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.

Anyone find success at not procrastinating a bit exhausting...?

Hello everyone.

I am finding this site incredibly useful and have been posting a daily check-in list. As I said under Success Stories, it really does seem to be working for me. One problem, though,  that I wonder if anyone else has when they're doing well and not putting things off...I'm really tired and at the same time weirdly 'wired'. I'm finding it a bit hard to switch off and relax as I've gone from someone who spends a lot of time looking out of the window and not getting things done and leaving lots of space between activities - to someone who works non stop and fits in little bits of time to do emails etc between bigger tasks. I'm really pleased with the change but I do also need to relax! It all feels a bit frantic - I don't think I can really keep up life at this pace! I guess I'll find a happy medium and should perhaps put 'do nothing' on my check in list from time to time. Hm, yes, maybe i'll try that!

Thanks to anyone who reads this.



Read time bingeing discussion and...

...I do think it's very interesting and absolutely agree that doing tasks in short bursts is a good, productive idea and stops us thinking we can only start something if we've got a whole day set aside etc

BUT there's one thing - or maybe it's a sort of tone - that I don't quite agree with. I don't think all time bingeing is bad. As the message here says about the 'muse', sometimes it's really productive /and/ pleasurable to do one thing for ages. I /don't/ think it's the same as, say, alcoholism, where to be in recovery you just can't drink at all. For example, if I have the time to read and read and read either for work or pleasure and I'm not getting bored or slow or putting something more crucial off - then sometimes I think that's fine. The time bingeing thread talks about narrowing of focus being a Bad Thing. But I don't think we'd have had many artistic or scientific geniuses around without some moments of narrow focus! When I was a kid I used to read for hours on end and it was bliss. I like to recapture that sometimes. 

I don't think i'm ever going to stop being a pleasure-seeker. I'm just learning the pleasures of getting things done rather than putting them off. But whilst I absolutely see that it's crucial that I don't just swing the other way, burn out and give up - sometimes I'm going to have a day off and do nothing but re-read Jane Eyre. 

E.BE xx

This is why we have the tool of "Avoid Time-Bingeing"

Time-bingeing isn't just about
bingeing on doing something un-useful.
It's also about bingeing on overworking on your tasks.

Here is the wording of the Recovery Tool:
"Avoid Time Bingeing: One reason procrastinators dread starting is that once they start they don't let themselves stop. Plan to work on a task for a defined period of time, then set a timer. When the timer goes off, you're done."

More info in this article:

Yes, exactly!

I definitely do this, too! It feels like either I'm doing nothing or I'm working like a madwoman. And the working like a madwoman makes it unsurprising to me that I'd eventually switch to doing-nothing mode. I'm comforted that I'm not the only one facing this challenge.

That's exactly it!

Nothing or Madwoman, that's me too. And then I get exhausted and dazed and end up staring at the work hardly knowing what it is. So, tomorrow, I'm going to try and set time for all the tasks.

An issue will still be work email and all the tasks of replying and contacting others and finding information for people that it sets in motion, though. It's hard to set a time for that as you don't exactly know what it will bring when you open it. On days full of teaching and meetings then I'm limited as to how much I can open it, though, so I'll just have to try and put my own limit on it on other days. 


Glad I'm not the only one!

How great to read all these comments. 

Interesting ideas - that our frantic bewilderment could be withdrawal from addiction...or a new addiction. The idea that we're all-or-nothing people rings true to me. And that sense that when the Getting Things Done Muse is around, we'd better go crazy working before she disappears again...

Well, today I'm going to add some Do Nothing/Have Coffee (er...maybe that had better be Camomile Tea)/text partner moments on my check-in list. 

8.30 am and just checked through work and student mail!


If the Muse is finally talking...

After long periods of exasperating procrastination and minimal productiveness (and looming deadlines), if I finally get "on a roll," I am AFRAID to stop. Afraid that if I stop there will be another huge period of being ineffective.

