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.

Leaving the House

Hi all,

I'm new here. I found the site after a lengthy session of googling around procrastination - which of course was to avoid doing the work I need to complete before I fly out of the country later this afternoon, which is why I'm up now at 5.30am instead of asleep like a sane person.

I have identified so strongly with what I've read here. First of all, that procrastination isn't a time-management problem, but an addiction. My form of it is partly to do with deadlines (Like Douglas Adams, I "like the whooshing sound as they go by"), which I seem to get a kick out of missing - especially if I get away with it.

The other big problem I have is with sleep and mornings. I'm not sure whether the sleep problem gives rise to the procrastination or if the procrastination causes the sleep problem, but I seldom go to bed at a sensible time, with the result that I am invariably late for work the next (or usually the same) day.

It's not that I sleep through alarms exactly, but I do seem to have a different personality when it's time to get up. I stay up doing nothing much until I am absolutely dog-tired at, say, 3am. I set the alarm; I wake up at the right time, and even knowing that I shouldn't do it, I hit the alarm off, and go back to bed for another hour or more. Even when I'm already late, an hour or more, I can sit with the computer for another hour before managing to shower and leave the house to go to the office. I think it must be more a procrastination problem since if something really important is happening for which I mustn't be late at all costs, I usually manage to get up for that (so long as it's only a one or at most two-day event).

Clearly, I'm not going to find out why I am this way, and it may not help, but I wonder if anyone else has this problem that they can't seem to face up to leaving the house. I feel almost a physical inability to do it: the muscles in my legs tense up as if to resist movement when I tell myself it's time to go...

I'm doing this now

I was planning on being at payroll work 11 mins ago, and I'm procrastinating leaving the house. I started off with a positive frame of mind this morning, but got all procrastinaty when I came online to CUOP. I did used to come here sometimes to get myself out of procrastination mode, but I don't think I've ended up procrastinating as a result of being here in the past. I'll have to figure out how to nip it in the bud.

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yesterday's posts

Don't beat yourself up. Yesterday was particularly interesting, post-wise, I think. Probably you came here expecting to spend x amount of time and it just took longer. There was more posting than usual. I don't think you were using the site purposely to procrastinate.

I didn't even CUOP

I was just reading the articles - I haven't even looked at the Bookends. On this occasion I was ~definitely~ procrastinating as I was supposed to be going to work!

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I posted three articles over the weekend

Did you see the new articles on this site? I wrote two, and republished one from another site (with permission, of course).

I know!

Three interesting things to catch up on at once, LOL!

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Why are you not going to bed?

Assuming that your habit of turning off the alarm and going to bed is due to still being tired... Do you have any ideas why you aren't going to bed at a "sensible" hour?

Are you trying to make sure you're tired before you go to bed, or are you falling victim to some sort of time binge that keeps you up later and later?

I agree with Milo that you might want to consider issues beyond procrastination. Do you get much physical exercise? When I got regular vigorous exercise, I slept much better -- and I woke up refreshed in the mornings. Think about exercise and nutrition to make sure your physical and mental energy levels are right.


Staying up late etc

Hi projoy, welcome! :)

sleep problem gives rise to the procrastination or if the procrastination causes the sleep problem

I think it's a bit of both - I had it too, and still have a tendency towards it if I'm not careful. I would realise it was time to go to bed when I heard the dawn chorus. It took me a couple of months of making adjustments to get myself to bed at a decent hour. I had to change my whole way of thinking. 11 pm used to sound ridiculously early to be going to bed, now it sounds normal. I had to work backwards from the time I wanted to go to bed and work out a routine for getting myself ready (and prepared for the next day). I had to force myself off the computer using auto shutdown. I even have lights timed to go off. Of course, I can override them if I really need to, but I try not to do that. Changing sleeping time isn't simple, but in my case it's been worth it. I was astonished to find out how much I could achieve in the morning when I woke up on time, well-rested. I don't think of myself as a 'morning person' but after a short initial zombie period I'm fine.

I also don't like going out of the house and again I use tricks to get me out. One is arranging to go with someone else (e.g. if I can I go shopping with DSO), and one I've tried a couple of times lately is a breakfast with a friend which a) gets me up, and b) gets me out of the house (and I'm driven out by hunger so I can't be too late!). Once I'm out I'm then able to run errands which I would normally have put off. It's the transition from indoors to outdoors that's the problem for me - even if it's something I want to do (I don't seem to have a problem going the other way).

If you come up with any other tips and tricks let me know. I've done really well with addressing chronic lateness this year, but there's still room for improvement!

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the staying up late thing

Hi projoy - welcome! I've done the staying up late thing, and it made my life hell for a while. I don't know why I did it. I kept staying up later and later, then sleeping later and later, until my hours were all but reversed. That made me feel depressed - getting up at noon or later is a real bummer - and being depressed made me even less efficient.

Based on my own experience, I'd suggest that the thing you should tackle first is regular hours. Make yourself go to bed even if you're not tired, and make yourself get up even if you're still sleepy. When you get your hours back on track, you will feel worlds better, and then you can work on other stuff more easily.

