great!  It's interesting to see how tools 5 & 6 which I've pulled out below work together.

  • Avoid Time Bingeing: One reason procrastinators dread starting is that once they start they don't let themselves stop. Plan to work on a task for a defined period of time, then set a timer. When the timer goes off, you're done.
  • Use Small Blocks of Time: Procrastinators often have trouble doing tasks in incremental steps, and wait for big blocks of time that never come. When you have small blocks of time, use them to work on the task at hand.

There have been some other practical posts on using small blocks of time which I've pulled together here, including Microburstsdealing with rebelllionthe procrastination hack;  and the Pomodoro Technique

I'm finding trying to train my monkey mind is like trying to break a wild horse! So I'd suggest that for those using small blocks of time for the first, short microbursts are a good place to start, and then perhaps build up to slightly longer blocks of time used for example by the Pomodoro Technique. 

I've also found a couple of posts on types of procrastination and concentration, plus using the chatbox check-in, have helped me deal with my demand resistance and getting started.   

Relaxing without 'time binging' on Junk activities...

Just adding my thoughts on time binging...

Partly it's the time that's being taken up with activities that makes it time binging, but in other cases, I think it is something about the activity itself that makes me more likely to 'binge'.
Like, there's something I'm wanting, hungry for, like intellectual stimulation, or social interaction, but rather than getting that, I find an activity that only meets a tiny part of that need, the mental equivalent of 'junk food' and start binging on it. The internet is especially bad for that.

I got home at 11pm, and rather than going to bed, I spent the last 2hrs 50mins, writing reviews/posts online, and other makework. I think I was wanting to relax, but I feel like - if I'd gotten my guitar out, I would have felt *more* satisfied I'd just sat and played for 15 minutes. So why didn't I do that?
I think I need to come up with a list of activities I should be doing *instead* of the ones I binge on - ones that actually relax me, or fulfill me, or satisfy me.

And, I should go to bed rather than posting this!

re: Relaxing without 'time binging' on Junk activities...

yep, i know of whence you speak.  Junk food is a really good analogy for it.  i know of that want, that hunger, that you describe.  I do feel like in me, too, somehow this whole procrastination phenomena is an unproductive way to attempt to fill it.

Of course--at least these days--i conceive of this yearning as primarily spiritual, a created being wanting to be filled once again with its creator.  I feel if i could keep this idea in my mind, i wouldnt procrastinate, but i can't quite do that.  This morning's prayer was amazingly fulfilling in that regard, one of my best prayer times ever, but it tends to fade thruout the day.  I'll check-in later to report.

I am hoping that you will be able to play that guitar and truly relax.  I'm routing for you.

re: Relaxing without 'time binging' on Junk activities...

That is definately a need of mine also (spiritual), it's something that satisfies me deeply. But I had a very intense Friday and Sunday in terms of different religious ceremonies and making spiritual commitments.
And, I think that I need all those things...
Spiritual replenishment, intellectual stimulation, social interaction, and accomplishment in 'learning a new skill' (somehow just slightly different to intellectual stimulation).
A little of all of those, and often, really makes me feel good. It just seems strange to necessarily 'schedule' them, ie 'fiddle around with guitar' on my todo list! But, maybe that would make me more comfortable with lessening the distinction between things I 'have' to do, ie todo list, and things I 'want' to do. I think I'm worried about turning "want to's" into "have to's" because I already do that, and it's really bad. :P

One thing with the spiritual practice though, I have gotten more involved with group worship activities etc, and actually, there's a different replenishment in time spent by myself, or spent with a single close friend - so I am working on getting more of that.

various yearnings

yeah, i feel them all also.  For me they are mostly a constellation around the central spiritual one, but i try to nourish my whole person as you said you do.

I have trouble with 'want to' vs. 'have to'.  What's the difference?  What is free will, anyway.  I want to follow god's will, because it is a universal 'ought' which i feel.  so which is it? 

Step 3 of the 12 steps is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God."  When you do that, have you given up your free will or do you retain it and simply willfuly align it to God's?

