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.

My goose is just cooked if I can't find help.

In a lot of pain today. I've likely blown a wonderful job opportunity, one my family really needed, by going off on another cycle of crippling, extreme procrastination and perfectionism. Of responding to intense fear of criticism — of being judged lacking, in terms of my professional abilities — by swinging between (a) extreme avoidance of the trial project I was hired to do and (b) doing the work, but in extreme perfectionism. Taken 10 times longer than it should have; I've written 5 times the amount of copy I should have; I'm turning in work 10 days later than I originally said I would. In other words I'm doing exactly what I always do in such situations. What I've done for 35 years or so — since I was maybe 10 years old.

My marriage is in tatters — I descend into one of these hells and I start lying to my wife about where I am with the work; I can't keep jobs or clients; I don't hold up my end of the parenting, housekeeping, etc. My career is on its last legs. My health is deteriorating. And I can't stand myself, absolutely can't stand myself.

I need to hear some success stories — has anyone who's been where I am now really changed? How did you do it? Steps and fellowship? Hiring a coach? Therapy? (If one of the latter two, what should I look for?)

Bottoming out,

– Ian 


Reading your post Ian I was moved to sign up and share thoughts. I'm not sure how many Brits there are on PA but I guess procrastination is alive and well both sides of the pond and around the globe. In fact I feel sure the only reason we've had no contact from other intelligent life in the universe is that they just haven't got around to it yet...  Today, once again, I have done anything but knuckle down to a piece of writing I should have already finished for a client. I'm perfectly capable of doing it but the Ikea catalogue won my attention instead and the rest of the time I managed to crumble away with mindless dithering and distraction. There's another bit of work that I should also have done by now and more in the pipeline if I do a good job, though with the obvious risk that I will fall into deadline stretching and self-sabotage. The task itself is really not beyond me, if I could just stop distracting myself and get started! When will the inspiration and motivation arrive? Usually only when there's the absolutely bare minimum time left to get it done, usually through the night, even if I've already negotiated a deadline extension (which I will have completely wasted). It is a painful but oh so familiar mindset and even knowing that others are reliant on me (and that it is fairly well paid work) seems insufficient to prick my conscience or break through my chronic avoidance. I am a freelance writer, working from home, enjoying the freedom from 'corporate tyranny' but living under the tyranny of unchecked procrastination instead. I miss the camaraderie and creative spark of being in an office, though I guess I managed to waste away a lot of time there too! I revisited PA today having read great articles on it a few months ago (and then took no further action, of course) and read your post Ian, which made me feel like reaching out. Sounds like you are a writer as well and around the same age as me - I can trace my procrastination back to school days too. Knowing you're not alone helps but action (even a very small one) helps even more. Otherwise I find the tendency is to wallow around in stomach churning self-loathing which freezes me into even greater depths of inaction. I recognise your desperate state and know, despite renewed promises to myself whenever I end up working into the small hours to complete an overdue task, that I won't change unless I take positive steps to do so - signing up here is the first of those, let's hope. Don't hate yourself Ian, but know yourself, and that you are among like-minded friends, and take it one small step at a time. Is a list a helpful aid to see the wood for the trees? If you're like me it could be a very long list with several categories - work, housekeeping, parenting etc - but I might try that, celebrating even the smallest achievement. Give yourself a break, take a deep breath, and begin. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Slowly but surely, one foot in front of the other - it will still be quicker (and more relaxing/rewarding) than the usual approach. You are a great and capable person. It's time we changed and started towards the life we deserve. Here is a great place to begin. I can already see there are some great tips on this site about getting started on a task (and avoiding the temptations of the Ikea catalogue, though it is distractingly attractive when there's a deadline to meet and a soothing place to hide awhile when you're already late and fretting). Speaking of which, it's now 11.32pm and I am likely going to be burning the midnight oil to complete what I've had all day to do... Here we go again. Good luck Ian and everyone (me included!) 

Best wishes,



Appreciate your words, Bri-fi. Sounds like we do indeed have an awful lot in common, in both externals and ... that knot, inside, that just won't unravel and keeps tripping us up.

I'll be doing the same this evening as you — stuck in avoidance and demand resistance during the day, I'm now up against it. Long night ahead. I'll get to it and maybe hang in the chatbox.

- Ian 

Been there

Hi Ian,

I understand your despair. It will get better. Proof of that is that you are here. Yay!

