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.

How do I form a good habit and get rid of the bad one???

Hi all. I just signed up, great that such a site exists...!

I'd like to ask for a little bit of help.

I'm a chronic procastinator. I've been fighting this all my life.

It's been a journey that started thinking the problem was time management, then prioritizing, then organization, etc. etc. Fortunately I got good at all those things so it wasn't an entire waste of time.

The problem is that it wasn't until now that I think I got a handle on what the problem is.

It's the habit. You know which one, the moment when you are supposed to sit down and do your task. But you don't because the pain association in your mind is greater than the lesser pain of not doing anything, surfing the net, watching tv, etc.

Sadly, I only understood this pain-avoidance, pleasure-seeking theory after years of reading idiot methods that weren't the problem. (for example, fear-of-failure may make sense for someone out there, but not for me!)

But the saddest thing is that my particular career and activity I enjoy tremendously! Luckily I don't have to go dig ditches in winter or collect garbage (no offense meant to these fine jobs and the fine people that perform them for the rest of us).

So finally I have understood that I have to fight the habit of not starting and at the same time reconnect with the pleasure of what I do.

Has any of you been in this place? Do you have any helpful suggestions on how to form a good habit and destroy the bad one?

I just want to be able to DO IT, by default. Sit down and do eight honest hours of hard work and be done with it. But as some of you may know, it's not that simple.

Thanks a lot for reading this and I'll really appreciate any help...!

Habitual Mastery

I really enjoyed the Habitual Mastery series that Scott Young wrote earlier this year. And I put it to use, too!

One interesting observation from that series is that you can't "get rid" of a habit -- you have to build a new habit that's stronger than the old one. Unused habits may eventually decay and fade, but you have to find some new pattern to replace the old one.


Habitual Mastery

Thanks, flexiblefine. I just read the Habitual Mastery series. Very interesting. (Only freaked me out a little that Scott H. Young is a recent high school graduate. Actually, impressed the heck out of me.) Anyway, I'm trying to think about how to apply this to my procrastination (I like the idea of it being a habit, as I've changed a number of other habits in my life). And it seems to me that my procrastination is the result of a series of "habits" that are actually somewhat difficult to tease apart. It also strikes me that seeing procrastination as the end result of a series of smaller habits might make it easier to change than trying to tackle what feels to me like the big, amorphous procrastination-monster. For instance, one habit I realized I have is that when I get a new big project, I usually write the big project on my to do list and then feel overwhelmed looking at it, rather than breaking it down immediately and starting on a piece sooner rather than later. That seems like a habit that wouldn't be so hard to change (although realistically, I think I could only be actively working on a limited # of big projects simultaneously, so maybe that strategy doesn't make sense. Hmmm.)

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has tried to apply the Habitual Mastery theory/steps and if so, what your experience has been.

You might try GTD

If you tend to handle your projects that way, you might want to look into David Allen's "Getting Things Done" method -- you can find lots of resources online. In GTD, Allen suggests that you deal with everything on the front end, and that you break each project down into small actions. Basically, you don't do the project, but you do the actions that add up to reach the project's successful outcome.

If nothing else, you can set up a next action to break down a project, so you know what to do next about the project instead of feeling overwhelmed.

As for applying Scott Young's advice, I've done it pretty well as a way to combat procrastination. I decided that I wanted to adopt the habit of doing work first each day, and staying off the Internet for personal stuff until after noon. I was clear about what I wanted, and I kept track of how many days I did it. I successfully got through to 30 days, and things went well for a while.

I fell down a little on the reinforcement, so my old habits of getting on the web in the morning have resurfaced. Even so, it's less of an effort than it used to be to start my day with work, and my "work first" days tend to be much more productive than days where I do other stuff first.

I think it's time for another 30-day session, so I can have my progress in front of my face every morning.


GTD is helpful

Hi flexiblefine,

Thanks so much for the response. I'm familiar with David Allen, have read GTD, and use a program called MyLife Organized to manage my to do list. If I could get myself to regularly identify the next physical action on each project, that would help. (But I often procrastinate on doing that.) And sometimes even when I do identify the next actions, I struggle with actually getting the thing done. That's what I'm experiencing today. Ugh. Sounds like the way you adapted the Scott Young info was very effective & makes a lot of sense.

For myself, I've established (more or less) a schedule where I do certain self-nurturing activities when I first wake up because I find that when I do them, they put me in a good frame of mind for the day. There were times that I started working as soon as I got up (I have a home office) but then I would get resentful and get into a funk. Anyway, I'm just finding it very challenging to figure out what the actual "habits" are. Hmmm...actually, writing this is making me realize that one habit I don't have is set working hours (working for oneself definitely has pros & cons). So I should think about a regular schedule. Thanks, reading what you had to say & writing this has been helpful.

GTD highlights procrastination

In my case, GTD really put my procrastination into sharp focus -- I had nice neat lists of things to do that weren't getting done. :)

If you're using MLO (which lots of people recommend) and working at home, you've got all the external ingredients you need to keep your GTD system running. Of course, using those ingredients brings us back to procrastination. I use paper myself, because I collect fountain pens, but I sometimes have the same problem -- the scary inbox. Don't forget that figuring your actions out often feels good!

Working at home, you've got a bad case of what I call "the open schedule problem." There's always time for one more thing "before" doing some sort of work, and there are always lots of things to do at home that aren't work. Adopting a schedule and sticking to it isn't necessarily going to be easy, but it will help you keep your mind where you want it to be at different times of day.

Don't stop the self-nurturing stuff -- being good to yourself is helpful, and it will pay off in better work. Good self-talk is good stuff.


Thanks a lot flexiblefine.

Thanks a lot flexiblefine. I'll start reading tonight. But it looks promising...!

hello JRHP

well to form a good habit and get ride of the bad one
i read the 31 days trial of steve pavlina and starting to apply it to the very simplest tasks... for me the first good habit was to clean my teeth three times a day ( when i get up, after lunch, after dinner)i considered this task as important for me and did it during 30 days.. then i realized that i can do it and that even if the old habit ( not to clean my teeth after dinner...) was still in my mind but the new habit was strongly in place and i always do it...
after that my second habit was to make a new routine before to go to work and also during my days off when i get up ... ( 1/ do my bed & clean my room 2/ get dressed 3/ have breakfast) during 24 days and thks god it seems to work. now im training to develop the habit of being an early riser and its my thirth day... i hope that within 30 days i can be able to be an early riser...
My motto is : great things are not made by impulse but through small things brought toguether and one new habit each 30 days
12 habits a year.... it worth it