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.

The Remaining Minutes Factor

Some friends of mine have procrastination issues too, although none as virulent as mine. But we've been discussing the issues and one of the things that came up is that we aren't late because we don't understand time, exactly. It's more subtle than that. We actually have a very keen sense of time. So much so that we can almost subconsciously whittle down the amount of time we allot for a task so that it comes in under the wire every time. We call this the "Remaining Minutes" factor.

We've noticed that somehow we have a running time clock that reallly understands how many minutes there are to do the job, and how much longer it is likely to take, but we refuse to finish ahead of time, instead, doing anything BUT the task at hand up until the last possible minute before we sense that we won't make it within an acceptable time.

I really notice this when it comes to getting places on time. For some ridiculous reason I don't arrive early anywhere, and I've done impossible things like run to catch buses on a trip across town to catch a ferry with just 2 minutes to spare, because I sort of somehow knew I had just enough time to do that. Where it goes wrong is when outside factors intervene and buses don't come, or hard drives crash or something.

I just think it's a funny insight--to think of myself as an expert on time rather than an utter dolt. Then it becomes a choice to behave that way or not. That is, IF I use effort to get out of whatever addictive, obliterating 'time bingeing' behavior I'm in and try to have awareness about what I'm doing.

Gnothi Seauton ~ Know Thyself

"Found" time

One of the things my mother taught me to do well was "wait". She called it "found time". As a wife and mother, there are many minutes used up in chauffeurring family members around which creates much waiting and many tussles to get people where they need to be on time. So there are 'jobs' that can be carried along and done during those minutes. Most of these 'jobs' are not of high priority and may not ever get done otherwise. I have learned to enjoy the moments when I can relax and do them because NOTHING else can be done! This has meant that being late has never been a major issue for me. Nearly everything else in my life..... that is another post for another day. ;)

How to use 'found' time

I don't seem to have that many jobs that are very portable though. I do carry a book with me, but standing around under a lamppost to read on a cold, dark night waiting for an appointment doesn't appeal. I could get wherever I'm going early and go for a walk, but that doesn't appeal to the part of me that likes to be pragmatic. I did turn up early for a meal the other day, and just sat looking out of the window waiting for others to turn up (I only had a tiny purse/wallet with my money, so no book). FlyLady talks about using the Office In a Bag to pay bills - my bills are on automatic payment (thank goodness).

Have you got any other ideas, edium? Things that are probably obvious to you are a mystery to me! TIA.


Prepare to find time

Good points, Normy.
"but standing around under a lamppost to read on a cold, dark night waiting for an appointment doesn't appeal."
I simply WON'T comment further on that... :O :)

Some of the things I do with found time (after read a book)
*Crochet (need small bag of goodies)
*knit ( need large bag of goodies)
*Tat ( need a pocket to keep goodies in!)
*think and make notes to self, plan menus etc. (need a pocket or 'fanny pack' with paper & pen)
*Eavesdrop on strangers conversations and see what you learn!
*Count different types of flora or fauna you can see and resolve to go look up any you aren't familiar with.
*"catch 20 winks" (hey you're probably in public and can't sleep long or deeply!)
*Write cards, notes, etc. (need a small notebook with cards and envelopes )
*Whittle something (small very sharp penknife and piece of wood or stick. I knew a guy who almost had a whole chess set completed this way. Much easier to do in public places before Sept. 11,2001)
*Start this decades "Great Novel" in your head (need a brain and a big imagination):) ;)
*And if you don't want to walk around the block, there's always isometric exercises.
I'm sure you can come up with a few of your own.... ;)

LOL Edium!

Exactly! I don't want people to get the wrong impression!

The problem is that if I'm aiming to get early to an appointment where there is no waiting room, where do I wait? If there ~is~ a waiting room there isn't (theoretically) a problem - I've got things I can do, it's just where to do them.

I wonder what people who aren't chronicly (sp?) late do?


Sorry I'm late ;-) ... replying, Normy.

Okay. I finally get the circumstance you are referring to, and that it is more frequent for you than I have dealt with. So I will have to let you in on the deep silent secret of the 'patient waiter'........ You almost close your eyes, so that you can barely see enough that you will notice a change in your 'safety zone' environment, take regular, comfortable breaths, lean on something or sit if you can, .....and escape into your mind.
This is a world of depth that few of us find enough time to utilize fully. The only rules for what you do there (especially if you may only have a few minutes) are :
* no thoughts that will open negative or angry emotional responses
* you must control what you are thought-exploring.
I like to use this kind of time for planning with reality visualization. It has helped prevent wasted effort! This is not the same as weighing the pros and cons. In my experience a situation/decision may have all pro marks yet the result is not the accomplishment expected.

Hope that makes sense.

latecomers as adrenaline addicts?