I identify with the deadline thing, too. I can't seem to meet a deadline to save my life (or couldn't, while I was still working as an editor and writer). And I have also done like you and gotten up before dawn to do things I should have done the previous day.

Basically, you should feel right at home here! :) If Milo thinks you need psychological help, then I guess I do, too. Or maybe neither of us do because I'm doing a lot better and I've had only this forum. I think you can do better, too. Only you know if you need a psychologist, but I don't think you necessarily do.

Hell? Hm...

I think part of the trouble for me is that I can be pretty productive late at night, even tho sometimes I use the time to procrastinate also. In a way, late nights are something I've relied on through my life as the only time in the day where I feel like I can get things done without interruptions. In a way, it would suit me if I could always stay up late. But not many jobs in my field that work that way, unfortunately. Freelancing is a temptation, but then there's that whole self-motivation problem to tackle!

Psych help

That's just an idea, pro - I don't know everything!!!!!

I just thought that counselling could help - I'm sure it could help all of us, really. I didn't think it was compulsary for projoy :)

Head space..

Hi projoy,

Have you seen a psychologist or a counsellor? Sounds like you have pychological barriers here. Sure, the stuff you identified early in your post was classic procrastination that we are all familiar with, but when you say you almost get physical resistance from your body lends me to think that you are having a form of an anxiety attack.

Do you think it's fear of facing what you haven't done? Fear of facing your colleagues/boss when you come in an hour late, or miss a deadline? I am prone to feelings of utter panic when I realise I've let someone down.

On the sleep, you are procrastinating on going to bed, which means you don't get enough sleep and therefore can't get up - that one is simple!!!


I certainly think it's fear of facing people knowing that I've failed them in some way. And the later I wake up, the worse the guilt is, and the more I want to just stay home and avoid the whole issue. There is an element of panic in there, and certainly defenciveness. I've certainly had to tell my boss that there is something wrong with my sleeping pattern (otherwise it would constantly be an issue).

The sleep thing is maybe simple to diagnose, but I've been doing it now since about the age of eight (reading books under the covers until 3am), so could be kind of a tough habit to shift. I have also had the problem more recently that I have a hobby (amdram) where I go out and stay up late, so I don't get home until midnight, and by then I'm fully attentive and awake because of the activity. (I've taken to scheduling to work from home on Thursdays because there are rehearsals Weds night since I can almost guarantee to oversleep!). Anyway, I'm giving amdram up for a while in the Autumn, so hopefully that should help things settle down.

Thanks to everyone for the welcome!

are you depressed?

Your description sounds like depression. Depression can cause sleeping problems, and can make it nearly impossible to get anything done. Do you think you may be depressed?

Mm. Maybe.

I do get depression sometimes, especially in the Winter. But at the moment it's not as if I feel especially bad.

The giveaway for me is that I remain pretty motivated on my hobby projects. If I were really depressed I kind of suspect that I might also find them hard to deal with too (e.g. I recently directed a play, which, although stressful, certainly didn't defeat me, and although I delegated quite a few responsibilities this time around, I certainly got after things and achieved them within reasonable timescales, in just the way I don't at work).

So maybe it's some sort of low-level depression, but clearly not the massively debilitating nervous-breakdown type. :) I could try to claim that I have "work-only depression", but I'm not sure I'd even convince myself!

sleep and depression

I was the same with sleep until recently. I still have a tendency to want to stay up late. It took a couple of months of adjustments to get to the point where I fit in better with the world around me. I discovered that the sleep problems were part of the cause of a low level of depression, and if I start messing with my sleep patterns again I start to feel down, and it's now obvious that, for me, there's a link.

As for the night-time being undisturbed, I valued that too, but I discovered that there's a time at the other end of the day where people tend not to disturb me too. The phone never rings before 9 am (except for urgent things I'd want to know about anyway, like cancelled clients), so I've got uninterrupted time at the beginning of the day instead.

As for feeling down in winter, I'm better when I get more sunlight, so it makes sense not to be asleep when the sun is up. I do miss the night-time in the summer though - I just love the moon and starry nights.

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The Lark Solution

That sounds great, but what do you if you have to go out in the evening? I find that if I get to bed after, say, 12.30, then I'm going to find it hard to get up in the morning, and that can start off the drift...

The Lark Solution

I still try to get up at my normal time, otherwise I quickly go out of synch again. I have a range of times that I call 'normal' from 6.45 to 8.00 am, though I usually aim for between 7 and 7.20, so if I'm not in bed until 12.30 it's OK. (I know some people wouldn't call this particularly early, but remember I regularly used to go to bed at 3, 4, or 5 am so it sounds early to me!). If I'm in bed later than about 12.30 then I'm going to be tired next day, but I soon get back on track, and it's better than getting out of synch again.

I used to regularly work strange hours and couldn't get enough sleep at night, so I trained myself to do 20 min naps in the afternoon. At first I just lay there and couldn't sleep, but I continued to do it and eventually my body got the message. If it did longer than 20-30 mins I'd wake up feeling really groggy though, and if I did it after about 3pm I couldn't sleep that night.

I did seriously consider teaching night classes at one point (as in 'middle of the night' LOL!), but I don't think there would be enough demand for me to make a living (plus there'd be a problem hiring premises).
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