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.

Signs of Compulsive Procrastination

Compulsive procrastinators may not have all the signs listed here, but if you identify with many of these characteristics, you are probably a compulsive procrastinator.

  1. Disappointment is a way of life. We constantly disappoint other people and ourselves by not keeping our promises.
  1. We have enormous difficulty getting started on new projects, or transitioning from one project to another.
  1. We have a very poor sense of time, chronically underestimating or overestimating how long a task will take us to complete.
  1. We have difficulty organizing projects by breaking them down into steps; we don't know where to start, even when we're willing to start.
  1. We are surrounded by clutter and disorganization in our homes and work spaces.
  1. We are regularly late for appointments.
  1. We are acutely aware of what we should be doing, or think we should be doing, and oddly out of touch with what we actually want and need.
  1. We feel uncomfortable saying "no" to requests from others, and instead express our resentment through the passive resistance of procrastination.
  1. We suffer from Demand Resistance, causing us to do anything and everything except the one thing we most need to do.
  1. We are short-term thinkers, focusing on short-term pleasure while ignoring long-term well-being.


awareness of my compulsive procrastination

I am a new P.A. member and it has been such a relief to finally figure out what has been going on for me. This check list above has really helped me to identify where I am going wrong and to finally admit I need help, and the right sort of help. (I've also had a little fun with this check list in this post! What's the opposite of compulsive procrastination? )

I've been in counselling for a while to try and get me out of this helpless, debilitating & illlogical state that I keep finding myself in time & time again, that just makes no sense to my rational mind. But now that I'm describing my procrastination and a compulsive task avoidance more clearly this has help my counsellor to see if in my case this might be an addiction and if so to consider how I might break this addictive cycle. 

I am so grateful to P.A. and this website, and your support in my fraught yet hopeful recovery. 

New to the group


 I'm new to the group.  Can anyone fill me in on how this works?  I have a research paper that I need to work on today.  My boyfriend broke up with me on Friday, so I'm finding it really difficult to stay still so that I can concentrate on this paper.  Any suggestions?

I'm very grateful to have found this group.  Procrastination has wreaked havoc in my life for way too long.  It has robbed me of a life!  



signs of compulsive procrastination...

i found this website a couple of weeks ago after i finally came to the self-diagnosis that my disorganised/frustrated/overwhelmed/cluttered lifestyle is actually caused by a CONSTANT second by second procrastination of every little thing i have to do, pick up, put away, deal with, day in, day out. reading the words in the articles were like seeing a brain dump of everything i was trying to put together, all spelt out for me... what i am now wondering is how bad am I?? I have 8 of the symptoms above, on a constant basis. The one I am making good on lately is number 1. I am so tired of dissapointing people and being judged by that that i simply do everything in my power to not. but it takes almost ALL my focus, concentration and effort for that day. how many others here relate to that many of the symptoms? and if so, how are you attacking them? one at a time, or a general sweep over everything? i realise i am a chronic procrastinator now, but how chronic compared to others? just trying to get some perspective...

Welcome tmfriz. You have

Welcome tmfriz.

You have come to the right place.

I hope you'll stick around and find support and encouragement here. Lots of the issues you mention are addressed in various places on the site: the tools of recovery, the 12 steps and various forum discussions   and maybe you'd find this useful:

best to you.

For me recovery is not one task at a time, but one minute, one half hour, one day at a time....

Procrastination, yes, but compulsive?

I don't really recognise myself from this list. At work (I'm a teacher) and home I am one of the most organised people I know. I keep meticulous records for everything, never arrive late,  get work done in advance.

Yet... when it comes to writing my PhD thesis, I am a classic procrastinator. In fact, I use the excuse of getting all my other activities organised as an excuse not to face the thesis-beast. I am always very busy, sometimes resent all the extra things I have to do for everyone (I have two children, act as secretary and accountant to my workaholic doctor husband, as well as teach full time), but I don't procrastinate about these things. But when finally I have time for my thesis, well, I have all the excuses in the world not to procede.


Sorry, one more thing for Teefee61...

Have you heard of "Getting Things Done" by David Allen? His way of thinking about projects is really helpful for reducing the overwhelm of large projects, such as a thesis.The main thing is to think in terms of "Next Actions" (NAs), i.e. the very next thing you need to do to move forward on your project (something small, that you can do in one sitting). You don't even need to plan out the entire project in detail (although you can if you like!), you only have to look ahead to the very next action you need to take (if there's something else you need to do first before you can do this action, then it's not a "Next Action", the "something else" is the NA). And then put this NA on your todo list, rather than the name of the project itself. If you have "write thesis" as an item on your todo list then all you will do is feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. In reality, writing a thesis is not a task, it's a project, and should be treated as such.

I'll stop now before I take over this comment section!

Good luck!

Miss Dipsy


You're right, you don't sound like a compulsive procrastinator, in fact you sound fairly normal! I know lots of postgrads and every single one of them procrastinates over their thesis! I think the trouble is that writing a thesis is such a HUGE task, with so much riding on it, that it is easy to be overwhelmed and daunted by it. It is also something where it is entirely down to you to do it; no-one else tells you what to do when, and you have to provide the structure and motivation. Most of your other tasks relate to other people, so firstly you are held to account by someone else, and secondly you can justify doing them because it feels good to do things for the people we care about (this is particularly true of many women, who almost define themselves by their role as mother, wife etc, and are socially conditioned to feel fulfilled by doing things for others).

You sound like a very busy person who finds it hard to justify doing things that are for yourself rather than someone else. When you "finally have time for your thesis" (which I'm guessing is only after you've worked really hard for lots of other people) you probably just feel like doing something fun or undemanding to give yourself a well-deserved break! I procrastinate a lot more when I'm very busy and overstretched, and I think part of it is that deep down I feel like I *deserve* a break.

I know you've probably heard all of this before, but try breaking your thesis write-up into small, managable parts, and just aim to do one part at a time. Even if that's only doing 5 minutes work at a time, it'll help. I sometimes find it easier to get going on big projects if I tell myself "I'll just do X" (where X is some tiny, almost insignificant task, like "write a few sentences" or "look up that reference" or "find the relevant page in a book and bookmark it"), it makes it easier to make a start and I usually find that I carry on and do a lot more than I aimed to do. Also, have all the materials you need for it close to hand, so you can start work at a moment's notice without spending ages gathering the stuff you need. Do everything you can to make it easy to work on your thesis and eliminate excuses. If you are a relatively organised person most of the time, how about actually scheduling time in your calendar to work on your thesis? This wouldn't work for me as I'm too disorganised and un-self-disciplined to stick to a schedule, but it might help you! You sound like you are great at honouring all of your commitments to other people, so how about honouring the ones you make to yourself?

Miss Dipsy

I surrender

Ok, that did it.  I surrender.  I admit I need help.  #1 and #6 is how I started my day.  I missed my flight this morning.  I was on the agenda to speak for 2 hours at a leaders' meeting in LA.  I was just going for the day, returning this evening.  I have disappointed 25 leaders who were looking forward to a lively discussion.  I am highly embarrassed and take full responsibility for my actions.  I DO NOT want to live like this any more.  I want to be on time, start projects on time, finish on time and not have to work until 4am because I'm doing the work I should have done3 weeks ago.  I really need encouragement and support.