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.

Not knowing where to start, and does it ever end?

I have five scary paperwork piles scattered around my home and can no longer ignore them, despite my best efforts.  Similarly, despite my best efforts, I have done nothing about them except to repeatedly schedule microbursts that I'm not doing.  So I am taking this to a Forum topic: What tips/tricks/tools do you use to get started on this sort of paperwork paranoia?

One pile is in a basket on my desk. A second is on the file cabinet behind me. Third and fourth are on the kitchen counter. Fifth is on the dining room chair.   I see them all every day, and I'm sure they have created their own synaptic anxiety loop in my psyche. 

Not knowing where to start is a major problem for me; what if I start one pile and it takes hours to finish, while meanwhile something time-sensitive was in another pile and I blew it by starting on the wrong pile?  The strange quirk of compulsive procrastination is that, while a normal person might take that as a cue to start immediately and quickly resolve them all, I freeze and do none of them. 

At least, without PA that's what I would do.  Thanks to this site, the Steps and Tools and especially the fellowship here, I can examine my stall points, get in touch with the underlying anxieties, share the findings with people who understand, and report honestly on my progress without being judged. 

A running undercurrent is this thought: I've been here before. I've used the PA Tools to get rid of scary paperwork piles. How did they come back?  Will they always come back? Is there no end to this?  What's the use of starting and finishing THESE paperwork piles if they will only be replaced soon by five MORE piles?  aargh. Soon the despair and self-hatred are back, making me bad and wrong for not having this all figured out like normal people do. 

This morning I actually threw three current sale magazines into the recycle bin even though there might be something in them that I'll wish I had later.  I could palpably feel my stomach clench with anxiety as I resolutely trned my back on the recycle bin.  I'm guessing that this is a core skill needed to prevent paperwork from piling up again in the future: finding out how to live with the anxiety of throwing stuff away early and often.

Welcome your thoughts.

Paperwork ideas

Hi Agnus,

Congrats on throwing away the sales catalogs!  (And I wouldn't worry - once you are on their mailing list, it's pretty much guaranteed that the company will keep sending you new ones!)  Smile

I feel your pain. . . my gad, I hate paperwork!  Tedious, anxiety-provoking and guilt-inducing.  Ugh!

Here are some things I find useful when I've got a scary heap to deal with:

First I go through and JUST sort (no processing anything at this point!) into three categories:  1. Things I can throw away (or shred.)  2. Things that just need to be filed & don't require any other action.  3. And things that I will actually have to do something with.

The nice thing about this is that once I've done the sorting, that third pile, of things I have to do something about, looks a whole lot smaller and less daunting.

Then I go through that third pile and throw away anything that's been superseded. Ex. if I've received a second notice I can throw away the first notice; if I have a new catalog I can throw away the previous one, etc.

Next, I go through and open envelopes & throw away the envelopes and any excess paper (ex. ads that are included with bills, etc.)  Now the pile looks even smaller.  Smile

It's important to just sort while sorting - I don't stop to work on any one piece of paperwork. The sorting process doesn't take long, so I know if there's anything urgent I'll see it soon.  

Once I'm down to just the stuff that needs to be worked on, then I can do triage -- see which things are most urgent and do those first.

Best of luck with those paper mounds!  Let us know how it goes.


Agnus/ One Day At a Time

Boy, Can I relate to this thinking.The same voices of limitation.  The slogans really help. One Day at A Time. Keep it Simple. First Things First. Let Go and Let God.

The voice you hear, is not you because you can hear it, if it is not you, you can ignore it, you can silence it. What do you have the power to do now? You can get off the wheel, tell your voice to shut up. Disobey the voice.