I better clam up before i get too far off on a philosophical rant.

my spiritual practice is mostly alone, which i can't imagine living without (at least my life as it is now), and the corporate worship / fellowship side is growing.  But then, i'm naturally an introvert anyway.  Like, it's uncomfortable for me to share here, but i trust our HP that it will wind up in community that benefits us all.  On this forum and in my church--so far so good :)

Higher powers, sidetrack onto 12 step religious discussion

My problem is,
I don't think I have the right conceptual framework to 'understand' G-d, HP's* etc enough to understand how I'd turn over my will or life to a HP?
That's is incidentally what I'm working on this year though, personal relationship with the divine.

Athiests, agnostics etc - skip the following!
Religion is for the crazy among us. ;)
(I'm not entirely sure why it's so common... heh)

I think this would get into a complicated comparative religion discussion, but basically, I've had brief, brief experiences of... connection to a oneness, love, and a sense of a beauty in the heart of all things, loss of distinction between self and universe.
And well, I'm not sure how you'd turn your will over to that?
That's everything, I'm a tiny mote that's already part of it, I turn my will over and well, here it is back again!
It's more, that that often inspires me to try and live a more... what's the word? There's a perfect one. Possibly starts with a c? Coherent, cogent... Umm. A more considered, flowing life, compatible with my values and ideals? Integrated? 
Sometimes there's a sense when it's happening right, that I'm in the groove, going with the flow, where I'm meant to be, and that everything seems to comes together smoothly.

That's connection with immanent deity though, not personal deity.
My challenge this year is to try and work on a more personal understanding of deity...

* And, I'm a bit slow, it took me ages to realise that HP was 'higher power' in your posts - d'oh! ;)

i looked this post up for

i looked this post up for the defn of time binging and i read your post here grail and have been thinking about it.

> I think this would get into a complicated comparative religion discussion

which would delight me, personally, to no end :) :): ) :)

> I've had brief, brief experiences of... connection to a oneness, love, and a sense of a beauty in the heart of all things, loss of distinction between self and universe. And well, I'm not sure how you'd turn your will over to that? ... Sometimes there's a sense when it's happening right, that I'm in the groove, going with the flow, where I'm meant to be, and that everything seems to comes together smoothly.

This reminds me of an analogy i've been playing with recently. If God's will is like a magnetic field, say like the earth's magnetic field. And we are like a compass needle. There's a built-in affinity between us and that force field that seems to be running thru everything. You and i and many others have reported that things seem to "line up" at certain times in our lives, what i might imagine the compass needle might feel when it finds its natural orientation. interestingly, we all claim these are brief moments, glimpses, if you will.

Free will, then, maybe, is as if the compass needle was free to point in any direction it wanted to. It could do it, and the earth's force field will let it. The earth's force field is a "still small voice", it will let other voices out-shout it. But the compass needle in pointing in another direction will not experience that lining up, that flow, that we've experienced.

This analogy can even speak to the word "surrender" we often use. While the needle *can* point in any direction (imagining a needle with free will) it can also choose to forgo that option, and surrender to the earth's force field. this is very similar to how i see myself surrendering my will to god. And just like a compass needle, it takes me a little time to zone in on exactly what direction that is. And disturbances in my environment can knock me off course, and it takes some time to settle back into the flow.

And when i'm pointing in-line with the great universal moral force field, i am contributing my tiny forcefield to the big one, instead of fighting against it.


My two cent's worth on spirituality and HP

In my life, my spiritual growth has been more by default rather than intent. It's been more personal, and I don't feel the need to change others' views to mine. In my experience, people who've entered 12 step programs, and gotten "religion" usually fail. When someone tries to impose their religious ideals on me, I've found that a smile and something like "I know where you're coming from! I used to think the same way myself."  Be well.

yeah, your original title

yeah, your original title was not exactly what you mean to say <grin>

want to's vs. have to's

someone wise here (I can't recall which wise person) suggested reframing all the things that are on your must do list into the perspective of i want to do:. for instance, I may dread doing my practicum, but I want the benefits that will come from having done it, so I really want to do it. I want to do the laundry, because I want to have lots of choices of things to wear. It does help me turn around beastly tasks when I examine my ultimate desires.

re: want to's vs have to's

I was reading about that and it struck so many bells.

The idea that you can get so caught up in turning things into 'shoulds' and "have to's" that you start resisting them all, and worse - lose touch with what you *want* to do.

