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.

Building on today's success

I wanted to write here and see if I can define what I did and  build on the small amount of success I had today at work.  I also wanted to write down some things that may seem obvious, but that finally clicked a little in my brain.

1. I now fully realize and understand that I cannot indulge in any personal e-mail or casual web surfing at work. No matter if I set a timer, write down a time limit or whatever it always leads to lots of wasted time. Like with eating disorder issues, alcohol, it is better to simply  not have the temptation around. Period. You can't eat junk food that's not there. You can't get lost in the web mental haze if you're not surfing.

2. I now fully realize that the personal surfing that I do is not truly relaxing despite the lies that I have been telling myself.  Yes, I get a little boost when I first start (or have that first drink...), but that feeling soon deterioriates and clouds every other emotion I have for the rest of the day. It drains my energy so that I have less to share with my family, my friends, and my personal growth. Conversely, when I make even small progress on tasks it fills me with energy, enthusiasm and creativity for the rest of the day, even though starting out i have to go through a very uncomfortable few moments.

3. Going into the PA chat room and commiting to a short microburst of 5-7 minutes can help jar me out of the zombie like, distracted state that procrastinating puts me into. I will continue to try Pro's idea of putting on some  item that signifies that I'm getting started on my work. In my case it is a rubber band with 'Opt in' written on it.

4. Working in cycles of very short term planning followed by microbursts seems really effective.  Other than surfing the web my other big procrastination road block is when the task I need to do is not well enough defined. For example, I may have on my list to pay bills - that's too nebulous. I need to write down every bill that needs paying and steps such as addressing envelopes, putting on stamps, taking to the mailbox.  So, it seems that if I take 5 minutes (set timer!) and write down exactly what I think I can accomplish in the next 15 minutes in very small do-able pieces and then set the timer and work on only those tasks for 15 minutes, I can stay focused.  I do big over all planning of the day first thing in the morning, but
then break the bigger projects down into small steps along the way.  I
guess it sort of puts the blinders on me to keep me from floundering.

5. When I'm in a working phase and a distracting thought comes into my head, I write it down on a scrap piece of paper and put it into a pile to deal with later. If I don't write it down so that I know I can think about it later it will keep me from focusing.

6. I acknowledge that ruly rejuvinating breaks during the day are to stand and stretch, get a cool drink of water, eat a snack, go outside and stand in the sun, reach out to a colleague, etc.  Again, web surfing and checking personal e-mail is not truly relaxing.

7. Keeping a written reminder of small rewards for accomplishing a set number of work cycles in front of me is motivating.

8. Though I have not tried it, I think that keeping a time log would be helpful for several reasons.

So my goals for the next two days of work are to:

1. Completely abstain from checking personal e-mail or surfing/shopping for personal purposes at work. (before and after work or at the end of the day are fine)

2. Do larger scale planning in the morning, but plod through the day in  'micro-plan, micro burst, asses, micro-plan, micro burst, assess' cycles. (approx. 5 min assessing/planning, 15 min working)

3. Write down rewards for reaching goals and then reward myself!

4. Take regular breaks to clear my mind, but only on activities that really are relaxing.

Sorry for the super long post, but I wanted to work through this to clear it in my head. I'd love any feedback or insight that anyone might have (If you actually made it to the bottom of this tome!).

I've learned so much already from others who have shared here. It makes me hopeful as I have never felt in the past.


Reflections on the day

I worked on my assess/microplanning/microburst 'technique' today and made good use of the chatbox to refocus me when I was wandering. I had lots of good thought/reflections on my progress earlier today but am feeling kind of tired right now, but did want to make a few notes.

Benefits of the 5 minute Assess/Microplan sessions:

  • During the assessment i move all of my accomplished tasks to the 'DONE' list. Even if the tasks were very minor (e.x. shredding 3 files) seeing that list grow feels good and is a self perpetuating motivational factor.
  • Only having 5 minutes to assess and decide on tasks for the next 15 minutes forces me to quickly choose what I will do, helping to keep me from my habit of endlessly debating what would be best to start on.

Benefits of the 15 minute microburst work session:

  • Having only 15 minutes to complete a list of tasks forces me to break projects into extremely doable action steps that I feel reasonably confident are clear cut and that I'm capable of doing in a short amount of time.

Reflections on how it worked for me today:

Overall I would say that it was very effective. I often went over the 15 minutes to try to complete something that I was working on or to accomodate an interruption. I decided that this was ok because work binging has never really been a problem for me.  However when I had worked over 15 minutes and started to feel myself searching around and not being very efficient, I went right back into a 5 minute assess/microplan.  One benefit of this that I can think of is that it forces me to be consciously aware that I'm getting off track and redirects me before I get lost in indecision and ineffective wheel spinning behaviors.

I do 98% of my work on a computer, so I used the downloadable 'Minute Timer' to keep me on track. I like it because it's uncomplicated and very easy to change the amount of time on the fly. When it's minimized you can also see how much time is remaining.

Ok, this post is getting rather long and the next part is me planning how to deal with the first two hours of the day when I'm always least productive (most anxious, too) and frequently falling asleep.


-wait to eat bfast at work

-do non-thinking tasks such as filing first thing

- do low resistance tasks and save writing activities (my most anxiety provoking tasks) for 10am when I feel my best during the day.

I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon this group and am thankful every day. 

great post CB!

'You become what you think about most of the time.' - Brian Tracy