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.

Glad I found this place.

Hello everybody, I'm Pedro. 

Just over a year ago, I was losing control of my life, having been fired from three good jobs where I performed very well but was unable to meet deadlines and was ALWAYS late. I chose a job with flexibility in scheduling but eventually, arriving late and later everyday caught up with me and I was asked to leave.
I finally accepted that something was wrong and got myself a family doctor. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and was put on Escitalopram (Lexapro/Cipralex). After dealing with the initial side effects, I was feeling amazing. I was more focused and had my goals set. Nonetheless, I felt like the procrastination urge continued. 
I managed to open my own business (freelance photographer) and began doing well.
I met the woman of my life. We were just perfect for each other at every turn. Nonetheless, my need for reassurance spooked her. After only dating for a few weeks, I pressured her into titles and plans. She left me. 
After that, it's as if the Escitalopram lost effect completely. Compulsive procrastination with the added side effect of somnolence from the Lex were a bad combination and I lost at least two months of my life.
Like many people here, my days fly by at home. I forget to eat. When I do get the urge to eat, I'll make something quick like cereal and milk. If at all, I'll have maybe two hours of productivity per day. The rest of the day is filled with sleeping, lying in bed or the couch, doing useless stuff, viewing porn. 
Well, I found this site and this describes me to the tee!

1. Disappointment is a way of life. We constantly disappoint other people and ourselves by not keeping our promises. 

2. We have enormous difficulty getting started on new projects, or transitioning from one project to another. 

3. We have a very poor sense of time, chronically underestimating or overestimating how long a task will take us to complete. 

4. We have difficulty organizing projects by breaking them down into steps; we don't know where to start, even when we're willing to start. 

5. We are surrounded by clutter and disorganization in our homes and work spaces. 

6. We are regularly late for appointments. 

7. We are acutely aware of what we should be doing, or think we should be doing, and oddly out of touch with what we actually want and 


8. We feel uncomfortable saying "no" to requests from others, and instead express our resentment through the passive resistance of 


9. We suffer from Demand Resistance, causing us to do anything and everything except the one thing we most need to do. 

10. We are short-term thinkers, focusing on short-term pleasure while ignoring long-term well-being.



That is me summarized. Well, now I think I've been misdiagnosed. The more I read about GAD, the less I think it's me. 
I don't worry about things constantly nor do I have many of the symptoms of GAD. My symptoms are more consistent with OCD instead.
As a child, I was obsessed with symmetry. I couldn't touch one hand without touching another. I got rid of that habit but avoiding stepping on cracks on the sidewalk took its place. 
I'm constantly in a state of near flight or fight, often grinding my teeth or biting my tongue. I feel that way only when I'm alone. I live alone so that doesn't help. Perhaps that's why I'm always seeking reassurance. I do everything to please others. I pick my girlfriends based on what people close to me will say. I try to be successful in life so that other people will pat me on the back. 
I've decided to get off the escitalopram since the somnolence side effect is harming me further. I've gone down from 30mg (the max is 20mg but my doc prescribed me 30mg for some reason) to 20mg and now I'm at 10mg. Within a few weeks, I'll drop to 5mg and then quit altogether.
Currently, I'm feeling a bit more motivated since I'm not sleepy all the time anymore and I've managed to get stuff done by going to a coffee shop instead of trying to do my work at home. 
I find that it's helping to schedule working days and time even though I work for myself. Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 7pm bring me to my local Starbucks where I get an amazing amount of stuff done. It's incredible the difference! 
I'm also joining social activities such as snowboarding once a week with a friend and I'm thinking of joining a dodgeball league. All this is helping tremendously.
Finally, today I'm planning on going to the local mental health institute to inquire about group therapy since I can't afford a personal therapist. 
Now, while I'm completely in sync with what is said on this site -- and I am very thankful for those of you who have come forward to share your stories -- the solution that you propose, the 12 step program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous, is based on God and faith. 
I hope that my thoughts on this don't get me outcasted here but I am a devout atheist. I'm very sure of my beliefs and I don't believe in God nor do I subscribe to organized religion. 
With that in mind, where does that leave me? Can the therapy you speak about be applied to an atheist?
I thank you all very much in advance for your replies and thoughts on my case.


I enjoy reading your posts.  You've certainly inspired a lot of interesting discussions around here!  Nice to have you with us buddy.


Proud of you pedro

Its inspiring and comforting when I read stories like yours. Well done mate. Keep it up.

On a side note, can I ask how the freelance photography is going - have you set up your own business before? Is it tough to set up your own business? PM or email me?

'ex' girlfriend and I arranged to meet!

Well, looks like she's been missing me and has had time to settle her mind. 

I'm cooking dinner for her tomorrow... wish me luck! :-D

Good news!

Well, the good news is that the best that could happen, happened: my girlfriend and I are back together and I now have a second chance at proving that I can make her happy without smuthering her. 

