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.

Pulling myself back from the Brink

My procrastination habit
started when I was in school. Recently, I found out from my mother than during
my early school days I used to come back home and do my school work on time. I
almost cannot remember such a period. What I remember from my school days is
cramming last minute, panicking before the exam because I haven’t covered my
lessons and despite that doing well. I think that started off a loop of
negative feedback in the sense that I felt rewarded for my procrastination. I
almost paraded it off as an asset. The procrastinating guy who still does well
in class.

When I got into university,
this habit became more and more entrenched. I would hand in assignments last minute
and by the time I was in my final year, I was regularly handing them in late
but somehow I did not get penalised (in retrospect I wish I did). I did well in
all my written assignments though and finished mostly on top of my class. Again
my bad behavior was rewarded. I brought this work ethic to my first job. I
would put off writing stuff for my clients until the last minute. I would take
back work every day. I would never finish work on time. I would always have
work hanging over my head. I would have to stay to the office till 12am
sometimes because I would have wasted most of the day inevitably being on the
internet or doing something unproductive. I was able to juggle everything for
almost a year without too many consequences and then things started unraveling,
spiraling out of control. Too much work, too little time. Clients snapping on
heels. I quit my job just as it was going to blow up in my face. I had ceased
to enjoy my work. If I had stayed on at work for even another 3 months, my behavior
would have ensured that I would have gotten in deep trouble or even fired for
my behavior.

Then I took time off to
travel and then decided to pursue my PhD. I spent 7 months ‘working’ on my
research proposal which should have taken at the most 1 month. I was rewarded
for this wait and unproductive behavior with a coincidental scholarship which
opened up at the same time that I had finished my proposal.

I had no idea how much my
procrastination habit was going to affect me in the years to come. I was
supposed to finish my PhD in 3.5 years. It is now 5.5 years. I could get away
with my undergrad and my first job with the constant deadlines, but here I was
on my own with all the time in the world. I avoided starting work, I avoided
sticking with it. The thesis took on monstrous proportions in my mind. I
developed anxiety as I shot past deadline after deadline. Every day I was
running this procrastination ritual. I told myself tomorrow would be a new day.
But my future self was no different from my past self. Unsurprisingly. I
developed a phobia of my work, I developed anxiety. I got myself on ADHD
medication. I abused the medication and it just made me obsessively
procrastinate while on the ADHD medication. Months flew by. I felt like a failure
before everyone’s eyes. Even worse, after my scholarship ran out, I had to
start paying student fees and my wife had to support me in the last 1.5 years.
I had to pay at least $20,000 of my wife’s hard earned money to cover my tuition
fees in this time. I felt guilty, I felt panicky. I felt terrible and that made
me procrastinate more.

I got around to reading
heaps of procrastination books, watching motivation videos, but that itself
became a tool of procrastination. It helped a little bit but then I would go
back to my behavior. I was lying to everyone about where I was at with my
thesis. I was losing my sense of self-worth. I was starting to feel like a
total failure. Somehow I have crawled towards the home-stretch. I have now
written most of draft chapters of my thesis and starting work on my
introduction now. I am still panicking and procrastinating constantly. What
should be one month of fully productive work has now stretched over more than 3-4
months. It is taking a toll on me mentally, physically, emotionally,
financially and with regards to my relationship.

That’s where I am at now. I
know all the tricks. I know all the tools of productivity. I have used it in
bits and pieces but I havn’t (so far) been able to persist with and sustain it
over a period of time. I am NOW going to change that. I just read a book called
The Little Guide to Un-Procrastination. These are my plans below.

1 When I focus and get stuff
done, I am undoubtedly happier. This is the truth. When I choose to
procrastinate, I end up feeling terrible. Do what makes you happier.

2. Face my fears – Fear of
being overwhelmed; Fear of the unknown; Fear of deadlines and hence failure;
Fear of writing ‘silly things’. I will not hide from them. I will look them in
the eye. All of these fears are in the future or in the past. The present is

3. I will work for 10minutes
at a time. I will congratulate myself and rejoice at each success.

4. I will break down tasks,
I will cut it down and I will cut it again. Until it is a 10min task. Then I
will throw myself into it because nothing else matters.

5. I will enjoy the process
because I am building my will power and work ethic. I will feel more powerful
with every 10min slot of work.

6. I will kill choice by
totally eliminating distractions. TV is unplugged, internet disconnected.

7. I will believe in myself.

I intend to keep a log in the special projects and masterlists section everyday, updating my successes each day so that there is a community of people
that I am answerable to.

Thanks for reading in if you made it to the end. I
didn’t intend this to be this long. It has been almost 40mts. Who says I can’t

@ Thesis

Your post resonated with me too. The more important something is, the more it is costing (mentally, physically, financially) the more paralysed I am about starting it. I also took a long time (6 years) for my doctorate, which was way, way beyond when my scholarship ended. I spent a lot of that time worrying that having taken so long over it that I would never get offered another job. However, I have not found that to be the case. In my case finishing my thesis did not make everything ok in my life (which I think I was hoping it would - maybe this is one of the reasons it took so long!). But I am glad I struggled on. Now I am struggling with other things of course, but I wanted to offer you some encouragement and good wishes from a fellow struggler.

I think it is also interesting that at one point you used to come home and do your homework on time. I think that is a very hopeful sign. I hope you can get back to being like that. 

v Best,



Thank you for sharing and please keep coming back.