I've taken up very many hobbies, and as soon as I start getting good at something, I lose interest.
I realised it's because getting good at it means I turn it into something I 'should' be practicing on, I 'should' be doing.

That's what bothered me most - when I procrastinate on things I enjoy, or things I really need to do (ie eating, actually getting off the computer and going to the bathroom - that last one sounds ridiculous to most people, but I think there's a couple of people here who can identify ;P).

Anyway, I know that, and yet I still can't seem to convince my head they're actually 'wants' once I've converted them to shoulds. I'd like to get back to drawing, but - once I started getting good, I lost interest. :P
Or, I guess what I mean is, I'd like to be interested in drawing again?
That was what I was trying to do earlier, trying to be more clear about what I really *are* 'wants' and  what are 'shoulds', as I'm not clear enough on it myself.
Once I've got it sorted that yes, I really do *want* to do my 'wants', I'll work on stage 2 - wanting to do my 'shoulds'!

This is a great thread

What a relief to read all these posts and realize that I am not alone.  (Thank you to everyone who posted.)  I have almost missed planes because I was reading, stayed in the house for two days straight, day and night because I didn't want to put down a book, etc.  And I definitely relate to playing video games on the internet for HOURS and totally hating it and hating looking at the screen and being so sick of it -- but somehow just glued there.  I think there is something to this idea that a lot of procrastinator's have trouble transitioning, trouble ending one activity and beginning another.  That rings very true for me.

And now:  I must go, look for what I was looking for on these threads and do some work.   *Looks over at timer*


"Time Clutter" contrasted with "Spiritual Timing"

"Time Clutter" ... as contrasted with "Spiritual Timing"

From Clutterers Anonymous:

I have found that very insightful.

Updating link for "Spiritual Timing" vs. "Time Clutter"

Giving corrected/updated link for Clutterers Anonymous page on "Time Clutter" ... as contrasted with "Spiritual Timing":

spiritual timing

Interesting - thanks for posting the link.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Question about Boice's research

Since time bingeing was already a topic, I just thought I'd add a comment instead of starting a fresh thread.

I wanted to comment about Boice's original research. Above, pro said that Boice recommended not writing for more than 60 minutes a day. This, I guess, could be done in two 30-minute chunks.

But I wonder what Boice's experience is as an academic, because this is not always realistic for me. For writing--possibly. For other projects, no way! I had an experience in time bingeing this week: I had to grade a bunch of papers, because I had put them off until I had to do them. Each paper took upwards of a 1/2 hour to grade. And I hated it, and took lots of breaks. So fine: I'm convinced that perhaps reading one paper at a time is a good strategy.

However, I have 41 students in this class, so that's about 20 hours of grading. I am NOT going to spend 20 days grading these papers in one-hour chunks. Forget it. The students need the papers back well before three weeks is up.

Maybe I'm being picky, but for the next batch of papers, due next Monday, I'm planning to grade five papers a day, interspersed throughout other activities during the day. So that is five 1/2-hour chunks.

But is that the solution for time-bingeing--mixing very different tasks from different projects with each other? I can certainly do that--I have teaching, letters of recommendation, research, writing, and so on.

In the meantime, I am still stuck on keeping writing to just one hour a day. I can definitely see why not to do too much. I wrote a paper this summer and fall by spending all day, every day on it, and it took FOREVER, and I did a lot of procrastinating within the time I was writing. On the other hand, I tend to get ideas flowing if I spend more than one hour a day.

What are the citations for Boice's original research?

In the meantime, that's what I'm going to do: break projects down into tasks, and mix tasks from different projects. Any thoughts, anyone?

Boice's conclusions

All I can tell you is that Boice's recommendations are based on well-controlled research - the only research I've ever seen of its kind. People who worked in the way he described got tons more writing done than the time bingers. He didn't invent the recommendations and then try them out. He did it the other way - compared the behavior of people who published a lot and people who didn't.

Note that Boice is not talking about grading papers. He's talking about writing articles and books in the midst of a full time job with other responsibilities (preparing lectures, grading papers, etc.) There are some things that it makes sense to work on for more than an hour at a time - for example programming. Even so, it's good to limit it and take breaks. Otherwise you burn yourself out and there's a backlash of procrastination later.

