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.


So, a day after returning to work from an all-too-brief vacation, I
received "the talk" from the company President that I knew would come eventually. My turn around
time for case reports is "unacceptable" and my contract will not be renewed
unless there is a significant improvement in short order.  This was
accompanied by an incongruous statement of how supportive my clients
are.  Um, if it's not the clients, then it's just you guys that are
unhappy with my work? Well, it's their company. I was also offered the
golden opportunity to have someone with 3 years of experience in the
field "help" me to improve my performance.  I politely declined that

It is a conundrum.  I don't want to lose the job, because
my employment prospects are dim at present.  But I don't really want to
keep the job, because I don't feel I am doing it well, and I am
certainly not enjoying the grinding slog.  I am trying to force myself to do
something I am trained to do, with plenty of experience (let's say a tad
more than 3 years!), but that I am not particularly good at.  So I am
always anxious, always looking to avoid doing the work, always finding ways to
procrastinate to ease my stress.

Right after this meeting, which occurred right at the end of the "normal" work day (5ish; not when I ever leave work, of course), I thought, "Okay, I have to get serious and get a few things done tonight.  I'll work on X."  Immediately followed by, "Hmmm...maybe I should work on Y, instead." It's now 8:38 PM and I have done neither X nor Y.  Only sat and worried, considered the pros and cons of working on X and Y, ate a miserable snack in the cafeteria, and did some online banking.  Now I am writing this, and planning to throw in the towel for the day.   

I am falling from a fair height in the forest canopy, hitting branch after branch on the way down, but I cannot seem to stop myself.  To be honest, as my work and personal life and even health have deteriorated, I can't even say I have made a determined effort to stop myself.  I am frozen by fear and uncertainty, my mind preoccupied by my unhappiness, and I repeat the futile cycle every day.  Get up tired, struggle to work, struggle at work, stay very late trying to find the magic combination to unleash productivity and self-confidence, go home disappointed, procrastinate about going to bed, trying to redeem the day, finally go to bed much too late.  It's like Groundhog Day, without the self improvement.

But...tomorrow really is another day. I have to make a conscious decision to break this cycle and save this job; more importantly, I need to choose to save myself.  I can't do it by just continuing to repeat the same failed strategy.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I don't have enough self-confidence to stick to a single strategy, so I go back and forth about the best way to progress, and time slips away. As tonight has illustrated for the umpteenth time, I can't follow two plans.  I have to find a way to follow one long enough to see if it works, and not allow fear to derail me so that I flip-flop into exhaustion with nothing to show for it.  I haven't really hit rock bottom, but this is as far as I want to go.

For the next week, until I have to travel yet again, here is The Plan:

1. Work twelve hours

2. Work 4 hours on category A.

3. Stop after 4 hours, take a break.

4. Work 4 hours on category B.

5. Stop; take a break.

6. Work 4 hours on category C.

7. Stop; take a break.

8. Spend two hours on myself, even if it's just sitting in a chair staring at the ceiling.   Two hours for myself with no guilt is the goal.  Easier said than done. But what about chipping away at my effectiveness trying to "steal" time for myself constantly?  I have to feed that meter. Just accept it.

9. Go to bed; sleep 8 hours.

10. Get up on time and try again.

Will this work? Will I get caught up on everything? Probably not.  But I am not caught up on everything now.  Will it be this easy and solve everything? Of course not.  My life is a complicated mess.  But putting off doing anything won't help.  What if the strategy fails?  I am failing now, and I don't have a strategy. 

Okay. SInce it is the end of the day, i will start with item 8. My two hours for myself begin now.  Back to the regular checkin page tomorrow.  This rant was too long for that. 

good omem?

Maybe you will find hope in this, in my story? I hope so cuz i'm routing for you! I am struggling to get started today (so what else is new). I was catching up on posts. I was thinking about my work.

I have been working this program hard for 2 years, and i was just now before i read your post considering how I have had now 2 annual performance reviews where my needs for improvement does NOT include something about getting more work done on time. It was probably 10 consecutive years, maybe 15 with something like that on my needs for improvement section. The only reason it wasn't on their in the early years of my career was because i could stay up all night and get enuf done that people were happy.

So i'm thinking about my work recently and how people perecive things in my workplace, and i realized, i get enuf done. I get more than some, less than others. About average. Average for an extremely talent and productive group of people. I was just thinking, i produce a solid amount. I mean it's not in my "strengths" section, but is has legitimately move off of my areas for improvement section. As unbelievable as it sounds to me to think that about myself, objectively i have to admit, it's true.

So that's what was going thru my mind as i browsed to your post here.

