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.

Obesssion about finishing things...

Sometimes I get partway done with something, and I realize it isn't what I expected, or I realize there is something more important I should be doing, or I don't need it, or whatever. The logical thing to do on such an occasion would be to abandon it and simply "move on." But often I don't want to do that, so I keep at it until the end.

Like TV shows. If I've watched about half of the show, I feel obligated to watch it until the end.

Or like food. I always finish everything on my plate, even if I am full before I've finished everything. Even if there is "just a little bit" left in the pot, I usually end up eating that too, saying "it's not worth putting that in the fridge."

If I find a musician I like, I usually try to get ALL their albums. (Not so bad for Boston but it was quite overwhelming with Mozart.)

Clearly watching TV when I should be doing something else is a form of procrastination, but is this overall phenomenon a product of perfectionism?

Anyone else have similar experiences?

Quit is a 4-letter word

"A quitter never wins and a winner never quits!"

I heard Felix Unger say that on "The Odd Couple" when I was a kid, and I never forgot it.  That inspiring truth made a lasting impression on me.  Who wants to be a quitter?

I too have to finish everything, because to "quit" doing it will make me a quitter.
Most recently, I am reading "The War of Art" which is on this site's list of Procrastination Books.  I started it over a week ago and am not even half way through.  Each night, I resentfully read a chapter or two.  I must be missing something because lots of people here have read it.  I don't get it, at all.  I hate this book, but I am determined to finish it because I'm not a quitter.

ONE thing being a quitter didn't apply to was that I DID quit smoking!
And continuing on a positive note, I DO want to quit procrastinating...

I was having the same

I was having the same problem until I came across a recommendation from David Allen of GTD fame.  His view was that you should commit to reading the first  50 pages of a book.  If by that time you really don't get on with it, then give yourself permission to stop reading it.  And it works for me!   There's something psychologically freeing about saying "well I've achieved my target - it's not my problem/fault that the book doesn't encourage me to read any further".


Thanks Hypatia

Hi Hypatia!
Thank your for your reply.  I was seriously considering abandoning the book read.  After what you said to at least give 50 pages a chance, I liked that!  I am not familiar with David Allen.  But you said it worked for you...  So at 8pm I counted the pages I have read thus far:  65 pages!  OK, I say enough!  The author had his chance to enthrall me, but instead "He bores me!"

Thanks again! I can't get that time back, but I don't have to waste any more (especially when I don't have time to waste)... Smile

Nice one!  I must admit, I

Nice one!  I must admit, I do like the concept of the "sunk time" fallacy that is described lower down this page.

David Allen has developed a business out of teaching people how to get themselves
organised/personal management.  The newspaper article that got me
interested is at    The website
for "Getting Things Done" is at but
all you really need to get started with his system is his basic book of that name.

yes - I've done this/do this

And I do feel it is in some way related. Probably the perfectionism link (not wanting to start something unless you can finish it)? And something about obsession.

I've finished books that didn't interest me, movies that bored me, and projects that no longer fit with plans. I have also stayed in relationships once they had turned for the worse.

I can think of only once I turned off a bad movie, and once when I did not complete a long-term project because something happened (outside of my control) to change the original plan.

Part of why I am here is because I am a little concerned that my current long-term goal (roughly 1/2 completed) is no longer relevant. I am trying to determine if this is just a period of burn-out, or a serious rift in my future plans. Hopefully the upcoming break I am taking from my studies will help me decide whether I should continue.

"Long-term goal 1/2 completed"

I'm not sure if your "1/2 completed long term goal" is a degree of some sort, but please allow me to reflect on my own degree dillema.

I just have to finish my thesis to get my MA, but procrastination is killing me. I'm entering my 4th year in what is supposed to be a 2-year degree. I won't be doing it full time, so I can still work this year.

 Even though I will not actually use my degree for the content of the degree (i.e. I'm not getting a medical degree to be a doctor or a law degree to become a lawyer.)

But for me, I feel that if I give up on this degree, I will have "lost." By finishing my degree I will be proving to myself and to a potential future employer that I am able to stick with something until the end and finish it.

I think I will feel much better about myself if I finish it than if I abandon the degree at this point. I'm sure that will feel so good, so satisfying, like a runner who finally crosses the finish line in a long-distance race. I might be in physical pain at that point, but I will know that I did my best, and that I was (in the end) up to the task.

yes it is a degree!

It's a 4-year degree, but with working full time, I can only tackle one class per semester, and they're mostly only .5 credit each. That means even if I take a spring/summer course I still only get 1.5 credits per year! But I just don't feel I can do more . . . as it is, I find that if anything ELSE gets added, i.e. moving, or the recent death of my mother-in-law, who was on life support for weeks, so we were back and forth to Toronto (a 2.5 hr drive) then I get overwhelmed and totally stressed out!

