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.

Understanding Procrastination

I've come to realize that I don't know a lot about how procrastionation works. I've had a procrastination problem for several years now, ever since I was a student at university. Before that, I never felt like procrastination was much of a problem in my life. Even though I tend to let things slide, it never completely overwhelmed me to the point where it is now. I've always managed to get things done and over with. Lately, procrastination has robbed me of much of my time, and of my happiness. It makes me miserable, because while I feel confident about my abilities, it has made me see myself as an underachiever. Procrastination makes me feel like I am a failure, not because I'm not good enough, but because I don't put my talents to use when I want and for prolonged periods of time. In other words, I see my inconsistency to apply myself as a major reason for my lack of success.

What I want to talk about here is that as a procrastinator, I feel like I don't really understand how procrastination works. I understand the effects of it clearly... loss of time and money, unhappiness, delayed stress, and anxiety. When I say I don't understand it, I mean that I don't understand why it continues to affect me when surely I realize that I would be much better off if I get things done. Like others have mentioned, procrationation almost behaves in the manner of an addiction. It is completely counterproductive yet one feels powerless to stop it. Once it gets going, it's like trying to stop a speeding train. Procrastination overrides one's common sense and will power. It makes a person do things they truthfully don't really want to do, and avoid doing things they really want to get done.

I've recently ordered some books on the subject of procrastionation and addiction so that I can hear what the experts have to say about these topics. "Willpower is Not Enough: Understanding and Overcoming Addiction and Compulsion" and "Now Habit" should be interesting reads. Hopefully the books can provide insight as well as give techniques to overcome these conditions. I'll try to post a review afterwards.

Anyways, maybe the wise thing to do for me is rather than trying to get to the bottom of this problem and understand it, more effort should be made on my part to fight it. If I see this condition like an addiction, maybe I can use techniques that others have tried on curing their own addictions. The thing is, while procrastination is like an addiction, and manifests itself in manners similar to it, I don't believe it is fully an addiction. It's complex really, hard to pinpoint a root cause. There are too many dimensions to procrastination... sometimes it looks unbeatable.




re: cause of procrastination

 kpoet says: "maybe the wise thing to do for me is rather than trying to get to the bottom of this problem and understand it, more effort should be made on my part to fight it."

You go! I don't think you need to understand the cause of your procrastination before you start working on changing the behavior.   My work on modifying the behavior has led me to a lot of discoveries about why I believe I procrastinate.   But understanding doesn't really make the work much easier.  It still takes daily attention, persistence, and prayer to change my behavior one day at a time. 

It sure would be nice if we could get to the bottom of the mystery and discover the root cause of procrastination and then, bingo!, it would be like turning on a light, and the problem would go away.   I don't think it works that way though :grin:  

But by all means read the books and learn as much as you can! 



"The sooner you get behind, the longer you have to catch up." - Steven Wright

Understanding it vs. fighting it

Linda Sapadin book, It's About Time claims that the P

problem is always rooted in someting from your childhood

and that it will help you a great deal if you discover what that is.

I agree, but in the meantime you got get to the tasks at hand

- I suggest trying what I've been doing

- force yourself to start your most urgent task and notice what

things flood your mind - I noticed things like surfing the net, reading the

newspaper and magazines, etc came up for me - write those

things down - then I told

myself work for half an hour, reward yourself for half an hour.

First time I did it I worked for an hour and rewarded myself for

2 hours, then worked for one-and-a-half hours - then I went to

bed - it was 1:15 am Monday morning!

BTW - obessessing over the work isn't working, ie, "how should

I go about this, what will happen if I screw up?", etc, etc.

The only questions should be "Where do I start (GTD="what's

the NEXT action") and I like "how long should the next action

take me to do" Then get going and watch out for blind, time-

wasting, alleys. -

Final thoughts - I don't think anything more than a few simple

tips and tricks will help any of us - if you're looking for a whole

system, you're wasting more time. However, I do think reading

about the P problem is useful but just glean a couple of

nuggets from each source and move on. And, finally, do spend

a greater amount of time reading something else - the inside

of your head - get a roller ball and write it all down in an

8-1/2" x 11" lined spiral or bound notebook - do that for a few

years - reading it all back to yourself every 3/31, 6/30, 9/30



re: obsessing over the work isn't working

so true cpahole and I LOVE your screen name lol. 

I found myself while reading your post thinking this: "well, I really don't like roller balls and I prefer an 8x6 notebook but those are hard to find sometimes staples has them and sometimes they don't"  and it could go on like that all day if I don't stop and refocus lol. 

I haven't really learned how to get rid of the distractions in my head, but I am learning to let them go - or make a note of them as you suggest - and get back to that most urgent task.    At my worst, I might have to do that a hundred times in a 30 minute period.  But I just keep doing it, and doing it, and whaddya know?! work gets done! 

thanks for the insight



"The sooner you get behind, the longer you have to catch up." - Steven Wright