All that to say, recovery is definitely possible. "slogging" would be exactly how i'd describe my past 2 years. No flashes. No cures. Few insights. Nothing earthshattering. FEWER all nighers. Just day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, getting thru. Applying the tools, praying, using this incredible resource of all these like-minded, like-disabled people who are so supportive and understanding. I feel so incredibly blessed to be here, with these people, in this environment. It has helped me so much. It's a gift from God.

I dont have much to say about your situation. You're obviously a smart and talented person, and you're dealing with a very difficult situation.

Some things that helped me with work is to look at my situation from my boss's point of view. He can obviously see that i'm talented, but is frustrated with the work output. I remember the day of conversations about using time management techniques, or making a schedule, or various prioritization schemes. Little did either of us know at that time how useless those would be.

It was really easy for me to see my boss as my opponent then. Until i realized, they are really actually trying to helpe me, they just have no idea how. *I* had no idea how, in those days.

I think that comment about your clients being happy is really, really important. They did not have to mention that. But from their point of view, i bet, they can see the potential value to their company having you on board, if they could just get the productivity out of you. I see some real upside, some real Hope there.

the touch of the master's hand:

fall down seven times, get up eight - japanese proverb


Thanks clement

I appreciate your kind and supportive words.  I guess part of me has been hoping for years that somehow, somewhere things will "click," but it obviously hasn't happened.  Maybe my goals and expectations need a little reality check. 

I agree that I don't think the boss *wants* to sink me.  He's probably perplexed by the disconnect between objectively poor productivity but (reportedly) supportive customers.

So I will keep at it, as you say, " by day, hour by hour. minute by minute, getting thru."

Thanks, again.

re: 4change

your comment about your boss being perplexed has got me thinking about the model we want to instill in our bosses about who/what we are. No doubt you're right, he's perplexed. In fact, all our bosses are probably in somewhat the same boat.

I am feeling maybe it's something good to foster. It's accurate, after all.

It might help our work situations to help our bosses build a model of us. Taltented but poor work habits. Capable by slow. Bright but disorganized. All these are things our bosses might be able to get their minds arounds, and might at least partially direct their efforts to help our productivity in a direction that might actually help.

BTW, coincidentally (if you believe in that sort of thing) there's a new person here with boss issues too :

As for wanting it to "click." That one is really a mystery to me. I dont konw why i gave up it clicking and why the timing of it.. I think it's something like i had accumulated enuf evidence that it became overwhelming. Sort of like law: not even a preponderance of the evidence, but beyond a reasonable doubt. My 10,000th failure finally tipped the scales and beyond reasonable doubt was achived. If that's the case, i'm not sure that i would have any advice for anyone else on the same journey except keep trying until you reacht that point. It was one of the disadvantages of AA in the early days that it only worked for people who had hit rock bottom. Witness that a lot of people come here when they've lost spouces or jobs over their procrastination.

the touch of the master's hand:

fall down seven times, get up eight - japanese proverb


hello 4change and clement

It's me, the one with boss issues, too. I still can't get over the wonder of finding this group of people who just get it. Your story is so familiar to me, 4change, that it's painful. I understand, boy do I understand. And no matter what happens, I believe you've got far more good things in you than you know.

To clement: I guess I haven't thought of the situation much from our bosses' point of view, but what you said about our model of talented, bright and capable but slow, disorganized and with poor work habits--it's how my own teachers have described me since grade school. My old editor-in-chief (retired now) used to complain to her colleagues how when I'm good, I'm good, but my work habits suck to hell and back, and that she dislikes having to deal with me because it was like I was continually frustrating her. (Thank God our new editors are WAY nicer than her.) It must be baffling for them, and if I could pull my head out of my own depression long enough I'd sympathize. I'd hate to be managing me. In fact, most of the time I can't manage me.

Is there any use wondering why we're like this? I wish I could finally get it, but maybe that's like wishing for a magic cure again or something. You're right; nothing works except slogging through it, again and again and again.

You can do it, 4change. We all can. ^_^ 

bosses frustrated with us

thanks celeste ann for reminding me of perhaps the downside of the model i am suggesting. I have experienced the phenomena of a boss who finds it frustrating / costly to have to micromanage me, double checking on deadlines and work progress. I dont have that now ( so i guess i gotta give thanks for my blessings ) but i have had it in the past.

Again, from boss's point of view, they have 10 people, all with varying talents, but one who they always have to check on or nag.