I am hoping this degree will lead to a career change so, looming at the end of all this work is looking for a job in a new field . . . at the age of 55 or so . . .

Hang in there!  You're

Hang in there!  You're further along with your degree than I am with mine.  I've got 160 out of 360 credit points (UK system).  I'm 56 and working full-time with a disabled husband.  Because of current circumstances I've had to opt for only a 30-pointer this year.

Ok, so I'm doing mine for personal development/interest so there's less a stress about it.  I'm very impressed that you are tackling it with a view to a major career change - that is real determination to do that at (y)our age.  With the life circumstances you have just been throughyou are entitled to feel somewhat burnt out!  Hopefully the break you mention will give you time to replenish your resources and take stock.


Wow! Half way there! What an achievement! And what a difficult time you've been through with caring for your dying mum-in-law! Don't give up now!Smile


I think it is so hard to work on a degree and work at the same time, but sometimes there simply isn't a choice. I have to stop saying "regret" about my own experience, but I often wonder if my own studies wouldn't have gone smoother had I not worked at the same time as pursuing my degree. 

I'm really confused about a lot of things right now, so this advice may not be valid, but I think no matter what we do, if we are working towards goals that is great, but we have to simply do our best in the process on the way to the goal. Focus on what to do NOW, but I guess at the same time keep a target for the future to give yourself direction. (Although I should not be one to talk about that....)

Good luck!

re: finishing things

i am with you on this. I face this almost daily. i DO believe it is part of the disease. I think healthy people are abandoning things all the time, because they do not feel that attachment to it that we do. That attachment is, somehow, part of the disease. or perhaps those of us who feel strong attachments even in good areas are subject to inappropriate attachments too.

Anyway i can tell you that i am very consciously working on throwing out the remaining food, or what's left in the pot. And abandoning something at work that's 90% done because it suddenly becomes the right time to do something else, or abandoning the TV show that i find it would have never started if i knew it was going to be like this. These are all current works-in-progress in my life.


the touch of the master's hand:

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

"Sunk cost fallacy" (or "sunk time fallacy"?)

This sounds like Sunk Costs ... but in this case, Sunk Time.

Loss aversion and the sunk cost fallacy

Many people have strong misgivings about "wasting" resources (loss aversion).

For example, when people purchase non-refundable movie tickets, and then decide the movie is not worth watching.
They might feel obligated to watch the entire movie, even if they find it unenjoyable.

They might feel simply that feel that walking out of the movie would be wasting the ticket price; they feel they've passed the point of no return.

This is sometimes referred to as the "sunk cost fallacy".

But … see … they’ve already sunk their money into buying the non-refundable ticket. They cannot get the money back.

So … the choice then is … Do they waste the rest of the evening watching the entire bad movie?

Or do they just walk out and reclaim the evening for a more enjoyable/useful activity?

Either way, the money is gone.

It is a fallacy for them to think that watching a bad movie is a way of good money management.

This also applies to clutter.

People have something that they no longer enjoy or use, but they long ago paid good money for this item. They feel they must keep it because they paid good money for it. So, it takes up space in their homes.

Keeping it will not get their money back. But they feel some sort of obligation to keep it, even though it's actually just taking up valuable space.

So a "sunk cost" is money you've already invested in something something nonrefundable and not resaleable -- money that you cannot get back.

A "sunk cost fallacy" is thinking that you have to keep something worthless to you, just because you’ve paid for it.

How would this apply to time?

I suppose that "sunk time" would be time/energy that you’ve already invested in a project – time/energy that you cannot get back.

Then perhaps a "Sunk time fallacy" would be feeling that you must continue to keep investing time/energy in a partially-completed project, even though it no longer serves you.

It's been very freeing for me to learn to be able to let go of that which no longer serves me, despite all the time or energy or money invested in it.   To do this, I have to look at the big picture and see my life goals.

-- movingalong

Sunk Time Fallacy

Not sure this is exactly the same, but i sometimes experience the "sunk time fallacy" in a different way...

 "I've done so much time binging to avoid this task tonight, I refuse to go to bed until I've made decent progress"

Which is sometimes followed by actual progress, but more often by more avoidance and escapism.... Resulting in me being up till 2 or 3 am, having done absolutely nothing. Would have been more worth my time to go to bed at 10. 

but ... "control" could also be a form of procrastination

Perhaps ... the idea of controlling your 'completion' of these objectives makes you feel 'in control', and therefore 'productive' ... and is a good escape from working on real priorities?  This has been true for me.  I can get myself wrapped up in hours of unimportant details, and feel very good about my perfectionism, but ... what I'm working on isn't actually important.  And meanwhile, I'm neglecting really important aspects of my life.