What you're describing sounds like "adrenline addiction" - loving the thrill of almost screwing up, getting as close as you can to the line without going over.

As for being a time "expert"... Maybe that's true for some, but not me. I'm a time moron - I have no sense of how long anything takes.

Adrenaline Addict Concept

Hi pro,
The holidays and so forth kept me from posting back to you, but they have subsided. I read this post and have really been thinking about it and noticing things that lend credence to this idea. I can tell you, yes. I will sometimes structure (unstructure) things so that I am functioning by the seat of my pants, and getting a literal rush from it. This is an intense idea. I'm pretty sure I use these tactics in a couple arenas in my life.

For instance, I had a conference call scheduled that I wasn't sure I was prepared for. Instead of settling in and studying my notes, I started burning a CD for a friend, a task that I estimated would finish just in time for the call. It was so obvious to me that I was doing this trick again, so I looked at myself for signs of adrenaline. Sure enough! I was high and nervous!! Very interesting.

It backfires sometimes though, and I can reach physical crisis if I'm cutting it too close.

I sing, and I had a show several months ago for which I had procrastinated studying my lyrics. I started getting a sense of how ill-prepared I was and tried cramming, then I rushed to get to the show, hadn't eaten, and developed a sudden stage-fright (not something I've usually felt). I ended up nearly fainting. Silly me. Totally self-induced.

I don't know if I've gotten close to understanding this yet, but I've been trying to experiment and pace myself differently. To cut myself off from my inner "pusher," the one who makes me set up the adrenaline rush, I try to choose NOT to do those last minute tasks and instead sit there and feel the consequences of being right there, late or incompletely prepared, but not in a frenzy of self-imposed punishment or guilt, or a rush of acheivement at all costs. Do you know what I mean??? Hope this breaks some part of the habit. Thanks for the insight.

Gnothi Seauton ~ Know Thyself

Adrenaline Rush

I used to have a boyfriend who's adrenaline rush need was so obvious to me that I didn't notice my own. I think it's probably better to have planned adrenaline times such as exercise classes or running (in my case), skateboarding, or something, and not try to get my fix from flying by the seat of my pants!


I agree it's a choice

I was trying to figure out how people who aren't late do it, so I asked a few. Very few were conscious of what it was that they did, but one of them came up with something I found very insightful - she said she'd rather get somewhere HALF AN HOUR EARLY than be two minutes late (!!) It seemed such a waste of time to me.

I know that people say you can read a book while you wait (so what if it's cold, dark, and wet), but I do things with '2 minutes to spare' because otherwise I wouldn't be able to do all the things I do. I would have to give up some work, study, or something else important to me - just so I could spend that time waiting.

Tonight was an example - I worked until 6.10, went home and got ready to go out with my students for 7.00 - and I would have made it if it wasn't for the 'outside factor' - in this case a cash machine with no cash in it. I got there at 7.15 (fortunately, I'd organised it, and I said '7 for 7.30'). So if I wanted to be there at 7.00 I'd have had to have left quarter of an hour earlier. The job I was doing wouldn't have been finished, and as I only work there Tues, Wed, Thurs (and have a meeting on Thurs) I wouldn't have finished the job until next week - too late (the job itself was running late because of server problems).

Until I can convince myself that waiting time is better use of my time that what I'm doing now I will probably continue to be late.

Thanks for starting the thread Gwen - it's helped get me past the 'WHY do I do this to myself?' stage, where I've been stuck for years, and onto the 'let's work on a solution' stage.


MP3 player? Some educational / memorization project?

I've found it alot easier to enjoy waiting in places, as well as walking from place to place, running on the treadmill and doing chores around the house since I started carrying around an MP3 player. I'm less interested in listening to music than I am listening to educational stuff... generally lectures from The Teaching Company.

I've gone through an entire 48 lecture series on European History in the past few months. (Mostly walking - I don't own a car.) I really enjoy getting ten or so minutes of it a few times throughout the day.

Also, maybe I'm just a geek... :) but a while ago I wanted to learn the relative locations of the world's countries. So I'd print up a map of a continent and put it in my pocket. That works well because you can even just glance at it for 30 seconds. Should get back to doing that. :) Vocabulary cards for language learning - same idea.

My problem is I always convince myself I have time to do ONE MORE diverting thing before leaving the house..

In the same boat -

Great minds think alike! I have a Palm Pilot with a number of E-books which I read to increase my general knowledge. Right now I'm going through B.F Skinner's "Beyond Freedom and Dignity," it's very interesting and I agree on many of his points. When I'm caught waiting somewhere at least I can do something mildly productive I figure. I think you'd agree.

I always pick something not related to work however. That way I can give my mind a break and and run on all twelve cylinders whenever I need to get something done. I already speak fluent German so I don't need any vocabulary improvement there, but I am considering taking up French so I might end up using your vocabulary tip!