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.

Reinforcing procrastination

I just posted a reply to Pro's bookending and it prompted this insight. We aren't doing ourselves any favours. We are constantly reinforcing our behaviour by rewarding it.

We reward ourselves for procrastinating. Pro was using TV as an excuse not to do something, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS BEING RECORDED! Pro, not meaning to single you out but I'm sure everyone does it :)

So, Pro was getting rewarded for procrastinating. And so what happens? Pro's first instinct next time will be to procrastinate because there is a payoff.

We need to change this behaviour pattern. We need to re-train ourselves to only play after work, and not play to get out of work.

So, I am logging off now and doing some work. I will be back in an hour. Probably on my own because it's 11am here and you are all in bed ;)

procrastination is inately rewarding!

Well, of course I reward myself when I procrastinate. Don't people usually procrastinate by doing something more fun than what they're supposed to be doing? :)

I've always had a problem with the "reward" strategy of anticrastination (opposite of procrastination) because I'm incapable of delaying rewards. As soon as I think of a reward, I want it instantly. Does that mean I'm childish? Maybe, but it's the truth!

One strategy I've found that DOES help, and that has gotten me to work on more than one occasion, is to focus on how I'll feel LATER, after having gotten the work done, or after NOT having gotten the work done. That's the reinforcement that I need to pay attention to.

Last night wasn't really a fair test of my anticrastination skills because it was 7pm when I started watching TV, and I had worked well all day. I had a very long "ta da" list. Maybe I shouldn't have had the expectation that I'd spend every waking hour working.


Yes, rewards won't work for you!!!!! (they aren't that great for me either, hence why they aren't on my list of strategies!). I am guessing they won't work for lots of procrastinators. Yes, procrastination is rewarding in the SHORT TERM. Maybe I should be suggesting we think about the long term???

I'm glad visualisation works for you, it does for me, too.

You make an excellent point about working all day yesterday. But your posts indicated a strong sense of incompleteness (which is why I tried to spur you on) BUT perhaps you should have been thinking "I have done lots of work today, I have acheived something, it's time to call it a day" and not "I'm going to watch House, which means I'm going to be up all night doing other things" which is just beating yourself up.

I will challenge you all to think about one other point (I love playing devil's advocate - I'm not really mean :P).

Did you really spend all day doing the things you should have been doing??? Could the dishes have waited while you made a start on a report? etc etc (I don't need you to justify yourself of course, I'm just throwing it out there as a consideration for all people and all circumstances, not your own).

It's lovely to have a big list of Ta-Das at the end of the day but if they were all low priority you are just settign yourself up for a fall tomorrow.

And it's nice to say that you overwork yourself and don't make time for play, but the }:) in me says well maybe there'd be more time to schedule play if the busywork was eliminated?????

Before you all want to lynch me, I'm just challenging us all (including myself because I do all these things too) to take a good hard look at ourselves. :)

Ooh I love a challenge!

I guess many procrastinators do, actually. Yesterday was one of my 'good days' so, yes, I did do the things I should have been doing (and unusually the dishes ~did~ wait, which I wasn't overjoyed about this morning, but now they're done!).

Rewards ~do~ work for me, but I think it's because I am able to reward myself with little things - stickers on the calendar and what not. I'm actually not very good of thinking of big rewards, and I have to think carefully about what I'm using as a reward. If it's books, for example, I know I'm just going to get them anyway, so there's no point in using books as a reward or else I'll be rewarding my procrastination, and ~that~ won't do!

So my challenge today is to finish the things I start - in fact I've got a biggie - to finish off my work at the College, so that's going to be my goal for today.

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I've not done it, and I'm not going to do it today. I've got a better plan. However, I'm not doing it ~because~ I've got a better plan - I procrastinated first then came up with an excuse that was actually better than what I had originally, so I'm sticking with it.

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actually, yes

Milo wrote:
> Did you really spend all day doing the things you should have been doing??? Could the dishes have waited while you made a start on a report? etc etc

You're right - the dishes could have waited, and actually this is a huge issue for me. I need to work on it. I spend so much time getting ready to work that there isn't enough time left to actually work.

Part of the difficulty is that I live and work at home, and it's a teeny, tiny apartment. Small apartments look like a wreck in no time flat if you aren't very neat. Also, I like to make up the futon from bed to couch so I feel more like I'm in an office than a bedroom. Sometimes I think I should go work in a coffee shop. I just found out that Balducci's (very close to my apartment) has free wireless internet in their upstairs seating area. I could work there. There's also free wifi at a nice coffee shop a little farther away, and at the Jefferson Market Library (very near the coffee shop, but with more limited hours).

