Newbie with a question....
Might I say I love this website! I feel at home :)
My procrastination has plagued me all my life. Here's the punch at the end of a long story. I am a PROFESSIONAL ORGANISER! :jawdrop: Yes! So we are human after all...!
My procrastination manifests itself in an inability to complete things. I am okay starting things (and often do with gusto!). I am not a fan of the ADD tag, but I will say that I present with all the symptoms of adult ADD. I won't label myself that because I don't beleive in it as a disorder (no offense to those who do, it's just a belief of mine, I could be wrong!) just as a personality type.
Sooo.....does anyone else have the 'failure to follow-thru' form of procrastination????? Does anyone have any ideas on how I can overcome it?
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Happy/Unhappy to be a member of your club
Having stumbled upon your site whilst in my 'postponing-other-business' mode, I read all your contributions with great interest.
My problem is related to my age, not that I consider myself to be old, but in that I was given no option other than retirement at the age of 65.
So now I have vast swathes of time to invest in all those creative projects that my busy working life left so little room for. But, and here's the crunch, I have no more externally imposed deadlines to work to, so I routinely just leave most of it to the day that never comes.
I can honestly say that in my 45 working years, I never missed a deadline because of procrastination, though I did tend to leave things to the last minute and then work frenziedly to meet my commitments - I worked better under pressure, I told myself.
I too was an organizer, and was intollerant of indolence in any shape or form... now I'm the worst offender, especially when it comes to long-term projects... perhaps I should have joined Hypocrites Anonymous instead :)
Ok, so I have half a dozen books that are 'finished' in as much as I have written 'the end' on the final pages, but are not finished to my satisfaction and thus not ready to submit to a publisher. Yes quite, the old 'perfectionism excuse' you've already discussed, but I really do need to work on these manuscripts, because they really do need fixing, and nobody can do that but myself. Any good advice welcomed and...Ah rats, it's getting late... I'll have another look at all that tommorrow.
procrastination & binging
there are some who believe that just like how anorexia and binging and purging are two sides of the same coin, perfectionism, and binging are two sides of the same coin.
your "binging" right before a deadline sounds like part of the syndrome to me. I've often postulated that there might be a lot of "binging procrastinators" out there that dont even know they're procrastinators, but i've never met one in real life. Maybe you're the first?
sign 9 always brings clarity for me:
from http://procrastinators-anonymous.org/node/386 then from "PA Signs of Compulsive Procrastination" http://procrastinators-anonymous.org/files/PA_Signs.html :
9. We suffer from Demand Resistance, causing us to do anything and everything except the one thing we most need to do.
I am guessing that you would report this experience when a deadline was NOT looming?
welcome and i look forward to recovering along side you.
the touch of the master's hand: http://procrastinators-anonymous.org/node/1898#comment-27748
"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb
"You've got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret. You've got to bet on yourself now, star, 'cause that's your best bet." - from All Mixed Up by 311
Perfectionism and/or boredom
Since you say you show all the symptoms of ADD, I suppose you've already seen that being easily bored makes it hard to stick with things. Once you've demonstrated that you know how to do something, you don't want to do it over and over again -- that's just dull! In this case, I think the best choice is to just do things in short steps and keep starting until you're done.
Perfectionism is more insidious -- you may not finish things because "finished" things can be judged and found wanting. If you're not finished with something and a flaw appears, you can always hide behind "not finished yet" to save your image of perfection. I know I have problems with declaring things done when I can always find some additional work to make them even better.
I would think that working as a professional organizer might reinforce your perfectionism. Does it?
Organised and perfect are different...
I have to say that no, it doesn't really reinforce it. When I coach one of the main things I teach is that being organised is not being perfect. It's because I'm not perfect that I make a good organiser because so much of the job is empathy and understanding.
I am not sure if perfectionism is the culprit here or not...let me run through an example. I went through a sewing craze (heck, it's clear to me now what this is...will keep going so you can see it too) and bought some great fabric and made a few things. They all got to 90% finished and got pushed aside. Then the excitement over sewing declined and a year later they are stored very neatly and organised, but unfinished. If I think about why I haven't finished them, it's because they aren't good enough to wear (I am a novice) and so there you have it - perfectionism rears it's head!!!
So my conclusion is perfectionism is the guilty party in this one, but no, I don't think my job negatively reinforces it.
If I pick other examples, I can see that boredom has a lot to do with it as well...
The one-two punch
I think boredom and perfectionism really do combine well to keep us procrastinating. We procrastinate on boring things because they're just not fun, and perfectionism keeps us procrastinating because we don't want to declare something finished and then find mistakes.
One of the things that works well for me is treating most things as drafts or approximations. I'm willing to say "this is a first effort" much more easily than "this is done." If the first effort meets with a good review, then it's cool. If the first effort is still flawed, it was just a first effort.