If you google "Robert Boice", you'll see his articles and books.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Boice & time bingeing

It may be the case that for writing, at least academic writing, it's best to do it in small, daily chunks. And maybe if I were totally on top of my work, I could do my writing for just 30-60 minutes a day and stay afloat. But I think I'd have to do more than that on a regular basis because my job just involves more writing. If I ever catch up, I can do an experiment and see! :grin:

As to time bingeing generally, I think the focus is on long stretches of work (or anything) *without* breaks. So I don't think the idea is to not work on anything for more than a total of 30-60 minutes a day, but to do some combination of mixing up tasks, as you suggest, and taking breaks. Personally, I also think that for some tasks, it's very inefficient to break them up too much. For some things, it takes so long to get back into them (e.g., certain kinds of research, certain kinds of writing) that you could wind up spending a lot of time just re-orienting to the project again and again after each break.

As to the cite, I borrowed once of Boice's books through interlibrary loan, but don't recall the title. I found a few of them on Amazon, but they're quite expensive--sort of textbook-priced.

Boice's books

I found a place to download that pricey book from somewhere, but I no longer remember where I got it. It was some kind of electronic book service - maybe it was called Quest? Something like that. I paid about $15 for it, as I recall. I have a lousy memory, but I think this is ballpark correct. I joined the service for one month, downloaded the book, then cancelled my subscription.

Being compulsive, I then meticulously reformatted it and printed it out. Tongue out

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Found Boice

I found his work in our library:

Boice, Robert. 1994. How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

This is about writing in particular, not so much about procrastination.

So I checked it out. And as I said, I did a little work on an article today, as pro says Boice recommends.

I want to look up his work on procrastionation, but one thing at a time.

This soooo describes me. I

This soooo describes me. I can easily troll the www 12+ hours/day. But to find 15 minutes to clean the kitchen - I can't get started because I know 15 minutes is not going to make a big dent in the chaos of my home.

My shrink told me I have an addictive personality (upon starting to smoke cigarettes at the age of 43). Fortunately I am not that addicted as I have been smoking from the same pack for 4 months now.

This makes so much sense. Still wondering though how to break the cycle and get started. Inertia is keeping me bound to my computer.


Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe - Albert Einstein


>Still wondering though how to break the cycle and get started. Inertia is keeping me bound to my computer.

Daily pot smoking causes major inertia. Been there, done that. If you want to solve the procrastination problem, you have to first stop the pot smoking. I know that's not trivial if you really are a daily pot smoker (as you said in another message), but that truly is the "easier softer way". If you don't stop the pot, your life will continue to spin out of control. AA can be extremely helpful for this, even if you don't drink at all and just smoke pot. If you drink sometimes, too, you should stop that as well. Otherwise, when you stop smoking pot, you'll start drinking more. I speak from experience.

Monica's picture


...cycle through activities in 15-30 minute chunks. If you are playing on the Internet and you need to be doing something else, do the something else for 15 minutes, then surf for 15 minutes, then back to something else you need to be doing for 15 minutes.

I've been doing this on and off all day, and I've discovered something about myself. I have no since of time. I am amazed at what 15 minutes really feels like. It's become obvious to me, that I've lived my life as a binger for so long that I can't tell 15 minutes from 5 minutes. When my timer goes off I can't believe my time is up already. I can see how easy it is for me to binge... because from my warped since of reality, I could work on a project and feel as if I've only put in a few minutes, when in reality I've put in a few hours. This is a really good exercise for me, simply because it is re-teaching me how to judge time. Each time I have to stop at the ring of the timer, it reemphasizes in my mind, "Monica, that's 15 minutes. Anther 5 or 10 minutes tacked on is NOT 15 minutes. This is, no more, no less."


If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

"I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.

no sense of time

Me to!!!!!!!!!! I have no sense of time at all.

I kept a time log for a while, and found it extremely helpful. I wrote an article about this, too - it's in the Articles section. Time logs help you to be more aware of time and how long it takes you to do different times.

Poor sense of time is a symptom of ADD, by the way, which I have. Probably those without ADD also can have distorted senses of time, but this is a common issue with ADD people.

Monica's picture

Time Bingeing

It's hard not to time binge on some things. I feel incomplete when some tasks aren't completed.

