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.

An insight and a question

Well, this is the Questions, Answers, and Insights forum, so I thought I'd share an insight, ask a few questions, and see if I get any answers!

I was about to post this on the Bookending thread, and thought it might be more appropriate here:

[I'd been saying that I had been procrastinating, and still am...]

although I'm not sure it can technically be called 'procrastinating' on a day off. I'm certainly putting things off, but they're not things that ~need~ to be done today. I'm half toying with the idea that I'm trying to escape thinking about something I don't want to think about (I was in a bad mood that felt unnecessary, so I'm reading a book I enjoy and it's put me in a much better mood), but if that's the case then I could just as easily work to avoid the negative thoughts that got me in the bad mood. Hmm, maybe it's a ~punishment~ - maybe, in putting things off, I'm making things harder for myself next week as a punishment for having negative thoughts? I wouldn't put it past me.


So my questions are: How can I tell if it's destructive behaviour, or if I'm just being spontaneous and taking the evening off? If it ~is~ destructive, how can I change it? (and even, 'do procrastinators always have to make such a big deal of taking time out?' LOL!). Hoping someone here can see through one of my blind spots, or has overcome a similar experience.

only you know if it's destructive

You are the only one who can evaluate if you have things that need doing now, or if what you must need to do most right now is relax! Taking time off to refresh yourself is important.


Like I said, there was nothing that ~needed~ to be done on Sunday that I hadn't done, but I had ~planned~ on doing stuff then didn't do it. I'm conscious that one of my procrastination tricks is to plead 'I need to relax!', and wondered if anyone had worked out a way of figuring if it a a real need, or if it's a procrastination trick. I haven't, which is why I can't evaluate it.

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I dunno...

I still don't see how anyone can evaluate this but you. I know when I need to be doing something, and when I've done enough and what I need most is to relax. But I couldn't evaluate that for anyone else. There's no rule of thumb - it's just how you choose to live your life. What kind of lifestyle do you want? What do you value?

Try reading "First Things First" by Stephen Covey. This helped me a great deal in figuring out what was important to me. I wrote a Personal Mission Statement as suggested in this book, and it guides my decisions on things such as this.

Done that

I was looking for support and encouragement pro. I've got as far as I can in exploring this for myself, and I know I have blind spots. The only way I can become conscious of them is to ask if anyone else can see them. It's often the people who have been there already and found a way to deal with it who can do that, which is why I asked here. For example, Milo's post was helpful because it help me see a link I hadn't noticed before - that's the sort of feedback that other people can give to help me work with this.

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sorry I wasn't helpful

I guess, as you said, it's the people who've "been there" who can help. This isn't a procrastination issue (Lord knows I've experienced all forms of THAT), and I haven't experienced it. If my work is done and I can relax without worry or guilt, I'm happy to do it!! It's just so rare that my work is done.

It is for me (or may be)

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All I can say is that I could well have written that post - I have the same thoughts.

I'm not sure this is useful, but if you just use your planner and your master list you will soon see a pattern. If you are constantly putting things in your schedule to do and not doing them, there is a red flag. If they are things that you could do today but don't have to, that's just taking a break. That's what helps me - I clearly divide my must do's with my should do's. I should clean the grout in my bathroom floor because it's a bit grotty, but unless my mum is coming to stay, or I'm having a dinner party, or it's growing fur, I don't NEED to do it. However, I really NEED to return those library books, pay that bill etc.

So don't beat yourself up over the should do's - concentrate on the must do's. If you do the Shoulds that's great, but not at the expense of your Musts. And if you have no Musts and just Shoulds, by all means don't feel guilty about taking a break! (oh, remember that Shoulds often turn into Musts, so you'll get to them eventually!)

Hope that makes sense....

Finally, on the destructive side of things, don't over-analyse, you'll just get yourself in one of those unecessary moods. Any procrastination is self-descructive, really ;)

Thanks Milo

If I look at it from that point of view, I'd done all my 'musts' for the day so I was taking a break, not procrastinating. I wasn't actually feeling guilty, so I wonder if that's another clue as to whether I'm procrastinating or not? I used to always feel guilty when I took a break, and now I can take planned breaks without feeling guilty, but I think this was my first spontaneous one without feeling guilty - perhaps that's why it felt different?

Thanks, it's been helpful having someone to muse over this one with - I hadn't spotted the 'unplanned break/not guilty' link before I started thinking of it in the way you suggested.

Anyone else got comments/different viewpoints etc? I'm quite enjoying this - I feel like I'm decluttering a dark and neglected little corner in my mind :D

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Same issue

Hi Normy - you have good questions :)
I have had the exact same questions. After much research and soul searching, I have learned that it is of no use to feel guilty about doing/not doing a particular task. Regardless of how I feel about it, it either gets done, or doesn't. What I have been doing is being confident in my ability to know that I need to relax. So when I start relaxing, I don't even go to the guilty area of not doing something on my list. I studied highly productive people and learned that they could always be doing something too; however, they play when it's time to play. I'm learning to do this - being confident that relaxing and playing is very important to my productivity and that I do not have to be doing 'shoulds' all day.

Thanks tl

Yes, I guess that's one of the things that's making it unclear for me - there ~is~ always something that needs doing. It was interesting to see what you had to say about productive people. I've got the hang on a day-to-day basis of doing or not doing things that always need to be done. For example, housework is done at particular times, not any time during the day, otherwise I can use it as a form of procrastination. There's housework-time and not-housework-time. I could do with making my not-working-at-all-times clearer. It's a new situation to me - I never used to get to the end of my list so the issue didn't arise.

I think what's happened is that the list I had could just as easily have been a 'Monday' list as none of it needed to be 'Sunday', and I was just thinking of it as a 'next-job' list. I suspect I don't quite trust myself to manage a big list like that responsibly, and just assume that if I don't Do It Now I must be procrastinating.

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pro - please delet this - i posted twice :)

pro - please delet this - i posted twice :)

dupe gone