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.

Two Kinds of Procrastination

As I've been working here and making progress in overcoming some of my procrastination tendancies, I'm seeing that I procrastinate in two kinds of contexts.

One is overt and clearly "avoidance" behavior. Perhaps I have a long list of to-dos and I don't know which to do first and I feel overwhelmed, so instead of picking one I go surf the net or play Freecell or what have you. A variant of this is there's a particular task that is urgent and important but for whatever reason -- I suddenly feel unprepared to do it, I'm afraid of a confrontation that it involves, whatever -- I deliberately avoid that task.

This is the most acute and dangerous form of procrastination for me, and I have found the work I've done here, with chatbox and check-ins, to be very helpful in getting me past avoidance blocks. 

But there's another, more subtle form, and I'm not sure that "procrastination" carries quite the right connotations, although it certainly involves putting things off. I'll call it "deferral" behavior. 

Here's an example. Let's say I have project X (a magazine article) do in 1 month. 

At the beginning of the project I'll set up a series of milepost tasks: Plan the project, do the research, write, fact-check, rewrite, submit.

To make this discussion easy let's just say I've got a total of 30 days from start to finish. I assign "plan" to Day 1, "research" to start on Day 4 with a due date of Day 20; "write" to start on Day 21 with a due date of Day 25, and fact-check and rewrite assigned to start on Day 26 with a due date of Day29, with shipping on Day 30.

What happens, though, is that, early on it's easy to put off parts of the task. And it's especially easy and seems necessary to do so if I have other projects that I'm working on in the current time frame, especially if they're due NOW.

Thus, Day 1 comes and I move "plan" to Day 2, and keep moving it back. Then the start date for "research" gets pushed back, too. Suddenly it's Day 15 and I haven't planned or started research. Or worse.

It's not that I'm avoiding the task (not necessarily, anyway). It's that Everything Else takes priority and it gets pushed off the radar screen. 

It helps, some, to schedule some of the stuff and to set aside uninterrupted blocks of time, but that sometimes is a lot easier said than done.

So, I am curious if anyone can identify with this latter kind of procrastination and if you've found ways to combat it.




Ah.  urgency is an

Ah.  urgency is an invention for me.  At each step in the process, when I choose to put my interest and focus into a more urgent task, I have to determine if that task really is more important than the project X.

possible idea

I posted some thoughts and ideas I got in reading Rita Emmett, Procrastinators Handbook - that maybe can spark some discussion and turn into solutions for us.


calendar aha moment

I have no idea how something this simple is helping me so much, maybe because I am somewhat visual and using the backtiming method in a structured disciplined way is new to me - But whatever the reason, planning all my jobs out with minideadlines on a calendar is so eye-opening! I always have a calendar, but in this application I am treating it with the same thought I put into CI list and it is a relief.

For some reason a to do list with lots of tasks for a not so urgent deadline was like an invitation to skip it - Even with CI find if i put down certain minideadlines I find it easy to skip them because of lack of pressure. The calendar I can see - each day of month in front of me and suddenly that makes the pressure real! Not the last minute scary pressure of an almost here deadline, but the healthy pressure of seeing I have no choice but to get this done - I can't see any time for avoiding!

With the addict understanding in mind, maybe it's like a recovering substance abuser - after the initial detox, it is often best to live in a safe/recovery house with very structured routines, planned in advance - not able to make best decisions still and need protection of a schedule and accountability.

If one method of structure/accountability isn't working, reanalyze and see how it can better suit your needs. For me - this is a way to face reality - not just a list of tasks that seems so long (and avoidable) but a clear vision of how that list looks over a month,week, etc. ( I still have tasklist, but portioned out some each day).

I hope this makes as much sense written as it does in my head! lol

It feels like this will work for me - took 3 day to get it all down (plus thinking all last wk)! And a little bonus, I satisfied my silly chart/list/color coding desires by giving each job/project a color :-)   

OH! One more bonus - a clear vision helps me with boundary issues and not saying no enough, etc. - I see now I don't have time to say yes all the time!! I have been living one crazy existence -I knew it but now i SEE it- impossibe demands on my time and energy! Planned the work, now to work the plan!



another dual sufferer here.

altho, i might be a little worse. That beautiful, reasoned schedule of which you speak? I dont need urgent tasks to turn me away from it, just a gentle breeze of interesting web sites. Hey--it's a 30 day schedule, surely i have time to read up on the news, or look up a philosophical point i was discussing w/ someone, or investigate blah, or xyz catches my eye, or i have an impulse to do foo, or whatever.

In this other thread, that was called the "its not due for another week" attitude

i will note that for your problem GS, the problem is cyclical. If you can do your projects on time, there wont be as many of those "have to do NOW" issues, and it'll be easier to stick to the schedule.

In my life i think i have a hint of a direction of what might solve this for me. It's death to distraction. Because i am really fascinated by a whole bunch of things. I have to put to death all these other possibilities to give life to the scheduled task, the real one, the one i decided when i was not impulsive was the most important. I've done it for brief periods of time, maybe 3 weeks at most. Last 3 weeks have NOT been one of those periods :( :( Until i can do it long term, tho, i have to presume that i do not have a solution.

But, like everyone else in this thread, i'm listening ! :)

and hopeful

(ps. i actually do not like the adrenaline rush. I get it, i use it, but the whole time i'm painfully aware of how much better i could be doing this if it wasn't rushed.)

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb

death to distraction!