For example:
This morning I was suppose to quickly check-in and get my day started. But when I tried, I couldn't get an Internet connection. So I tried disabling my connection and then enabling it. It didn't work. I tried closing the browser, then re-opening it. It didn't work. I tried seeing if I could log on to another site. No deal. by now, I'm thinking, "Monica, leave it alone an get ready for Church." But no, I have to give it one more try. Maybe if I power down the modem I can get a connection. NOPE. OK, OK, let me power down the computer. That should do it. Mean while, I'm now 40 min behind schedule. But the anxiety of not getting connected is too much. Cause I know I can fix this; just 5 more minutes. All the time I know I should just step away. This is not urgent. I can always post later, when I get back home. But I can't let it go. So I power down my computer, bring it back up, and the darn thing still will not work. DANG IT!!! OK, OK, let me power down the computer, the modem, and the router. Now I'm an hour and 15 min behind and my husband is giving me dirty looks like you wouldn't believe. But I don't care. All I care about is one thing, and one thing only. I have to finish what I've started. So I power every thing back up and FINALLY, I am able to get a connection. I post my CI. I feel complete. I can go on with my day.

I know time binging is wrong, but some how leaving things always feels more wrong (I know that's not proper grammar). I feel frustrated, anxious, unsettled, and somehow inadeqate when I don't finish. With so many negative consequences it's extremely hard for me to walk away.


If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

"I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.

Re: Time Bingeing

(Monica, now I'm copying how you do subjects (Re: xxx). I've been copying you all day long on signatures, checkboxes, etc. and I feel a little self-conscious about it. Well, they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.)

Anyway... I'm just like you in this department. If I have something I want to do and something prevents me from doing it, I'm like a pitbull - I cannot let go of it until I solve the problem. I'm ridiculously persistent. I will spend DAYS on technical problems like why I can't get bluetooth synchronization to work between my PC and PDA. On one hand, persistence is admirable. But I take it WAY overboard.

I have no idea what to do about this type of time bingeing because I feel CRAZY unless I can resolve the problem. And yet it causes me to do things out of priority order - seriously out of priority order. I have let very important things lapse because I had to get to the bottom of some mystery. I guess I need to learn to let go of things.

Monica's picture


Don't feel self-conscious. I've only noticed when you've mentioned it. Besides, there is nothing new under the sun. Everything you've seen me do, I've gotten from someone else. And I don't feel the least bit apologetic about it. You are welcomed to anything I post if it is of help to you.


If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

"I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.


I've just found this site and been browsing around. I did not procrastinate in signing up, though (ha!). This concept of bingeing is excellent. I used to write 30 page term papers in college, when all that was required was 10 pages, because I just could not stop. I got to where I would start typing them at about 8 pm the night before they were due (or rather, the night before all my extensions ran out) so that I would run out of time (either literally, or just run out of steam from getting sleepy) and quit, finally. I always got A's. In fact, in college, time-bingeing was a fairly effective strategy. Once, however, I was late with a paper, went to the library to type it at 10 am, expected to be finished typing by noon, realized it was getting a little later than that after awhile, but was startled when the lights suddenly went out on me. That meant it was 10 pm! I had sat there typing for 12 hours on a paper I had thought would take two or three. I only went to the bathroom once, early on. Until the lights went out, I had crouched in the same position and had no awareness of my need to pee, of how much my back and shoulders hurt, of how my head ached, of how thirsty or hungry I was, or anything! And then I had to feel my way down from the third floor in total darkness, hoping I wasn't locked in, and having no idea where the restrooms were so I did all this agonizing creeping on a full bladder. Procrastinators are so often called lazy, but I think I often procrastinate about starting something because I fear it will totally consume me. Thank you, Pro, for this article and for this site. I have never before thought of procrastination as addictive, but this zombie-like state is as unpleasant as being hung over, and it interferes with my work (and play) just like an addiction. I had already identified a certain gambling aspect, though--I often tell myself things like, "I bet I can still get it done if I wait until after this TV show...." I can't tell you how often I have been online and had my husband come tell me, "Do you realize it's 3 am?" I do LOTS of bingeing!

Oh no, we're not lazy!

Hi Slider - great to have you on board! :)

We can work very hard procrastinating. In fact, one of our excuses is 'I'm too busy' - running this committee, getting this newsletter out (that's my one!), or whatever. Just the act of procrastination requires vast amounts of mental effort sometimes.

