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.

New Intro & Questions!!

Hello everyone! 

This turned out to be really long so please feel free to skip to the questions at the bottom!! 

I have been reading the info and the check-in forum on PA for the past few days… I am a chronic procrastinator, I suppose I have known this for a very long time and I feel like I have been fighting this demon for at least 15 years (about half of my precious life on this Earth!!) I used to think that I only procrastinated in one area of my life (paper/financial stuff) but I now know that it is everywhere…I just manage to hide it as best I can from others. In fact I procrastinate so much that at this point I don’t even know when I am not procrastinating because it feels like every “busy” task I do (and I am VERY busy) is to procrastinate for another task and there is no end to this domino effect. I don’t know how to make sense of it all. I don’t even know where to begin with my To Do List.

So over the years, I have been in psychotherapy (this is a medium that works well for me) a few times for different reasons and two big themes that never go away are:

1- My “boxes of stuff/paper” (represent the procrastination that I am not willing to let go of) that take up all my mental and emotional energy.

2- A highly critical, anxious, self-centered parent who continues to try to control me in reality (even though I am now thirty something) and in my internalized inner voices (irrational beliefs that keep me stuck).

In terms of the procrastination, I have done all the reading, researching, workbooks, journaling, setting up goals and to do lists (re-writing these multiple times),writing values and mission statements to the point of using these so called self-help tasks to procrastinate even more. It feels like procrastination is octopus type monster with multiple arms that keep showing up and regenerating when you think that you have managed to cut one off.

The guilt and shame that I feel about my procrastination is weighing heavily on my shoulders even tying me down with chains and it is eating me up inside. I feel that I am a terrible person and that I don’t deserve ANYTHING in life to the point that I don’t even deposit my paychecks and just let them sit around let alone deserving to be happy. On the outside though, I look like a different person and I am outgoing, have lots of activities and a few great relationships that I have managed to maintain throughout all of this (one of them even knows about my inner battles and continues to stick around). I am able to say that about my life because I can “see” it or people tell me what a great life I have but I don’t “feel” it since it seems like I am watching my life go by without me…

I guess this is me in a nutshell (bit longer than expected and still would have lots more to say). So I am joining this group now because I have been feeling pretty helpless over the past few weeks and feeling like death would probably be a relief from all of this. (I am not suicidal here but it is the only way I can describe this). I am sick of pretending, sick of being stuck yet am still choosing to procrastinate away and I feel like I have tried all the tools I could think of…the self-help books don’t even give me a little high like they used to (even though this was a trap, it was some hope…). All this is unusual for me as I am a positive person in general and have always had faith in LIFE and the fact that in the end everything happens for a reason. I am starting to doubt…and I have no trust in my ability to keep ANY promise with myself as I have overdrawn this emotional bank account many times over and am now scared to death to set even the smallest daily goal.

I suppose this is a last attempt at getting freedom from the chains and I guess if I am joining this group I must have some hope left!!! 

So I have a few questions:

1-       How can the check-in/daily to-do-list work since making lists for me has always been a trap; a setup for failure? I get lost in them and get quickly overwhelmed or just spend all my time re-writing them.

2-      How do I know that the tasks I do are not more procrastination? I have started tasks before that had to be completed only to realize later that I was procrastinating most of the time. (Anything can turn into procrastination. Help!!!!)

3-      If this is an addiction (I believe it is) and not a time management problem, why is it important to plan our time down to every minute? How to not fall in traps because I have tried time logging/ planning etc in the past and again spend all of my time on organizing the “perfect” system.

4-      If I have no ability to keep a promise with myself, how can I even think of setting one MIT? 

5-      I think that I have severe “demand-resistance” issues; any more info available on this topic other than article in that section?

6-      Finally what does the “backlog” refer to? 


Follow-Up from takeachance!

Thank you so much for all of your help in answering my questions and for the great welcome!

I have been reading about the book Too Perfect and it looks like I will recognize myself like you all did. I am a little scared to get another book as one of my problems is that I read a lot and get tons of insight on my "problem" but then don't do anything about it. I ordered it at the local bookstore and will decide when it comes in...

I definitely believe that I have severe demand resistance. I fit the profile and it explains my pattern on procrastinating. Will try the "I choose" approach.

As for the rest, I can relate almost too much to all of what you guys are describing out there and now I am more scared than ever. I feel pretty overwhelmed like the mountain to climb is much taller than Mount Everest and I am not in shape to attempt this climb.

Am still scared to post on the Check-In forum...

I guess I am scared because on one hand it is VERY helpful to know that I am not alone in this but on the other hand I realize that I already have been "using" this website to procrastinate!

It feels like a hopeless disease...everything turns to procrastination.

Take a chance

Welcome and some resources for inspiring you

Hey takeachance. Welcome to the forums. First of all, this is a really helpful place so come and participate as often as you can - I've always found it helpful.