I think I've really changed. I think one thing that made me change was getting the help of a therapist. A practical, encouraging person who taught me to recognize myself and my crazy perfectionism that leads to the "hell" you describe as hallmark of a high achiever. (She has had to argue with me about this, but I'm getting it.) You are a high achiever, no doubt. (5 times the amount of copy? Yeah)

The other thing that helped me was getting a job that has expectations of performance that are not out of balance. And that the work I do makes sense to me (most of the time!). That I can have small or medium failures and not be dismissed. That I can have successful accomplishments and be rewarded. That the work I do is generally as good as anyone's and there is camaraderie and shared purpose. I thank my stars every day. And I thank myself for visualizing and manifesting it when I was seriously unemployed and depressed. And I thank PA here for letting me show up and just be as I am. Big help.

When I read your post I think I'm seeing something that makes me think you should give yourself some slack.

"Trial project"? I hope that's not work "On spec".

Because that's the kind of thing that would make me distressed and secretly angry and I'd be liable to take it out on myself.  

Moral of my story? Stay aligned with my personal sense of justice. Don't get side swiped or cajoled into giving too much. Don't believe the haters. Don't believe the hype. Notice when I'm being appreciated as I am, instead of waiting to be spectacular. Notice when I'm causing trouble to people who care about me and make that my priority for a bit, until it is healed.

Take care of yourself, Ian. You can transform. My bet is you'll be surprised. 

Gnothi Seauton ~ Know Thyself

Staying the course...

Thanks Gwen. Liked what you say about staying aligned with values, taking care of relationships, practicing mindfulness. That <i>is</i> my path; the Steps and a change in my attitudes are the only things I've tried that have shown promise. 

I've had success with practicing sobriety and working the steps with regard to another issue, but the torture I put myself through around work is, I think, the chief knot. It seems really freakin' hard to make any progress. But what am I going to do other than keep slogging along? I don't see any other serious options other than working the Steps and hoping that it eventually takes me somewhere.

Re "trial project" — not spec work; I've been interviewing for a full time job, and while the company is mulling over their options they hired me on for some consulting work. I always think, "This time I'll do it right," but I pretty much show my cards right from the get-go: I do pretty high quality work but I just don't have the skill of setting realistic deadlines and meeting them. Ah well.    


Hello Ian, start posting every day.  That has helped me a lot.   It sounds like you are really struggling right now.   I'm certainly not qualified to make medical recommendations but I think if it was me I'd talk to some kind of therapist or counselor.   Can't hurt, might help!

You will find support here, many of us have been where you are.


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

Thanks Jo.

Yep, I'm struggling. Appreciate your support.


echoing what crazybug said...can't say I'm over procrastination but this site has helped a lot! The check-in board was what helped me first get going (just learning to "show up" here every day, then commit to small tasks and get them done, with support and accountability from other people here).

In undergrad I was always working on deadline...OK (with late nights) on small projects, late or sloppy on medium-sized projects, embarassing late on big research projects :blush: Now, with the help of this site, I'm working on my ph.d, which is one enormous research charge of managing my own hours, projects, etc...and am actually making good progress and seem to be more or less on schedule, which feels like a miracle to me.  

Also, if you haven't already seen it, pro has a great article that
describes how he/she caught up on tax returns that I found very
inspiring (and useful): 

There are lots of tools you can try here (check-in  board, chatbox, pro's articles, online meetings, phone meetings/check-ins, task buddies, book recommendations) and at least for me it was overwhelming at the beginning. It probably doesn't matter what you start with...just pick a place to start and we'll support you as best you can!

Glad to have you with us.



Thanks for the tips!

... and hey, if you're having some success changing the pattern while working on a <i>dissertation</i> — merely writing that word gives me the heebies — then whatever you're doing is looking pretty damn powerful to me. 


While I can't even begin to say that I'm over procrastination, I know that by coming here regularly and posting reasonable goals, I have made some progress.The chatbox has been a tremendous help in the moment to moment struggles with procrastination on a daily basis.

I wish I knew the answer for you but all i can give is my complete understanding and any support that's possible on this site. You can't undo what's happened in the past, but every moment you have the choice to improve the future.  We all just happen to need some help with the choices at times.

May you find peace in yourself and a way forward.

Thanks, Crazybug. Maybe I

Thanks, Crazybug.

Maybe I just need to let go of this career, at least for now. It's hard to do, as my identity is all wrapped up in doing this sort of work and I can't imagine how I'd make a decent living doing anything else. I don't want to give up on what I've been doing for 20 years, I really don't. But this just isn't working. I can't live this way much longer.

I dunno. But I'll take your advice and use the chatbox, for today.