Thanks to you Clement, this reminds me to ask my husband to put new passwords on our pcs, so I can only surf at night when he's home and not during daytime, when I should study and look for a job at home. I've been avoiding to ask him this for 2(!) weeks now, which means 2 weeks of mindless surfing...

I've eliminated cable TV (only a DVD player left)

I've eliminated my daily paper (whine! I love my SZ - something like the NYT over here)



"if i feel guilty about my procrastination, i will get LESS done, if i dont feel guilty, i will get MORE done." - Clement


Oh, yeah, that too...

 That beautiful, reasoned schedule of which you speak? I dont need
urgent tasks to turn me away from it, just a gentle breeze of
interesting web sites. Hey--it's a 30 day schedule, surely i have time
to read up on the news, or look up a philosophical point i was
discussing w/ someone, or investigate blah, or xyz catches my eye, or i
have an impulse to do foo, or whatever.

 I certainly could have written that....:-)



The Hero's Code:

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

i so much relate to just

i so much relate to just not doing it. i keep on moving things badly......

i seem to loose most of my day to "day dreaming". its almost like a hypnotic state where days, weeks, months, years seem to pass by without me doing anything that I wanted to do. I am tired of living this way. its so much of an addiction. i seem to plan my day but never seem to stick to it. i plan to attend PA meetings, plan to do this, plan to do that but end up almost never doing it.

yes! this is my main procras type

I am a powerful planner.  I excel at breaking down major projects into tasks.  People actually pay me to do this for them.  I am better at estimating how long a task will realistically take. I even have people to whom I can delegate completion after I do some minor prep tasks.

Yep, I'm powerful at scheduling my tasks.  I just don't DO them. Some psycho-block tells me once I have creasted a structure to not forget it, I am "safe" and can move back into the demands du jour.  Which inevitably, as you aptly describe, pulls me away from my scheduled sanity.

Sadly, the only ESH I have to share is that adrenaline works really well for me. I'm sure adrenaline is the physical payoff for my procrastination.

Agnus, this is so

Agnus, this is so interesting! What you described - that you are very good at planning major projects - is exactly what some self-help book described as THE career path for procrastinators (can't remember which one right now)! Many of us seem to be very creative in mapping out projects and very good at  setting up - I don't know how to say this correctly in English - "how to follow through management plans" , we're just not the ones who should be responsible for the actual follow-through - we should delegate!

And as all of this is what you do everyday and also get payed for it, I guess you have found the ideal career path!



"if i feel guilty about my procrastination, i will get LESS done, if i dont feel guilty, i will get MORE done." - Clement


totally Relate GS

I wish I had a solution - but I wanted to post that I have the EXACT kinds of procrastination. It is easier to put off things that don't have urgent deadlines, and maybe another component, we are so used to working with the push of urgent deadlines we create those situations for ourselves on tasks unintentionally.

For me, I think too that some of the same things that cause me to avoid day to day things spill over onto the "mini-deadlines" I try to create for bigger tasks.

Where  I am right now is realizing I don't have a good system (or understanding) of how to manage my time - daily routines, urgent tasks and long term deadlines an projects - how to incorporate it all into a doable routine? So I think not knowing and feeling overwhelmed leads to avoidance.

When I have a clear system and plan I can carry it out, such as using this site - I don't avoid doing CI - have avoided chat a few times, but for short periods, so recovered faster than before.

I would like to find a system that I don't have to figure out that I can use like this site and turn into a habit. Don't know it yet, seeking!

I read something the other day that intimidated me, but maybe should do it, thinking of how I dont have balanced work habits or good judgement of how long things take, analyze your day in 30 min blocks recording all you do. (Scary!) Then set up daily plan using 30 min blocks, fixing problem areas. This does not address how to put it all together for me though.

Am on the verge of getting myself in trouble with jobs I am juggling if I don't find a solution, hope your post inspires one from someone!!

Same here, radar out for

Same here, radar out for others' solutions! What I read in MF is that the 'big initiative' should be done first not after. But--when there are several?

GS, i can soooo much relate

GS, i can soooo much relate to no.1 and especially no.2!

Last December, when planning 3 huge projects which needed to be finished almost at the same time (project 1: March 4th, project 2: March 17th, project 3. March 26th). I thought, wow, my plan is worked out so well, I had even put in 30% of float each day to take care of my procr./distractions/other important stuff that could come up. And I didn't overloead my schedule, I planned on doing only as little as neccessary so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed.

Wanna know what I did?

From Dec.-Feb. 25th I did nothing except a little off-topic research, using resources which were not in my plan, because I knew they would be too time consuming and, more importantly, wouldn't get me where i needed to get.

From Feb.25th - March 4th i freaked and hectically put together project 1, only being able to complete  45-50% of it.

As in the meantime i hadn't wasted a thought on project 2, once project 1 was over I sat around paralyzed, surfing and watching TV for a week. At around March 13 i started working on project 2. On due date, march 17, I wanted to tell people to give me 2 more weeks. They wouldn't. So I handed  about 50% of my work. Lucky me they almost didn't notice.

In the meantime i of course havn't wasted a thought on project 3 (remember, I wanted to pursue all three projects side by side!). I "successfully" postponed project 3 and since March 17 can't really get myself to get it started. I havn't even a plan yet and i haven't even had the guts to ask for a new due date.

But thanks to your post, GS, I'm going to set up a project plan right now. I've got 30min left for doing this, and for a rought draft that should be enough.

Thanks again for sharing, got me off my butt, GS!




"if i feel guilty about my procrastination, i will get LESS done, if i dont feel guilty, i will get MORE done." - Clement