The other good news is that I found a therapist that is well regarded for the kind of problems we're going through. She doesn't "give you a fish", she teaches you "how to fish". She's known for giving you aids at helping you deal with your problems yourself rather than sitting there and listening to you blurt out your problems. 
Although it's a bit expensive, I'd rather go through her than continue taking medication whose side effects turn out to be worse than the initial malaise. 

congrats, Pedro

Sounds like your life is moving towards a healthy balance!

good luck pedro

With the not-so-ex-girlfriend


What a difference knowing the cause of your problems makes!

After learning about this site last night, it made so much sense to me what condition I'm experiencing. 

That knowledge alone seems to have given me a huge boost in productivity! 
I think that knowing what causes all my problems (chronic procrastination) is enough to want to avoid the pain of why I procrastinate to begin with.
In short: the pain caused by my procrastination is greater than that of why I procrastinate. A basic principle in human psychology is avoiding pain so this makes sense. 
All day I've been self conscious about procrastinating, avoiding it every time it creeps up. The result is that I was extraordinarily productive and haven't really felt very anxious at all. 
I've also been able to avoid one of my compulsions: viewing online porn. I'm ashamed of that but whenever I really get into deep procrastination, viewing porn is my outlet. 
Thanks for all the advice everybody! 
Aside from watching myself to avoid procrastination, I'm going to also follow elisaveth's advice about preventing myself from getting
angry, hungry, lonely, or tired

Today I cooked a good veggie lunch. I haven't cooked lunch in ages! I usually have a bite to eat here and there and try to cook dinner every night.

I have so much more energy. 

Anyway, I don't want to throw up the fireworks just yet but I think that I'm on the right path to leading a satisfactory life without the pain of procrastination destroying every facet of it. 

congrats, ipedro

Sounds like you have had one of those 'dawn strikes over marblehead' moments! When it works it works! One thing that I find goes a long way is taking a walk. I do NOT mean a power walk, but a walk through my neighborhood where I can browse, stop along the way to run errands and enjoy the sights and smells of the day. I am genetically programmed not to exercise, but when I do this I feel so much better and am much more productive. It must be endorfines. In any case, I am happy that you have been struck abstinent from procrastination!

A "higher power" for atheists

Hello Pedro,
There is no need to believe in God, in order to work the Twelve Steps.

From Chapter One of the Big Book of A.A. :

{begin quote}  The word God still aroused a certain antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was intensified. I didn't like the idea. I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens, however loving His sway might be. I have since talked with scores of men who felt the same way.

My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"

That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.

It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself.
Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.  {end quote}

The Twelve Steps of A. A. use the word "God" in the wording, so therefore other Twelve-Step groups use similar wording in official documents.

But...  many modern Twelve-Steppers (in any of the programs) don't use the word "God" at all.   Many of use the phrase "Higher Power" instead.  (abbreviated as H.P.).

See this link:

That's what works for me.   You can use the "Collective Wisdom of All Those Who Have Recovered From This Addiction" as your Higher Power.   Or any of the other examples listed in the wikipedia link.

When reading any twelve-step literature, just mentally substitute the phrase "higher power" for the word "God".

The concept is that our own way of doing things was obviously not working, so therefore we need inspiration from another source to guide us.   Some people focus on "God".   Others simply rely on wisdom from the other members of the Twelve-Step group.   It doesn't matter.  What matters is that you are no longer trying to kick this addiction by yourself.

When people refer to a Twelve-Step program as a "spiritual program", this does NOT mean a religious program.  (Although some people choose to incorporate their own religious beliefs into how they follow the program).

When I think of a "spiritual program", ... what that means for me is ..... A program in which I learn to get in touch with the higher and better aspects of myself.

These things mean different things to different people, and that's okay.  Take what you need and leave the rest.

---  movingalong

Thanks for that. I'll

Thanks for that. I'll consider looking at the 12 Step program a little more in depth now :)

Hi Pedro

Glad you're here. Sometimes people are more concerned about their diagnoses than solving the problems at hand. It's not so important what you call it  when it comes to behavior-related stuff as it is changing the behavior(s). Sort of like "It hurts when I do that." "Then don't do that!" I belong to a famous 12 step program which starts with "A". A new lady at a meeting was going on and on about her "clinical depression" one time when an oldster remarked "It sounds like you like to get your way alot."  Months later she shared that that comment helped her as much as any medicine. She still takes something, but only a fraction of what she did before. The root of our problems is usually selfishness and self-centeredness. Procrastination, like drugs and alcohol, gives us a little biochemical buzz when we do it. We can also control people with our procrastination--which can make us feel really "good". This whole thing turns into something we can't conrol, or not very well. Then we ask for help. Help can be a deity, another person, a notebook, calendar, or even a website. Basically, a power greater than ourselves, if you would. As I menioned above how we get so caught up in a diagnosis, we often do the same thing with describing (diagnosing, in a manner) what this power is. I heard someone at a meeting say "My God can kick your God's ass!". Geesh. Whatever makes planets do their thing, plants grow, and you to awaken in the morning is this power. It makes our lives go better when we go with the flow, so to speak. And that's hard sometimes. Other living things may have an advantage over us in this way, since this power comes to them through instincts. We have to try to figure out how to use it. That's basically what being spritual is. I'm still pretty bad at it, but I'm better than before. That's why we often say things like "Progress, not perfection." Gee, I didn't mean to go on so long, but I hope this helps you. Be well.