I relate to so much of the "bedevilment of procrastination",  and have never found the kind of support and understanding I found here. No one understands (including me) and I thank my HP for leading me here.

I do remember my "preaddiction days" and not procratinating, and mistakenly thought recovery in other 12 step programs was all I needed. Not so. In some ways I think it is my HP's way of "Keeping me on my KNEES where I belong" It took so much to knock me down to begin with.

I went to check out a job today and was hired, so I think I am going to try it because I have nothing to lose, it seems perfect for me right now. I was 7 min late, and I relized when I left, I started getting ready 30 min. before I had to leave, I had the address, no directions, I had no idea what I was going to wear, luckly I found 2 shoes that matched because my dog likes to put them different places, my car did not have gas, so I took my son;s car, thank goodness I did not have to look for the keys or my purse. I did not think 7 min was a big deal, but the person did call my home to see where I was.

I thought about it for a bit, and realized,  it never occured to me to do any of those things or prepare last nite. This time I "got away with it" but that s not always the case.It did not cross my mind that someone expected me to be there at a certain time. No wonder some people get so angry and feel that being late is inconsiderate. I wonder is it a character flaw? habit? brain wiring?self sabotage? did not hit a botom? etc. etc. I don't know, but here I found others like me. I have made some shifts and am being restored to sanity and hope to continue, hope you do too. Keep coming back.You are not alone anymore and today is the new day (esp for #2, overcoming fears with courage, integrity and digity with the program),

Thanks vic, I will keep

Thanks vic, I will keep trying to come back. It's good to know others are going through this same positive climb to the top. Thanks for sharing the stuff you are going through. You know what I think is good, that we are at least aware of what it is doing to us and trying to change. I think that in itself is wonderful. Instead of just giving up.


I totally agree. V

I found the best way to make amends to husband and family was to do whatever it takes to recover from this stuff, and staying humble enough to know I need help. 

Re: Thesis

That's the thing about leaving it all to last minute; it can get done - sometimes well - but there comes a point where there is no last-minute, only procrastination. The book you mentioned seems worthwhile, but like you noted it's not that there aren't anti-procrastination tools already available, but for whatever reason they aren't being used.

The 10-minute strategy is golden. I find that I can gain momentum over a few days but only when I stop expecting a radical shift to a hard-working saviour of needy people who balances a personal life and multiple responsibilities all the time. Goals can stay big but they have to be handled incrementally.   

When was the last time you talked about this openly in a face-to-face conversation? Does your wife understand at all what you're going through? You mentioned some issues, but she might be just the person (besides folks like us) in which to confide. 

- "A procrastinator's work is never done."

I have discussed with my

I have discussed with my colleague who is also doing her PhD but I cant talk about it to my wife in full detail. She knows I've struggled with it through my Phd but i feel guilty and im just trying to finish it asap in the next month. it's taking too much out of us financially. She has been supporting me, so I just want to get it done and move on. Thanks for listening in!

Re: Pulling myself back from the Brink

Thank you so much, Thesis, for sharing your story. It helps me not feel so alone. I also started procrastinating at a very young age in school, and always, always got away with it, and still got straight A's. So I relate totally to the being rewarded for bad behavior. 

You bring up a very important point, which is something I've realized this week about how the wires are crossed in my brain, where "bad is good" and "good is bad." I'm trying to figure out how to overcome this, but I suppose only my Higher Power can truly root this out as my attempts have been unsuccessful. 

Please keep us updated on your progress with that book, those look like really good steps, and I have also found that I can't do "chunks" in more than 10 minutes either. I started to use that tool and it helped me, but for some reason I come against a wall after writing about 2-3 articles, and then I can't make myself continue for anything. I believe it's the "demand resistance" where I just can't do something when I feel that I have to (pressured). 

My subconscious thinking is extremely convoluted and messed up, the main reason I believe for this disorder. I may also be ADHD, though I've already got enough diagnoses in life! 

Thank you again for sharing your experience, strength and hope. 

p.s. I also feel that I am at the brink and I need to pull myself back from it or else I will completely tumble down and crash. 

Thanks Lavida, good to see

Thanks Lavida, good to see another writer in here. I'm updating in the "Finishing my thesis" thread in the special projects and master lists section. I think we cerebrally know what to do, but emotionally I think we are experiencing some sort of crossed wires as you say. 

I think the solution is to keep shining the light of our awareness on it and not to retreat into the habits we have established as a means of running away when we are faced with fear or sense of being overwhelmed. Instead, we will try to keep looking at problem rationally and realise that our bliss is in sticking to the task. The other option is just desperation, anxiety and failure. I'll try and keep coming back here everyday. 

Another technique that I came across was to offer any work done as a gift to your higher power. Whether it is washing a dish or turning on the computer, eating an apple or doing 10mins of work. To offer every action as a gift unto that all-knowing, all-encompassing Being whatever you want to call it. It worked for me when i actually did it but couldnt stick with it. Anxiety and procrastination comes when we identify ourselves with the work. My work, my success, my failure. The truth is we all do some work even if we are not doing anything. Breathing, blinking, thinking. Since we are thrown into work by just being alive, we should do what comes up without judging and as an offering unto that higher power. Sucess, failure, etc is all His problem. My only concern is to write a pargraph as lovingly as I can, just as I would peel an apple as lovingly as I can unto Him/Her.