Secondly, it's ok to be scared and yes you're not alone on this. Probably the biggest thing you can realise is that it's gonna take years, not months, to really change. I always tend to forget that I had been procrastinating for 20 years before I even started to think about changing. It's naive and, frankly, silly of me to think that things will change in a few months, or even 1 year. Despite what we may see in movies people don't just change instantly based on one piece of advice or one moment in their life (note though that I love movies and I do believe that stories like that can give us the push start and vision to change) - all of us here can testify to that. You'll get moments where you think you've finally changed and then you'll come crashing down. This is not only normal but a necessary requirement for change. The key is to realise you're in a marathon, not a sprint. Slow, sure steps are best.

Whilst this is a long term, gradual change that's not to say that you won't experience some of the benefits of changing today, tomorrow and in the short term. It'll just be in brief sparks. For me these moments provide inspiration for when I feel down: I look back to these moments to see that "I CAN do it - I've done it before!".

Here are some resources that I've found helpful: you don't need to read them all at once, or even at all. They're just there if you want to read an article one day ok mate? This is in no way an exhaustive list of all my inspirational material - there's always new stuff. You'll discover a lot of inspiration online and through the people you love in your life. If you're looking for some inspirational material I always find it useful to think of your heroes (sporting or otherwise) and read about how about them.

- (bit cheesy maybe but he's my favourite movie character!)

You'll experience lots of ups and downs but if you have a deep desire to change I believe that, in time, you will. Good luck. Hope to hear from you soon! Remember to smile!

Thxs Steven & need to slow down procrastination

Thank you Steven for the support and the links.

It is helpful to remind myself that this will take years...In a weird way it allows me for just a minute to not feel so overwhelmed if I stop to put the pressure on myself to "solve" this procrastination problem in the next year. (I tend to go back to this illusion even though I know better).

I am also realizing that what is stressing me out the most is that I still feel like I am free falling and unable to even slow down the destructive procrastination habbit in my life. Being aware of what is going on, I realize that I am adding to the mountain of "backlog" every minute of the day. That is why it feels so impossible to see a solution.

I guess I need to focus on just slowing down the daily procrastination habit before I deal with my backlog otherwise it is like a never ending cycle and my efforts feel useless.

Have a great day!!

I have an absolute mountain

I have an absolute mountain of backlog too. I don't claim this to be the best solution, but for the last week or so I've just decided to start afresh. I started a whole new to-do list based on things that came up on that day, and have continued from there, not worrying about the past to dos.

I'm also trying to be a lot stricter on what I choose to do. Not every thing I partake in needs to be a massive, life-long, life-changing project. But on the other hand, there are a lot of stuff that are not worth my time.

I hope you can stay strong and see this through. The weather always helps me too, and it's 29c here in UK, Norfolk! Enjoy the sunshine guys.

Hey Steven

Thanks for the links.

Hey, are you the same Steve from the DIT & TheNowHabit groups?

How many other groups are we on!?!

Sorry, I don't participate

Sorry, I don't participate in the DIT & TheNowHabit groups.

More on "Demand Resistance"

To my understanding, there are two things:
1) "Demand Sensitivity"
2) "Demand Resistance"

Explanations are given at these links:

The concepts are described in the book "Too Perfect" which is reviewed here:

"Demand Sensitivity" is when you perceive any suggestion or comment (even one from yourself) as being a demand.

If someone says "The sky is very blue today", a demand sensitive response would be to perceive that comment as a DEMAND that you turn off the computer and go outside.

In reality, the person who said that the sky was very blue -- she may have been thinking about what colors she was going to use in her next art class. But you perceived a demand emanating from her.

Another example of "demand sensitivity":  If you see a pile of dishes in the sink, you perceive this observation as a DEMAND from the dishes that they be washed.  The dishes aren't screaming to be washed, but you feel as if they are.

"Demand Sensitivity" is that lingering feeling that the Universe, Your Own Self, or Other People are DEMANDING that you DO something.  (even if they really aren't).  You are overly SENSITIVE to what other people (or yourself) say, and therefore see demands everywhere.

"Demand Resistance" is a resistance to any demand.... whether it is a real demand, or a falsely perceived demand.

It's that feeling you get when you want to say "You can't make me do that! Nobody tells me what to do! I want to do what I want to do! You're not the boss of me!"

The interesting thing is that we are often demand resistant to our own ideas.

This especially happens when saying "I ought to do the dishes." or "I should do the dishes." or "I must do the dishes." or "I have to do the dishes". Those words "ought to", "should", "must", and "have to" .... feel like demands. So we resist those demands.

Certain words, such as “list”,  “responsibility”,  “accountability”, and “challenge” made me want to run screaming from the room!

I resisted challenges, lists, anything that implied something I had to do.

I finally learned to say "I CHOOSE to do the dishes". Somehow, CHOOSING is self-empowering to me. I can CHOOSE to pick up the trash. I don't have to do it, but I can CHOOSE to do it.

