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.

Procrastination: Ten Things To Know

I couldn't figure out how to post this to the "Articles" section - I hope it's OK to include here.  I thought the article had some interesting and insightful information, especially about health effects. It is from Psychology Today, 23 August 2003.

There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most
sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage
themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose
paths that hurt their performance.

Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world's leading
experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of
psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D.,
associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa,
Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many
questions immediately.

  1. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic
    procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a
    maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don't
    pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to
    concerts. They don't cash gift certificates or checks. They file income
    tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas
  2. It's not trivial, although as a culture we don't take it
    seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of
    self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other
    countries because we are so nice; we don't call people on their excuses
    ("my grandmother died last week") even when we don't believe them.
  3. Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of
    planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate
    time, although they are more optimistic than others. "Telling someone who
    procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with
    chronic depression to just cheer up," insists Dr. Ferrari.
  4. Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in
    the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an
    authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps
    children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from
    internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them.
    Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms
    available under such circumstances. What's more, under those household
    conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for
    support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they
    tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
  5. Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol
    among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend
    to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is
    over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie
    procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.
  6. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, "I'll feel
    more like doing this tomorrow." Or "I work best under pressure." But in
    fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure.
    In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying "this isn't
    important." Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure
    makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more
    creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  7. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly
    ones that don't take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail
    is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of
    regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
  8. There's more than one flavor of procrastination. People
    procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic
    types of procrastinators:
    • arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for
      the euphoric rush.
    • avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of
      success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of
      them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than
    • decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not
      making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the
      outcome of events.
  9. There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over
    the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students
    had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu,
    more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition,
    procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts
    the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful.
    Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private
  10. Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so
    consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn't necessarily mean one
    feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured
    cognitive behavioral therapy.


Sorry but I have to disagree with item 2. This problem is certainly not more present in the US than in any other country, and americans are certainly not the nicest persons in the world. The reason why procrastination is very present in the US is most probably that it is an addiction (just like alcohol, drugs or junk food, yes, you see where I'm going), and addictions are designed to avoid long term pain by replacing it by short term pleasure, which does not work. All addictions are about running away from pain without looking where we are heading. And addictions are particularly present in societies where people are tought that they can get everything they want easily (like happiness) by just buying something for example (that's what advertisements teach us), that one will waste his life if he does not have a wife with huge breasts, and that all the pain in the world can be solved by buying, for example, a big car. We believe that we need to be loved by everybody just like the stars we see on TV, we are tought that we are nothing unless we are like them (physically and socially). All this shame and all these beliefs are the seed for addictions. And procrastination is just part of them.

The reason given in the above article doesn't explain much. Very often, when we procrastinate, we don't have to give any excuse to anybody, and it is not the fact that they are "too nice" that will make us continue procrastinating. For example, we can procrastinate on writing a book. But we have no commitment to anybody, no excuse to give to anyone, it is just our own book. Having a "not nice" boss will absolutely not solve our procrastination problems, just like having parents that just slap you everytime you smoke weed will not solve your addiction problems. It will just make you feel worse, and feeling bad is exactly the reason why you are addicted, to procrastination for example.

Much of this rings true for me

I took particular note of Item #4. But I think that only reflects one kind of parental dynamic. My own growing up was slightly different.

I also think that controlling fathers aren't the only problem. Controlling mothers can play a role as well.

Other items in this list also strike me as being on the mark.

And with regard to item 8, while I won't dispute the existence of the 3 types they describe, I know my own procrastination falls into more than one category.






The Hero's Code:

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

multiple items true for me too

agreed - multiple items are true for me too!

i found the typology helpful though - i know part of the procrastinator's dilemma is to over-analyze everything (or at least it's part of my dilemma)...but breaking my problem down into discreet facets helps feels more manageable that way ....if i can identify thing things apply to me, and where they might be coming from...then maybe i can do something about them.





10 things to know

#7. I check my email a kajillion times per day. First thing I do when I get up. Last thing before I go to bed. And time after time in between....just hoping to find a facebook notification, or a chain letter, anything that can take my mind off what I should be doing.

20% of people chronic procrastinators

it was comforting to know that 20 percent of people self-identify as *chronic* procrastinators...that made me feel better!

i think e-mail/the Internet are a procrastinator's dream come true!...:) but, through forums like this one, technology can also be a way for us to help ourselves too.

that's what i've been thinking about to turn my normally "bad" habits into habits that help me overcome my compulsive avoidance (on #8, i'm definitely an 'avoider' and not a 'thrill-seeker' or an 'indecisive' procrastinator)...i tried with my 'encouragement slides'. when i feel the need to web-surf instead of homework or reading, i just open powerpoint and look at those slides...they remind me to get back to work...but i need to come up with some other 'tricks' too. :)