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.

Aha moment - why I'm sometimes late

This may seem obvious to some of you, but I've only just realised this because it happened to me today. Sometimes I'm late for something because it's getting close to time to leave, and I realise I have done ~nothing~ towards progressing the thing I 'should have' been doing beforehand.

Today's example was that I'd set myself the task of going through my in-tray before going to exercise class. The timer dinged - it was time to go - I hadn't 'got round to' looking in the in-tray (I'd been doing other 'busy' things), so I thought I'd just scoop up some of the easy stuff and deal with it (because nowadays I build in a little extra time for the journey - sigh - it's ~not~ supposed to be used for doing extra things before I go!).

So it seems I feel compelled to do at least a bit on the neglected task before I go. I'm a poor self-starter, but once I ~do~ get started I find it hard to stop (time bingeing) - the wheels are in motion, I've only just started, surely I can do just a little bit more before I go? etc. etc.

So I guess my solution (other than actually doing the thing I said I'd do - probably too big a step all at once!), is to accept that I've ~not~ done the thing and move on to the next (as long as the second thing doesn't depend on the first).

I do this, too.

Before I leave for a trip is generally the time that I'm suddenly able to deal with the piles on my desk and pay my bills, which tends to make me late for my trip.

I think that's the best way

I think that's the best way too. Just a few minutes of work on something it isn't ~that~ useful, it's good to get things done, but it's not worth coming five minutes late for.

If I do that last little bit of work and and show up late it's the worst of all worlds. Being late only stresses me out - I work much less effectively - and it makes a bad impression, agh!

Seeing myself

I am late A LOT and it's so often as the original post says--I was busy doing something I hadn't gotten around to yet, and I stopped to do it before I left. I notice that this has some built-in rewards: it's much better to tell my kids I was home late because I had "urgent" visits to make than to either do the visits on time and then tell them I was home late because I was time-bingeing on the computer before I went on the visits, OR to just do the vists on time and then come home, because then I can't time-binge at all! In other words, I get to do the time binge (sometimes it's "research" and sometimes it's just games) while nobody's looking, and do the significant chores when somebody IS looking--perhaps I not only like to indulge myself, but also to have an audience for how hard my work is. One of the weird things for me in my profession is that so much of it is like being self-emplyed. There's nobody to report to, nobody to be accountable to on a daily basis (although I do have to make a monthly report, but this congregation is so small and informal that I can bluff my way through that, or at least be very selective in what I report). There is little accountability, in other words. And if I'm honest, I carefully preserve this freedom from accountability. And there's another payoff in that--besides being able to time binge more easily, I get to do the demand-resistance dance: I can avoid/evade whatever I feel is expected or demanded and do the things nobody expects--which I prefer and for which I often get kudos and applause. I can justify doing these things as the "holier" thing to do, but I think the real reason I do them is that they aren't expected (and I'm also being perfectionistic with myself).

As to being late, I observed within myself that when I read your post, Norske, and got to the line, "it makes a bad impression," I felt anger and resentment. It made me realize that part of my perpetual tardiness is about carving out more space for myself that's FREE from the expectations of others (like reading in the bathroom). In my business, after all (and, heck, in being a mom), those expectations never stop. If I did everything on time, they'd just expect me to do even more (or, ahem, maybe I would expect MYSELF to do even more-heh).

I also observed within myself that if I were to admit to one of the people having expectations about me that I had decided to SCHEDULE time for me to do whatever I want, I would have a total panic attack about it! I have the hardest time allowing myself to own having any needs or wishes, unless they are for the good of someone else. So the lifestyle I have adopted is one of secretly time-binging on things I consider frivolous when nobody is looking, time-binging on things that seem more useful or productive when they are, making up for my guilt about goofing off or being late by doing the To Do's perfectionistically (and getting more late), getting resentful about such high expectations and standards, and then comforting or rewarding myself in some unhealthy way--with food or shopping as well as with more time-binging.

Raising the Limits

'those expectations never stop. If I did everything on time, they'd just expect me to do even more (or, ahem, maybe I would expect MYSELF to do even more-heh)'.

A classic! I've got this one too, but since I identified in myself this tendency to 'raise the goalposts' I've not suffered from it so much, because I've been able to remind myself that just because I finish Task A it doesn't necessarily mean I then have to do Task A+.

Neil Fiore talked about this in The Now Habit (which I find very difficult to put into practice, BTW, because he has written it in such a way as to positively encourage procrastination, but I'm slowly working my way through it second time round).

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Being next in line, the second to last thing

I completely relate to the phenomenon of simply NOT seeing the task until the pressure is off. This article is about that, I think.

Structured Procrastination

Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

So I'm going to have to get

So I'm going to have to get a seriously high powered job just to get me to do my homework. Of course, I'll get sacked pretty quickly because I'm not doing my job... Sigh.

BTW, I've taken 'procrastinator' off my profile, not because I think I'm 'cured' but because I'm beginning to think less like a procrastinator all the time, and 'removing the label' is my way of marking this significant direction in my life. If I don't have the label, then I don't have to live up to it.


My last post was too negative!

So I'm just posting again to say I'm getting much better at this - just bringing something to consciousness can be a huge help. Once I notice I'm doing that thing again, it's so much easier to just stop it!