Hi Pedro -- welcome


Hi & welcome!  I'm an atheist, too, and not a 12-stepper (got two left feet -- I can't even dance the two-step!) but I find this site really helpful, especially the book-end/check-in board. 

We don't have to agree on religion or even on methodology to understand each other, support each other, and be together in the struggle to actually DO the things that in our hearts we want to get done.  Sometimes it's that connection with other people who get it, who care, and who are working on similar problems that makes all the difference.

Hope you'll stick around!


Thanks for your input

Thanks for your input Falcon. Yes, I do plan on sticking around. 

Pro's descriptions of his symptoms are EXACTLY mine. In a way, it's good to know that I'm not alone in this. I can sure learn from other people's experiences in dealing with their malaise and I believe I have a lot to contribute to others as well. 
I've developed some good tactics to get stuff done which include treating my life like a business by coming up with goals at the end of each year and attributing them into Quarters. The digestable 3 month periods allow me to focus on specific tasks and schedule them into weeks and days and get them done. 
At the beginning of each day, I write down a summary of the tasks that need to be completed that day. I try to be realistic.
Finally, another tactic that I've been using: My blackberry has a tasks list that I use religiously. 
The second I think of a task that needs to get done, I input the task and how long it will take to get it done. i.e. (0:30) - Organize laundry
When I find myself with free time, I simply look up my task list and find a task that fits the time that I have available. 
I'm learning to deal with this and finding this site is a very good step in getting to know my condition.
While I seem to have nailed it in regards to what afflicts me, I'm still not sure how loneliness triggers it. I guess that will be my project for the next little while: determining what in my past has caused me to use the coping mechanism of procrastination to deal with loneliness. 
Also, while I know my compulsion, I'm not quite pinpointing my obsession. Yet another secret to unlock in the months ahead.
I look forward to participating in this group. For now, let me go make some lunch! 

" I am not sure how loneliness triggers it"

I'm not sure either, but in OA, another 12 step program, they recommend that you do not allow yourwelf to get to 'angry, hungry, lonely, or tired". I do find that each of these things will trigger acting out.

Avoiding The Four States

elisaveth, I have to congratulate you. Bringing up those four states to avoid seems to have solved a big piece of my compulsive avoidance puzzle. 

While I understood that being lonely in part caused me to procrastinate, your verbalization of those four states have sealed the deal and made it clearer and easier to follow.
I've consciously avoided getting into any of those states and they seem to be the key to falling into compulsive avoidance. Whenever i find myself procrastinating, I try to isolate which, if any, of those states I'm in and then correct it. 
It's working amazingly well! 
I don't usually get angry so the first one doesn't seem to affect me much. Loneliness appears to be the principal cause of my procrastination. In fact, with that in mind, I can now go back to when I began feeling the urge to avoid.
I lived with my brother since I was born and one day, when he left home to go out on his own (he left the country), I found myself getting into this compulsive avoidance. I managed to control it a lot better back then. 
Eventually, I moved out on my own as well, far away from my family and friends and into a small apartment. That's when it REALLY kicked in. 
Knowing this is helping me tremendously and I hope that bringing this up can help others who identify with my case. 
What seems to help? Calling a friend when I feel lonely. Going out more often.
Why is it that I choose to work in environments where I'm around a lot of people? Why is it that I feel "normal" when in these environments? I can get soooo much work done by going to a Starbucks but can't get anything done when I'm home alone in my home office. This is all making so much sense now. 
The "cure" for my compulsive procrastination - in my case - is calling up a friend, going out to work, being around people. Minor causes: getting hungry or tired. Avoiding any of these three is allowing me to lead a perfectly normal and productive life.

that strikes a chord

I relate very well to the four states. reflecting on my own childhood, I was always around lots of other people, even outside of my family. If I felt lonely, all I had to do was to go downstairs and almost always there was someone I enjoyed speaking to. In fact, I often chose being alone as a form of relaxation as there were always people about. I really did not start to procrastinate until when there really weren't other folks around except for my family at about the time I was a senior in high school: that is when serious issues of procrastination and avoidance began to creep into my life. Actually, it probably began even earlier than that with putting off doing homework in eighth grade, ticking my parents off in the process.

In fact, however, when I would have the anxiety of not being capable of doing particular work in college, I sought out other people and distracted myself that way. It became a form of procrastination. For me, this fellowship helps me to feel connected when I am alone at work. It is a place to unload all that is on my mind so I can move forward again.

I do get angry, but my mother modeled that anger was a 'bad' emotion: to this day she says she does not get angry, although I think she is lying to herself. When I would get angry, I would get hungry. I began to notice the connection as well with anxiety: I would begin any assignment that was daunting by looking in the refrigerator. I finished my thesis in college by eating my way through it: it helped me to get through the fear that was causing me to procrastinate.

Tiredness is also a trigger, less so for procrastination behaviors, but for other self-indulgent self soothing behaviors, such as eating, drinking, reading, playing computer games, etc. All of them are interconnected for me.

I am very happy for you to have found a way to clarify for yourself what gets in your way.