It is unfortunate to have to be that to my boss. I dont know what to do about it, but i think it is good for me to remember / understand it.

the touch of the master's hand:

fall down seven times, get up eight - japanese proverb


Thanks clement

"Witness that a lot of people come here when they've lost spouces or jobs over their procrastination."

Yes, that would include me.  Thanks for the additional insights.  


Oh dear, your post was like a documentary of my life after 35.  Apparently what my colleagues, clients and friends considered creativity, craftsmanship and a certain enigmatic charm - in fact, the very characteristics that inspired employers to hire me - became viewed in later years (often by younger supervisors) as impudence, stodginess and unreliability.  Their manipulative management techniques included criticizing and shaming me, which eroded my self-confidence until, like you, I would freeze whenever there was work to do....then start the downward spiral of addictive procrastination.

Eventually I did find work in my field that I usually enjoy, in a virtual firm where expectations are high only for end results and client satisfaction. My geographically remote boss accepts my atrocious work habits (binge-exhaust-binge-exhaust) so long as the team and clients are happy.  But of course I mess up even here: Lack of structure is very challenging. I'm the worst boss I ever had!  

PA was a life-saver: Check-in, chat, the loving fellowship here, the tools, asking my Power Greater for minute-by-minute help to get through tasks I deplore...invaluable. Yet, I guess because this is what addicts do, I drifted away from PA for awhile last year. But when a family health crisis prompted me to be evaluated, I learned I have ADD/ADHD - for which the recommended (non-Rx) solutions are: Structure! Accountability! Tools!  Basically, PA ... so I returned, striving to show up daily (thanks, vic).  

I hate that I have an actual diagnosable mental condition (btw, important to say not all PA-qualifiers do).  But awareness (Step 1), acceptance (Step 2) and action (Steps 3+) are the way out for me. I sure as heck don't want to go back where I started.  

Anyway, you are not alone. I hope that gives you hope, 4change. I'll be praying for you today as I ask my Power Greater to help all of us who struggle with addictions.  Personally I believe we are His "special needs" kids and He loves us exactly as we are, more than we can think or imagine.  He knows what we have to overcome, and values every sigh, tear and tiny victory on our path.

Thanks Agnus

I would suspect that my diagnosable mental condition now is most likely depression, which magnifies my challenges across the board.  Thanks for sharing your experience, which does have some striking parallels to mine.  I am still looking for the work that I will usually enjoy, but I fear that my negative mental state at present excessively colors my perspective.  Being away from my children and feeling unable to do anything about it just takes the wind out my sails.  But continuing to struggle is important, as is the realization that one is not alone in that struggle. Thanks.


More hugs for 4change.  You know we understand.  

Maybe you should take the boss up on his suggestion - although you took it as an insult to your experience, it's possible that having a coworker to talk to/be accountable to would give you a boost, and it would show that you are willing to work on your performance issues.   And who knows, maybe the kid would have some good ideas!  

Sounds like you are considering a career change in the future.   Might be worth finding some counseling/coaching to use as a resource.   I don't know how open you are to talking to a therapist but imo everyone can use one, especially during traumatic life changes as you are experiencing now. 

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.  Try again.  Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett

Thanks journey

I appreciate your kind words.  You are right, less experienced people can certainly have wonderful ideas and insights.  But I have a philosophical problem with the idea that there is only one way to do things.  I have always resented that model.  It's doubly humbling when I am, in essence, being told to pattern myself after a 30-something eager beaver.  I just don't see it happening.  I have different strengths, and significant weaknesses, like my procrastination,  Still, talking to her wouldn't hurt.  I just don't intend to try to be a carbon copy of anyone to please the boss.  I really like the idea of counseling.  I think that could go more directly at the root of my problems.  Thanks.


Great!  I bless the therapist who pointed me in the right direction years ago.  Go for it!

PA is wonderful, and we are pretty much awesome, but you can't beat talking to someone face to face.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.  Try again.  Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett


Sorry to hear of your struggles.

Somehow I keep hoping you will find a job you like better with shorter hours, and maybe closer to where your children live? 

But I guess it's none of my business, and I know that you, like me and like the rest of us, have to find a way to deal with what's on your plate right now.

Hoping and praying for you that things will improve, and that you find the strength to do what you need.

Thanks findingaway

Indeed, you have put your finger on a big part of the problem.  I need this job right now, but I don't want to need it.  It's too difficult for me in my diminished mental and emotional state, I have lost my enthusiasm for it, except in occasional bursts, and most important of all, I am away from my daughters, which breaks my will.  The other part is, of course, my chronic procrastination, which is problematic for me under the best of conditions, but which I have always tried to work around through persistence.  Now I am just flailing.  Thanks for your supportive words.