Although I don't "believe" in "Muses," there's some primordial part of me that demands that I keep on working as long as the Muse is talking to me. The closer a big deadline is, the more likely I am to stay at work overnight, trying to get as much done as I can before the Muse deserts me.

It's an exhilarating feeling to get work done after consistently failing to do so in the prior weeks/months. And it is so hard to leave work and go to bed at a "reasonable" hour given that I am most productive and most relaxed starting at about 1 AM. Sigh. I've been treated for delayed sleep phase disorder and I am perfectly capable of working 9 AM - 5 PM; however, my productivity during those hours of the day is wretched.

Maybe there's something about having an "addictive personality" that makes it almost impossible to do things in life "in moderation"? Right now, I would be thrilled to be productive enough that it makes me tired. But I know that that's no way to live either.

Waiting for the Muse

Piqued and E.EB, As a procrastinator, all i did was waiting for the Muse to visit.  When she did, life was gloriour:  time slows down, i have crystal clear mind, i see connections that i never saw before, i understand how the universe works and i only need to write 1 draft and everything just fall in place.  I can just work non-stop while time stands still for me.  But, when she is not there -- which is 90% of the time -- i am the most miserable, useless and unproductive person in the world.  Yet, having consorted with the Muse and been praised for the work i produce when she is with me, i live in terror of what others would think of my work, if she is not there.  On the balance, i think I lost 90% of my work and produced far less work because of her.  I realize that this description makes me sound like an addict, even though i don't use any substance...don't even drink wine. 

I have only joined PA 3 weeks ago.  So, I don't know how i will do without the pleasure to time-binging with the Muse.  On the one hand, i loth to give up the blessings of hyperfocusing on just one thing for days/weeks.  On the other hand, I really want to be productive and have a live.  So, I am going to try to work in bursts and see how i manage without the Muse for a while.  



Hamlet, your description of glory, misery, and concern about your reputation all sound hauntingly familiar. I have always suspected that using cocaine would produce a profoundly amplified version of the intellectual high that I experience when I'm "in the flow" mentally. That is, of course, the reason why I could never, ever try cocaine. Once I had experienced it, I can't imagine ever wanting to live without it.

So, yes, I guess I am addicted to the mental high of time-binging with the Muse and accomplishing so much over the course of a few days. Thanks for the helpful analysis and best of luck with working in bursts. That seems like a good approach.


...buck up and patiently woo the Muse... Henry James

Isn't it ironic that we who

Isn't it ironic that we who are terrified of becoming addicted to substance should succumb so readily and willingly to the company of the Muse. 



The elusive muse

This all sound so familiar, Pigued. I am truly terrified of abandoning the muse when sheis with me, especially in my writing. I adore her rare visits. I implore her to stay like a possessive mistress, hang on to her ankles as she leaves the house which she does all too quickly after her lightning visits. And I am sure that my clinging behaviour is one of the reasons that she visits so rarely and leaves so soon. If she did stay longer I would stay locked up with her for days, weeks even, prepared to starve to death rather than let the magic moment end. AS things stand, she never stays long enough for me to grow wan or binge with her. I am left with her boring, ploddy surrogate old faithful.  

I do think that the pomodoro trick is good for the 1st draft, though, just for making sure the writing has momentum even if it may be lacking in quality. I find as soon as I fall into a treading water stage my motivation goes down the gurgler. And I am grateful to you, Hamlet, for pointing out the Muse's preference for later drafts. she is obviously a being of some discernment and needs to be wooed with something better than cold tea and stale sandwiches. 

I am considerably less emotionallyy engaged with the household task muse, and often ignore her when she comes and when she an I do from time to time manage to hook up I know I have completely unrealistic expectations about what we can achieve, both in terms of time and result. And breaking big tasks down just makes me more aware of how overwhelming the big ones are. My household task muse is completely useless at motivating me, really it is an affair that never properly got off the ground.