That doesn't help the boredom problem... which probably deserves some extra research of its own. Are there boring things you could automate or delegate in some way, to help them take up less of your time?
Sometimes I get started on something and I don't finish it. I think for me there can be multiple reasons...
1) I want it done "just right". Either I spend all the time working on some tiny little details and then get frustrated (and maybe quit) when I'm making very little progress or if I'm not sure what the "right" way to do something is I avoid it altogether.
2) I'm afraid of completing some tasks. If I do a good job (esp. at my job), I will be asked to do it more often or I will be given additional responsibilities or tasks that I don't really want.
3) Sometimes I just get bored or frustrated with something that seemed interesting when I started it. I guess this goes along with the first half of #1.
Been there, done that, I'll get the T-Shirt......... later
If there is a type of procrastination out there, I've experienced it. I get so overwhelmed, stuff just doesn't get done. I get so much on my plate, that the urgent pushes the important off onto the floor. I have "aw screw it, I don't want to." This even happens with things I want to do, especially big projects. What I find is that after I get started, the need to finish turns a "want to" :) into a "have to" :( and I don't want to anymore. :? The major other one I have is I can be a brat and I don't want to work, I just want to play. Then, I wind up beating myself up.
Unfortunately, I have no complete answers, but at least here I know I am not alone. Welcome and good luck.
Yeah, do that too...
I do have a bit of a rebellious streak ;)
"want to" versus "have to"
I think you're onto something with the "want to" versus "have to". I'm very big on what Emmett terms "rebellious procrastination". If I have to do it, I don't wanna do it!!!! It helps me a lot to correct my self-talk and say "I want to" versus "I have to" or "I should".
I also tend to take on more projects than I can comfortably handle at once, and then drop all the balls and finish none of them. I'm working on that.
My bigger problem is getting started. Usually if I start, I finish. Not always, though - I have some big projects that I've never finished. I do better when I can do something in a single sitting. If it involves scheduling multiple work sessions, I'm more likely not to finish it.
What's your pattern exactly? Big stuff? Small stuff?
Big stuff generally
I don't follow through on the big stuff. Work projects, home projects. Small stuff I am okay with. I think I'm like you, something in a single sitting is fine. Multiple steps trip me up on the last step.
I am an enthusiastic sort of person, so my natural enthusiasm often gets me going on large projects.
If I'm not keen on the task/project at all, then I switch to my 'not starting' procrastination. I'm getting better at that, tho, as my job is to teach people how to overcome it so I know some strategies. It's the finishing I have no strategies for overcoming.
I also liked the reference to 'want to' turning into a 'need to' and then becoming very unfavourable to me, that struck a chord, too.
following through on long-term projects
I think the reason I have trouble following through on projects that I can't complete in one sitting is that this requires scheduling time each day for the project, and I have difficulty with that level of organization because I have ADD. Not that I couldn't learn to do it - it's just hard for me.
One of the reasons I have trouble making a schedule - main reason - is that I'm so incessantly behind in stuff from my difficulty in getting started. I think that if I could get rid of my acute backlog (e.g. accounting, tax returns), that I could learn to make and stick to a schedule. But until I do these basic things, I feel I can't spend time on these other projects so they get put off.
what are your "getting started" strategies?
I need all the help I can get when it comes to getting started. How do you get yourself moving?
Okay, these are all things you can read pretty much anywhere (nothing groundbreaking), but they are the ones I use.
1. Visualisation. Visualise the task being completed and good it feels to have it off your list and out of your head.
2. Breaking it down into small steps (but not overanalysing, that's another form of procrastination)
3. Just pure willpower. Grit your teeth and say "I'm just going to do it, dammit!"
4. Using a timer to limit the amount of time you need to spend on something. Set it for 15 minutes and just think "I only need to spend 15 minutes on it, that's all - 15 minutes won't kill me" and then you'll find that 15 minutes gets you past the hardest bit and you have less trouble continuing (hey, maybe I should try that for my 'last steps' problem??)
5. Recognising excuses when you hear them in your head and playing devil's advocate. Tell yourself you're full of sh1t and you are just making more work for yourself if you listen to yourself make excuses (and more so, if you believe those excuses).
6. Eliminate distractions. Turn OFF that TV, take the phone off the hook, unplug your modem...whatever it takes.
7. Also think about the task as an abnormal cell. If left alone it turns to cancer, and the longer it is left without treatment the more it grows and the more dangerous it becomes. Get to your tasks before they turn into cancer. (that's a little melodramatic but it works!). If you like less dramatic analogies try keeping your molehills as just that so you don't have to climb over the mountain when it grows that big.
Hope this sparked something :)
I love it when people post strategies! I approach it like a game (I have trouble starting, and as for finishing I tend to get to 80 - 95% on big projects, then they 'rest' for a few weeks/months/years).
what a great list!
Thanks for posting this - very helpful!!
I'd like to move this to the front page somehow - not now, though. Need to pack for my trip.