If you can begin to get a handle on this time bingeing it will be well worth it - I think all of us who post here have had/have problems with it. 'Bookending' or using a timer are both ways to help combat it.

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This is me to a T. I never really realized it until I noticed this article, but I absolutely do this for things I do and dont enjoy. I will sit down with a book and finish it that same day, no matter how long it is. Or play on the Internet for hours at a time, even when Im bored and sick of looking at the computer.

When it came to schoolwork, I would sit down one time and finish my 10 page papers, or all of my homework. It is the same with work - I do it time binges. Its like once I start something, I have to finish. I cant move on to the next task, even though I know I should take a break or that something else really should be worked on first.

Its nice to see Im not the only one like this. I think I drive my boyfriend crazy because I lose focus of everything but whatever I am doing at that moment, I completely zone out of my surroundings.

Breaking projects down is hard

"Its like once I start something, I have to finish." I do the same thing -- if I have a project that should take four hours to finish, I usually don't want to work on it unless I expect to have four hours in a row to do it. But I never get (or make) that block of time.

So we end up trying to cram our work into the last hours before a deadline. This may result in work that is good enough for other people, but not the best we could do -- not good enough for ourselves.

Breaking projects down into smaller parts isn't all that hard -- we understand what we need to do build project outlines and so forth. Keeping those parts separate in my head is the tough part, and soon I'm trying to time-binge again.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to keep my actions disconnected from my projects, so I can try to do them in isolation?


Tough Question

Firstly, I'm not sure what you mean by keeping your actions disconnected from your projects, as the actions you are talking about are all ~part of~ the project, aren't they? I'm guessing you're talking about staying just with the sub-action that you've chosen to do and not getting carried away with going onto the next stage of the project. Correct me if I've got the wrong end of the stick!

One way of doing it is to do your actions before something that happens at a set time - for example, I have actions to complete in the morning, and if I'm in a bit of a procrastinatory mood I'm much better at getting them done on days I go to my payroll job in the morning. (If I'm in a ~very~ procrastinatory mood I will do the bare minimum, like getting washed and dressed). I don't tend to commit to many appointments I feel obliged to keep though (which I think is part of the procrastination thing in itself), so this has limited application for me.

Another suggestion is to see each action as a whole sub-project in itself - not all projects break down like that, but if it does, take advantage of it. I get a sense of completion for each stage.

The other suggestion is time based, e.g. set a timer for 30 mins, which often works for things that are ongoing (like housework), but personally I'm not so good with this if it's a project with a finite end (I've only just realised this, so thanks for asking the question!). I use a timer and will set myself a time to work on a task (I just typed 'to complete a task' and realised that therein lies my problem with using the timer - the time allocated isn't to ~complete~ the project, but to work on it, leaving it perhaps incomplete - and I think that's the issue that we're both facing here - this is probably why I sometimes ignore the timer).

I hope you get more suggestions - I could use some right now as I'm going through a difficult procrastination phase again.


Good suggestions, Normy

You've got it pretty much right, Normy -- I see a single action and remember that it's connected to all this other stuff that needs to happen before the project is completed. I worry about all the work that remains and end up paralyzed.

Of your suggestions, I've been trying a version of the first one. I made a weekly plan for this week, so I would have things to do "today" and other things to do "tomorrow" to keep me from putting things off. It hasn't worked all that well for me -- I'm more than a day behind now.

I seem to have good days followed by bad days. Monday, I did most of my planned stuff for the day. Tuesday, I did one of the Monday items that wasn't done, but not much else. Wednesday, I did almost all my Tuesday items. Now it's Thursday, and I'm "bleah" again.

I'm working on a project with weekly progress reports, so I'll probably get into gear so I have more progress to report... but that probably means I'll deflate again after I've done the report.


Actually, for the first

Actually, for the first suggestion I meant something more like 'plan to spend an hour on project before doctor's appointment' (or whatever), so that you are forced to stop at that time. It works reasonably well for me, but I don't have that many appointments.

IKWYM about feeling 'bleah' - me too. I've been up and down, mostly down, this past week - do you think it could be sun spots? ;) I usually work quite well with weekly plans but this week I've only managed about one thing (and that was off last week's plan).