Breaking down big tasks

"And breaking big tasks down just makes me more aware of how overwhelming the big ones are."

Yes. It is such a relief to know that others have the same response to the breaking-tasks-down approach. The approach is logically sound, and yet it has emotional pitfalls. The more the big task is broken down, the more real and intimidating it becomes. I can't tell you how many huge planning lists I've made only to become too afraid to look at the list after I make it. Goofy and infuriating, but true.

...buck up and patiently woo the Muse... Henry James

 For me that approach


For me that approach works when a day seems so overwhelming that getting out of bed is a challenge. When you know you have so so much to do and you feel like pot of cold oatmeal. Then it can be helpful to break it down into very small fractions and focusing only on that fraction until it's done, like "ok, I have to put on clothes. That's all that matters right now". And before you know it, you have completed something, and that's a good feeling.

  Bigger projects benefit from being broken into smaller sections I think, but some work that depends creativity, solution finding and such, is a bit difficult to break down, as you don't really know the end result yet.

It interesting how different people are. Some get motivated by a big bulk of work, knowing that when they're done with that, they're really done. Others, like me, like to take it bit by bit until you realize that you're almost done.  






'The best way to get something done is to begin.'


Cold tea and stale sandwiches, indeed. I rarely have anything to offer her Highness. Mole, you are brilliant! Of course the Muse needs to be wooed. She is not going to show up if I am cowering in bed, nor has she ever made an appearance while I was futzing around online. She only visits when I am making a real effort, whether or not it is successful.

For me, "the Muse" represents a mental state in which the horrible static of anxiety/depression lifts and I can actually think clearly. Yes, I'm one of those "Generalized Anxiety Disorder" sorts, and the diagnosis is spot on. I searched PA for others with GAD, and instead found others who had been misdiagnosed with GAD when they sought help for procrastination.

Note to self: Must woo the Muse.


I hadn't heard GAD as an acronym before. It sounds like a wretched thing to have to live with. I try to imagine what my generalised worrying would be like if it were intensified to the level of my specific fears/phobias. The strength of the Muse's visits is often that we have a glimpse from the outside - or above, somehow, a vision of what could be.

may she be with you today.


Re: a bit exhausting...?

YES! Was just thinking the same thing ...

I finally got myself to start a job search, uploading resume to job site profile, and started searching ... finding myself a little frantic and unable to breathe, like I can't stop! Is there nothing we can't do in an addictive manner? LOL! But it does feel good to take some action for a change ... 


Exhausted too ... from moving out of unconscious incompetence?

Not procrastinating makes me feel exhausted too! After a few hours of doing & microbursts, I felt like I had been hit by truck in the late afternoon today, lying flat out and unable to even move with this most horrible feeling in my gut and stomach. Last week after periods of not procrastinating and finally starting to expedite, I found myself physically starting to shiver and shake. It's just bewildering.

I wonder if these are withdrawal symptoms from a procrastination addiction? Others seem to have noticed this too 
Withdrawal symptoms? The First 90 Daze.

An alternative thought also popped up in my head, around the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”,  As we move from unconscious incompetence to eventually hopefully unconscious competence in our productivity all this learning and change can be quite tiring on the poor old brain.

Gosh, I think I need to go for a lie down now!

With best wishes.


4 stages

Thanks, Jack, I just had a look at those 'four stages'. It makes a lot of sense that if you're in the Conscious Competence stage you're concentrating all the time  and really hard - and that's going to be exhausting.

Am now having a cup of tea between tasks. Although I'm also online of course...Right, will stare into space between sips of tea for a bit...

Conscious Competence

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I was completely compulsively prcrastinating and fell off the 'sobriety'\ productivity wagon this morning. So my competance at being able to persevere with tasks is still lacking! Cry 

But I am just back in the Chatbox to try some microburst to keep me going.

Enjoy your nice tea breaks!