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.

Depth of others' procrastination experiences

I have a question for those willing to share.  What is the longest period or stretch of time that you have gone with no real productivity (despite how it may have appeared to others)?  Some people have suggested in their posts that they have spent "a whole (1) day websurfing" (which they see as a lot).  Has anybody completely wasted a week/month of their lives (excluding dedicated vacation times).  I'm interested to see the range of experiences of other readers--partially out of curiousity and partially as a way of gauging the severity of my own problem.  There seems to be a lot of variability in the nature and severity of people's procrastination issues on this site.  

I'll eventually post an answer to my own question.

months, years?

There have been periods in my life where it went on for a very long time.  Months, years perhaps.   Just sitting on the couch, crying.  It's painful for me to talk about now, but it did happen.

Now, I have important projects that I do procrastinate on for months or years at a time, but I am functional with the rest of my life.

Although I post here maybe 3 times per month, I do actively read here and consider myself an active member.  I am in other 12-step groups, also, so sometimes my check-ins happen there (depending on which type of issue I am procrastinating about).

This site has helped me enormously.  I am learning to observe myself falling into traps now, and am better able to pull myself out.   Once in a while, I actually SEE the trap before falling in, and then step away from the brink.


procrastination and depression

> Just sitting on the couch, crying.

That sounds like clinical depression. I've spent months just fooling around.
Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Crying that wasn't depression


Movingalong mentioned: "Just sitting on the couch, crying."

Pro commented: "That sounds like clinical depression."

Reply from movingalong:

I can understand why you'd think that, but my particular situation wasn't depression.  It was actually a twisted form of procrastination.

It's a long story, so I've explained on a separate thread here:

[Editing to clarify: I do understand that depression is a real physical illness, and not something to assign blame about. It's just an illness.
However, depression wasn't what I was dealing with.]


procrastination and depression cont'd

I think there's a very close relationship between these two. If you've experienced depression, you know what it's like to have even things like getting up seem overwhelmingly difficult. When depressed, it's easy to blame yourself, think it's all your fault, and then the failure to meet goals and exhaustion just feed into more depression.

Of course getting little things done does help depression (the old saying about only doing a dew things before tea time, and the value of done lists instead of to-do lists...). Is it reasonable to try to recover from procrastination during depression (or stress-related illness?) From my experience, I think probably not, or not at first, anyway--healing a bit from that might need to come first, and especially stopping with the negative self talk.

For me, progress here has gone with emerging from a spell of bad times and depression. Recovery from that has been a long process. Now I can say that the 12 steps and work here help me, but it would have been too hard before. If one could see depression as a physical illness it would be easier to have appropriate compassion for oneself and others, like how you wouldn't ask a person in a cast to run a race.


depression, ADD, and procrastination

ADD and depression are both major reasons for procrastination, and both have a physical basis. I've noticed that many people coming through here struggle with ADD, depression, or both (myself included).

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Healing first

I have a family history of depression, and while I'm pretty young I have felt it coming on at times, mostly times of great stress and procrastination. For me, the two have been closely linked for at least a couple of years. That's something therapy has helped me a lot with—detaching some of the emotion from my work habits, so that I am (slowly) starting to accept that I probably won't do a lot of things until the last minute and that's okay. There's a long way to go yet but I feel I've found the start.

Chickadee, your experience sounds familiar to me, since for me the starting point for recovery has been delving into the subconscious feelings of guilt and defeat, and working to stay calm. 

e's experience

I have been on anti-depressants for a long time now and I was still frozen on the couch. Recently I had a sensible conversation with the new psych person who is working with me on meds and he stated an obvious behavior of mine that was inhibiting my getting better: drinking. I have put down alcohol for two weeks now and I am beginning to feel my medication kick in. The obvious thought here is: it said not to drink alcohol on the bottle of medication: so why was I drinking? Because I did not want to. Yet another addictive behavior that I had not been able to 'come to believe I was powerless over'. 

I am off the couch now and making progress in the right direction. I am finding that I can look at where I make progress and not freak out about where I am not. It is like coming out of stasis. And the procrastination pattern is not as evident.

I did not think I was an alcoholic, but the chemicals were absolutely not helping me. I am beginning to feel better physically. It takes three weeks or so for the alcohol to leave the body, so I have yet to see what 'normal' feels like. But in the meantime, I am enjoying putting out tendrils in the right direction and the satisfaction of getting off the couch. 

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." - William Penn

you go, e!!!

Hi e!

That is awesome! Keep doing what you are doing!!! :)


Thank you, gals & guys, for being here! :)

2 days and counting...

Yep...I posted a CI on Sunday and then Monday and Tuesday I've pretty much gone to work (where I did very little work) and come home (where I did next to no work). I did shovel my sidewalk and walkway last night because after 40+ years of nearly killing myself on thousands of other people's unshoveled walks I swore I would keep mine up, dammit. :D And I did open an envelope that looked to be containing a check (it did, but for a much smaller amount than I was expecting).

Okay, so technically I'm still moving about; it could be worse...I could be at home under the covers surfing the Web...

I agree with those who say it's a matter of batches of hours spread out over time rather than days or weeks. I also agree about different things being associated with different depths of procrastination. For example:

In 13 years I have lived in 7 two-bedroom abodes. (11 places total in the 20 years since I left my parents' house...yes, I have moved a lot.) The whole reason I've ever had a two-bedroom was so I'd have an office. In all these years I have never, EVER, truly organized said office to a point where I was happy with it. That office has largely turned into a storage room which also happens to contain my bookshelves and desk.