If I left home to work, I wouldn't have to worry about cleaning up so I wasn't sitting in chaos. It's very hard for me to work in chaos. I know that some people who procrastinate also have problems with neatness and clutter, but not me. My apartment is very neat and clutter-free. Clutter drives me CRAZY!!!! My procrastination is always around stuff related to making a living, not housework.

I hear you...

I remember I used to joke with fellow students when I was studying that my (usually messy) house was always spotless at exam time because I used it as an excuse not to study! Even housework was an appealing distraction!!!! Your 'getting ready to work' is actually 'putting off working'. I do it, too (less these days, but I clearly remember it, still do it and still feel the pain of it).

It's good that you don't have lots of clutter. I noticed on your to-do list that you did 2 lots of dishes before lunch. Was the first your dinner dishes? The reason I ask is because if you have a routine (this is Flylady stuff) to get all that out of the way the night before, you can get up and go to Balducci's, knowing you're not leaving a disaster area to greet you when you get home. Same goes for preparing materials to take to the cafe the next day, create a 'launch pad'at your door and put everything there the night before to limit the amount of time you hang around at home in the morning.

Try to set yourself a time limit on your preparation to avoid perfectionism. Get up, get dressed, eat, do the dishes (if you must! I think it's a good idea if you don't spend all morning on it!) and then leave the apartment. I take my timer into the bathroom (I spend too much time on my hair and makeup, I'm a bit vain ;)) and give myself 10 minutes for each task - shower, hair, makeup. I invariably go a little over (after all, I can't stop if the timer goes off and I have one eye made up and not the other!!!), but it keeps me aware of how long I'm taking.

Working for yourself, especially at home, is really hard. I think going to the cafe is a brilliant idea that you should try asap!!!

Sorry, I 'talk' too much....! I'll stop now!

Keep talking!

I find there are two main prongs to the approach on this board that work well for me 1) analyis of the problem and possible solutions (in the articles, insights forum, and in what you're offering here); and 2) day-to-day support in the Bookending section.

I, for one, need both.

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Ha ha - be careful what you wish for - I don't stop once I get going!!!!!! :D

Scheduling and rewards

You're right, pro -- you shouldn't expect that you'll spend all your time working. All work and no play makes us all dull people.

One of my current tactics which is working well is to make sure to spend the morning working. Work first, play later -- but "later" is defined.

That way, I have the scheduled play time to look forward to, and working becomes just a matter of staying busy and getting to that time. If our play time is guaranteed, we shouldn't feel like we have to play right now in order to get some fun.



There is definitely a lot of truth to this... but be sure to leave some time to play after work. It is easy for me to get in a pattern of working constantly and never taking any time off. I tell myself that there will be lots of long-term rewards if I work hard and get everything done, but I don't really enjoy my life in the meantime. Then I get all tired and start taking time off and refusing to work on anything at all. After completely wasting several (or more) days doing NOTHING, then I get panicked and start working constantly again.

exactly - you can't schedule every waking minute for work!

I think this is right. I'd been working since I got up in the morning (and I'd gotten up early). I had a long ta-da list, and it was 7pm. I deserved to take a few hours for myself before bed.

What's sad is that I beat myself up for doing this - characterized it as procrastination instead of letting myself fully enjoy it.

Yes, I agree

I just mentioned on another post about you beating yourself up.

We need to be kinder on ourselves at times and tougher at other times (like when our brat wants to play when we haven't acheived our necessary To-Dos yet).

Lots to think about

We need to re-train ourselves to only play after work

I don't - I'm currently training myself to play at all! I was doing like pro and trying to make myself work all the time - I couldn't play until after the work, and the work was never ending ergo I never played. I'm using the 'play time' as my reward.

Pro I read all your posts from yesterday in one go, and I thought you'd had a fantastically productive day - I could hardly believe it when you gave yourself a hard time about what you ~hadn't~ done - I thought I must've missed a day somewhere. It's all very well planning to start, but you need to plan to stop too!

I'm slowly re-adjusting my schedule so I can work from 9.00 or 10 to about 8, with an hour's homework before I start work, and it's fabulous having those few extra hours in the evening. DSO came home last night to find me sitting in a chair - not at the desk, not in the kitchen, just on a chair reading - and he asked '~What~ are you doing?' He's just not used to seeing me chilling out! And I didn't feel guilty either.

So the lesson for me is to work during work-time, and play during play-time, to make sure I've got both in my day, and that I'm clear about when each is going to happen!

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