Note that some of the books and online websites on these concepts suggest saying "I want to" (instead of "I have to" or "I should"). That never worked for me ... because I really did NOT want to do the Terribly Intimidating Paperwork. And saying "I want to do the paperwork" was a bunch of baloney and I don't like that.

So I have found that regardless of whether I "want" to do the paperwork or not .... I can CHOOSE to do it. And that makes all the difference for me.

Welcome takeachance!

It helps me to know I am not alone with this struggle. That's the main benefit of the daily check-ins. Despite 28 years of working the 12 Steps successfully on other problems, I had no one with whom to confide this nasty little secret that was destroying my life. I check in to help myself heal from the shame, by sharing honestly with others who understand. Some days I share what's stopping me today. Other days I share what's working today. It really helps to take it one day at a time.

I started by admitting that I've exhausted every possibility for overcoming procrastination, and remain powerless to stop doing it. Regardless of my feelings and apparently without my permission, I somehow was dealt a body that cannot stand the stress that procrastination causes me, and a mind that can't stop trying to get away with it anyway. That wicked combination makes my life unmanageable.

My only hope is to find a Power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity. Many people start by considering the group as their Higher Power (Group Of Desperados!). Keep coming back and sharing. We all help each other here.

hi takeachance!

Good to have you, you're in the right place!

I definitely relate (particularly to the not depositing paychecks, I still have trouble with that, I put it off for weeks because I feel like I haven't really earned the money).

I can't answer all of your questions, but here are some thoughts on the first 4.

1) I agree that to-do lists can get overwhelming/counterproductive. So you can use the check-in board for one task at a time, if you like. That's what I use it for on days when I'm having a tough time. Just post "I'm going to wash the dishes and check back in 20 min" or something like that. This helps me get moving--I feel more accountable if I've publically committed to something. It might help you too. 

2) It's really hard to tell what's procrastination and what isn't.  You might try asking a friend, or asking other people on the check-in board. We're always happy to help!
You could also try to be aware of what general categories of tasks you tend to use for procrastination, and which tasks you tend to especially avoid. (For example, for me errands and cleaning are sometimes tempting ways to procrastinate; I use them to escape paperwork/financial stuff). 

3)I don't think it's important to plan your time down to every minute.
In fact, since you feel like you're being controlled and get very frustrated with that, for you this would probably be counterproductive!
This board has a mix of people: some people for whom procrastination is an addiction, some people with time management/organizational problems, and some people with both. Different strategies work for different people. Some people plan their time down to every minute, others just set a few MITs each day.
For you, the 12 steps might be more helpful that yet another time management can check out the 12 step meetings in our chatbox.

4)Keeping promises to yourself is something you can practice! Maybe start with a small, not-too-scary task and promise to do that. (For example, I'll often work with a timer, and commit to working on paperwork for 5 or 10 minutes). Once that seems doable, you can do more. 

Hope this helps, glad you're here! 

Welcome Takeachance!

You are in the right place and you have taken the first step by posting this introduction!

I'm not sure I have the answers to all your questions, and I'm still learning a lot myself but I'll try to answer a couple of them:

A good book for info on demand resistance is Too Perfect:  When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeannette DeWyze.

The backlog is all those “boxes of stuff/paper” and/or all the stuff you should/need to do.

Checking in helps me because it gives me some non-judgemental accountability, and lots and lots of support from all the great people here!   Start out by posting a task that you want to work on, then post again with your progress, or non-progress as the case may be.  Writing out how you feel as you're trying to complete a task really does help in many ways. 

Finally, although it is not necessary to do the 12 Steps in order to be a member of this great forum, my suggestion would be to make a serious attempt to do Step 1.  I feel sure you'll find yourself in a better place if you do.  That is totally your choice of course. 

Good luck, and keep posting!


"In our minds, we seek to be divine; but in our hearts, we know it's party time." - Rondo Bros in Aquarium Dreams


12 Steps

Hi Journey!

Thank you for your support!! Will look into this book.

For the 12 not familiar with them but I have been reading some info over the past week. Not sure I understand what it means to "do step 1"? Does it mean to read about it and try to understand, interpret it as best I can? How am I supposed to go about this?

Take a chance



Step 1

You can read "the big book" online and that will probably explain it better than I ever could!  Just substitute "compulsive procrastination" for "alcohol" when you read about it.

But, basically, Step 1. is admitting that we are powerless over our compulsive procrastination and Step 2. is believing that a power greater than ourselves can help us.

There's no "magic pill" to fix our procrastination problem, but I know that once I stopped pretending that I was doing ok and admitted to myself, my HP, and other people that I couldn't fix things all by myself and needed help, things have begun to turn around for me. 


"In our minds, we seek to be divine; but in our hearts, we know it's party time." - Rondo Bros in Aquarium Dreams