I've already been doing what this site calls "microbursts" on other things but the office pretty much never gets touched. Maybe this should be another goal for 2009: Touch the office, lol. (I have applied to a fellowship in a different state so if I get it, I'll be moving again, and most likely I won't be able to afford a two-bedroom, which will make my situation even more dire.)

time wasting contest

> Has anybody completely wasted a week/month of their lives (excluding dedicated vacation times). 

I have - and more. I've gone very long stretches of time - months - without even opening my mail. I've destroyed careers and relationships with procrastination.

I'm a low-bottom procrastinator. That's why I started this site and this fellowship. I'm doing much better now (as you noted in the chatbox tonight), and so can you.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

I feel that I have procrastinated for as long as I can remember

 I have floated along and waited for something to happen/change.
I have low frustration toleranace , seek almost immediate gratification and have difficulty in breaking down tasks into components. On those few occasions that I have planned I have not been sucessful and have had to revert to "winging it".
At the moment I am working on developing an assessment  task using a new model and I have spent the day surfing the net looking for a shortcut that would allow me to by pass the hard work of interacting with the documents, thinking about the content and interpreting what it means for my school.

On a brighter note I have gotten alitle better with my paper work and with being truthful.  The truthfulness or the lack of it was a strategey to cover up my procrastination and lack of achievement.

The Depth??? As deep as it can get !!

"Recovery from procrastination means doing what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it."

Probably 2-3 weeks...

I've had stretches of time that long when, for all intents and purposes, I've done nothing productive in the time that I had intended to do productive work. Gone into my office with a clear list of tasks to accomplish but no urgent deadlines and so spent hour after hour dithering in one way or another...

The Hero's Code:

Show up. Pay Attention. Speak the Truth. Let Go of the Outcome.

How long?

As far as my procrastination goes, it's an every day occurrence. Like others have said, productivity can be measured differently per project or task, and also per perspective or mood. However, the longest time i have been out of work or schooling, spending about 95% of my time at home in 'recreation', totals over 3 months. But it's a repeated three months; i've attempted to learn and work over and over, each time ending up back where i started. That's a rough portrait of the last two or three years, so i suppose one could say.. 2 years has been my longest stretch with no real productivity.

Nice to meet you mss, i’m roses.

Nice to meet you too

And thank you for your answer (and thanks to the others who have posted as well).  I know what you're going through.  I've personally gone weeks/months not really doing what I needed to do.  However, I agree that it depends on how you frame the question as even during these times there were certain essential tasks that I had no choice but to do.  And during these dark times, I did invest a lot of energy in faking it and "looking busy."  For the last couple of months, I feel like I've been unconsciously fooling myself into thinking that I've been working when, in reality, I have nothing to show for it.  I guess I've been mastered looking busy to a point were I'm convincing myself. 

So to answer my own question.  I've gone weeks and even months not performing most (90%) of the tasks I was supposed to do and was telling people I was doing.  That doesn't mean I was bed-ridden or frozen on the couch for the whole period.  It means that, for those periods, anything uncomfortable that was easy and convenient to avoid was avoided. 

Good question mss!

Well, let's see . . . I pretty much manage to go to work every day and put dinner on the table every night.   But I've spent many 8-hour days in the office doing maybe an hour of work, and spent many nights and weekends playing computer games rather than cleaning house.  So the longest stretch for me would be a matter of hours not days or weeks, but those hours have a great impact as I don't have hours to waste. 

I had a dream last night that I was old and living with my daughter and sat around doing nothing all day.   And it was quite pleasant.  That's always been a scary thought, but somehow as I get older I'm starting to look forward to sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair all day.   If I'm feeling energetic I might actually rock. 



"Hard work must have killed someone." - Charles Gregory

l;ol jo

 I will be down to race you on how little I will rock....

Longest stretch depends on what aspect I am procrastinating on

mss, that is a good question.  However, there are various aspects of my life that I procrastinate on to various degrees so there is no simple answer.  For example, there is cleaning up my paperwork mess.  That is something that I have not really ever done and, instead, I now have it in storage, i.e., it is now out of sight and mind!  As for my paying work, I have not kept track but I recall sometimes not doing anything for over a month when I had a job to do (note that I am a self-employed computer contract programmer so the amount of work that I do, or don't do, is relatively flexible and up to me to a large extent).  On the other hand, I tend to do other things like keeping my apartment clean, apart from the paperwork aspect, on a fairly regular basis.

- John O.

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

frightening thought

 I guess it is a relative question: I have been not addressing completing my graduate practicum for 3 years now, with extremely occasional forays into productivity. 

I have gone several days without good self care, depending on how depressed I was. I am currently struggling with my fear of submitting job applications, which has been going on for months now. 

 In other words, I am qualified as a procrastinator of the enormous kind. 

Some days I creatively procrastinate on doing unimportant things. 

I suppose I have gone for a months of not doing much but meeting basic needs for a 6 monrths or more after being fired from a job I feared.


wasted a week

i've wasted a week. not totally but working maybe 2 hrs on 2 different days. Usually at 11pm when i've wasted that whole day and suddenly get overcome with guilt and in 2 hrs late at night try to make up for what i didnt get done.

and was THAT an unpleasant experience.

Good question, mss.