I have the same open-schedule problem

I don't have many appointments or meetings, either, so I don't have a lot of landmarks in my days to help with that kind of scheduling. Heck, I can't even bet on when lunch is going to be. (I have lunch with my wife, on her unpredictable schedule, pretty much every workday.)

Sunspots, moonspots, Daylight Saving Time -- whatever it is, it's frustrating. I haven't had a solid productive week in far too long. At least I am having some good days.


I'm glad to see that someone

I'm glad to see that someone has systematized something I stumbled on rather recently. As a self-employed person, working at home, I find it all too easy to wander from one thing to the next without accomplishing very much. Occasionally, inspired by who knows what, I've deliberately worked in short time segments and alternated between work-for-pay and other pursuits (right now, knitting Christmas presents, which I enjoy). Somehow I end the day feeling much better when I've made progress on several fronts, or been active in several different ways. The variety is both stimulating and calming -- I guess you could say I feel more like a human being after such a day. After a day of time-bingeing (THANK YOU for that term!) I feel subhuman. Not healthy, of course. Now that you've provided this handy guide, I'll try it more systematically and post the results here.

not particularly wonderful if you are paid by the hour

k, maybe programming is writing, and maybe I'd get more done if I worked 1 hour a day, but then I'd be earning less than I have to pay for my mortgage per year.  If I alternate chunks of work with other things, then my life quickly becomes f-ed up -- in order to work an 8 hour day, I have to be around my home office 16 hours while alternating work with something else.  Saying that time-binging is bad sounds great in theory, but it doesn't really help someone who is paid by the hour.

Time Bingeing on things I like

I just said on another thread I would come back later, and I'm still here, procrastinating, but 'Time Bingeing' is something that has really caught my imagination.

I don't just time binge on things I don't want to do - I also procrastinate, and time binge, on things I enjoy. I don't really understand why I procrastinate on them, but I ~do~ understand the time bingeing! Unfortunately, I find that 'less is more' - more satisfying. I enjoy surfing the net and I enjoy reading - but if I do either of them for too long (over an hour and a half say) I become zombified - I stare at the screen/book, don't want to move (even to put something warmer on if I'm cold, or go to the loo), and my mood becomes depressed. I've tried interspersing these sorts of activities with more active pursuits, but once I've started I don't want to stop (I've tried using a timer - I ignore it).

Anyway, my timer for ~this~ activity went off about 15 mins ago, so I'm going to go and try 'book-ending'.

Time Bingeing explains so many things...

I completely relate -- bingeing on wasting time, bingeing on getting something important done, bingeing on enjoyable and satisfying activities -- all of this also plays in to the "have to get it done in one sitting" and "have to do it perfectly" mentalities that have plagued me my whole life.  Enforcing time blocks on ALL activities makes so much sense. 

I totally understand!

I do the same thing. I'm at my worst when I'm programming. I don't eat, don't sleep... Just as you say, I don't want to get up to get a sweater if I'm cold, or visit the loo. I'm being productive, in a sense - well, sometimes very productive in this one narrow area. But I'm too hyper-focused. I have no awareness of my life as a whole - my other needs, my other responsibilities. It's - like you say - a way to zone out.

I've done this with novels, too - can't put them down. I'll plow through a 900 page book doing virtually nothing else until I finish it. I haven't done that in a while.

I have been programming the last few days so I haven't been active in the bookending forum. I should start doing that. I've been too hyper-focused.

I know exactly what you

I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I compulsively read an entire book in less then a day at the expense of all other activities. It actually gets really boring but for some reason I just can't put it down. When I catch myself doing that now I make a promise I know I CAN keep.

For example: I previously would plan to stop reading after five pages. Of course once I had read those five pages I felt like it wasn't enough, so I'd read five more... Now I plan to read thirty pages and actually feel satisfied once I've done it and can stop. :)

And great job with the site, it's great to talk about all of this stuff with people who "get it."

Book bingeing

Sometimes I end up in a kind of daze from reading too much and it doesn't even feel good. I prefer books with 'reasonable' sized chapters - that I can crunch through in 1/4 hour or 1/2 hour. I hate it when I realise a book I have doesn't have chapters, or they're 200 pages long - there isn't a logical place to stop, and I've sometimes lost the thread when I get back to it, depending on the complexity of the content.