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.

Does anyone else feel like this? Is there an explanation for it?

I tend to procrastinate on schoolwork more than anything else. Rationally, it doesn't make sense. I like school. I like doing well in school. Yet when I come home and I have a large number of pages to read, I feel this overwhelming sense of dread at the very idea of sitting down and doing the work. I put it off and put it off, often diverting my attention to other tasks. As a result I often have a clean apartment, a well-stocked refrigerator, and no homework done by as late as 11 p.m. on a weeknight. 

 So I'll sit there, dreading getting started. And I'll get on Facebook. Or I'll do something else. Finally, I'll start my work.'s interesting. I like it. I'm good at what I do. When I'm working I feel great. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I know it, and I feel good about myself. So why don't I come in every day, sit down, and do my work in a timely manner? What's the roadblock? I don't understand why my brain thinks that surfing on the internet with a cloud of dread hanging over me is so awesome, like I'm cheating my fate, like I have a get-out-of-jail free card. When I'm procrastinating, the very thought of work is sickening. I feel like life's not fair, like it would be a tragedy for me to sit down and actually have to be productive, of all things. I feel like I'll "miss out" on living if I read for class like I'm supposed to instead of "living". (It would almost make sense if I were procrastinating in order to, say, run through a field or jump off a waterfall, but usually it's just to surf the internet or make sushi.) And yet when I'm working, I'm content. 

I guess for me it's like a wall. Like a barrier whose secret is that the grass actually is greener on the other side, but the wall is ridiculously high and ridiculously hard to climb. I don't know if that makes sense to anybody. I don't know if I just described procrastination in general or something totally weird. I just know that this is typically what I feel like when I know I'm procrastinating.  

Re: Odette

If only our brains accepted that things can be enjoyable and useful, and that we ARE missing out on life by procrastinating. It's as if they don't incorporate the positive information about getting into the flow or feeling productive and refuse to tear down that wall that stands in the way of so many decisions. I still procrastinate in brushing my teeth at night and thus never get to bed before 0100.  

It's taking the negative in aggregate but viewing positive gains as few and far between, perhaps. Since procrastination is not a disorder in itself - actually symptomatic of a general psychological disorder - it needs to be viewed in context (just as failing eyesight is sometimes due to diabetes. The symptoms don't tell the whole story).  The task we 'have' to do has little reward attached to it while the frivolity of escapism is deemed immediate and valuable.  

- "It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.' - da Vinci"

I do it too

Yes, this happens to me as well. Completely illogically, I can't make myself get started even on fulfilling things that I love doing. I haven't got an explanation, but it's definitely not just you. 

I know just how you feel.

I know just how you feel. Just switch "study" with "practice".

I don't know if I have an answer to your last question though, but I have learnt some things along the way, and maybe you can relate to some of it.

I found out that I was subconsiously holding on to a belief that said "intelligence is a fixed measure and only a few lucky ones are born with real talent". You said that you're good at what you do. Maybe back in the schooldays things seemed to come easy to you and you're teachers and parents praised you for being such a clever kid. In that reality hard work seemed to be for for those who lacked intelligence- I didn't think the exact words back then, but I sort of picked up that mindset along the way. And when I got older I even took some weird pride in not really trying and still doing ok. But then at some point your studies get so difficult that you HAVE to try and really concentrate and work hard. And then it feels so frustrating beacuse you're not used to  trying and working hard. Challenges feel wrong.

And then I was suddenly scared of getting started on anything hard because it shattered the image I had of myself as a clever girl. Cause if I was clever, why was it hard then?

I'm simply not used to making an effort on a regular basis. Concentration, organizing and self discipline is all stuff that I'm slowly learning now, that I have realized where all that resistance came from.

Maybe your resistance is due to something completely else. I think it's very interesting how we all have a different background and still ended up with the same bad habit.

Oh, and one tool that I have found very useful: The Pomodoro technique where you concentrate on your task for 25 minutes, then take a break, then another 25 minutes and so on. This website has the time slots prepared so you just have to press a button: For bigger, more difficult tasks, it works really well as 25 minutes is a realistic amount of time to fully concentrate on something before you need a break.


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


"intelligence is a fixed measure and only a few lucky ones are born with real talent" 

 Ah, the fixed mindset. I suffer from it too and haven't been able to surmount it. And no, people can't just will themselves out of it; they have to be convinced it's not true. I feel a deep sense of embarrassment and shame in having to work hard, and my brain normally shuts down if things are more than five seconds of challenging. That's where procrastination steps in.  

- "'It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.' - da Vinci"

Steppin re 'clever girl'

Thanks for your post - this is something which really resonates for me. In fact I kind of worked it out for myself many years ago before I realised I was a procrastinator, so thanks for linking the two for me.

I thought about it a lot when my sons were growing up, as they are both 'gifted', or certainly very intelligent especially in maths and science. I realised that as a 'clever girl' I had rarely been challenged or had to really strive over any academic work until the last stages of school and then at university. I really agree with you that not needing to make effort at a younger age makes it so much harder later on. When my sons were younger I was always trying to get the schools to provide more challenging work for them, with some limited success. So in some ways I had the pain of seeing them repeat my experiences. The good news is that now in university, they both seem to have found new ways forward, and are handing work in on time and completing their units!

So back to dealing with my own issues! Very grateful for the PA community here.

Odette I know EXACTLY how you feel

I hope this first bit won't depress you - because I know exactly how you feel...but I'm not /in/ school, I'm teaching school - I'm a professor. So it doesn't just stop I'm afraid!

I have always felt exactly the same as the way you describe - not only about studying, about a range of things but particularly about my studies when I was at unviversity, and recently about my research. When I wasn't doing the work I felt sick with worry and dread about it, when I was doing it I felt absorbed and happy. Or even if the task wasn't interesting I at least felt absorbed and pleased to be getting on with things. The emotional energy and time I put into dreading things I wasn't doing could so obviously be put into doing them - and I knew that but couldn't stop putting them off. 

I bet you'll get lots of replies like mine. I don't think it's a weird thing separate from procrastinating. I think that feeling that you just have to do something more pleasureable than get started /is/ procrastination for a lot of people. I think the explanation must just be that 'in the moment' we turn to the instant pleasure rather than the harder thing. 

For me, the problem was always thinking that the task I was facing was just so huge that I needed hours or days to complete it. Whereas here I've been recommended to work in short bursts. So if I'm dreading something I've said to myself that I'll just do, say, 15 minutes or half and hour. The chat box is full of people doing those bursts, which I've found encouraging.

Then I find it hardest and most dread-ful to get started if I don't have really have clear in my mind where everything is that I need or what exactly the first task is that I need to do. So as recommended here I now break stuff to do down into small tasks like 'find article; read pages 1-5, 5-10' - so I mean /really/ small tasks. And somehow I can manage to do the first one and that good feeling of productiveness you describe kicks in. 

Then there's the check-in lists. I've been doing a list of everything I have to do, at least for work, on the check-ins here for about a month now and I have to day that I feel completely cured of the awful dread of work that really did plague my life. I still find myself autotmatically wanting to put things off but i think of everyone here seeing that I didn't get far down my list and that gets me started. Which I know is really silly because I don't actually know anyone here! Why would I mind what they think when I clearly don't mind keeping a publisher waiting weeks for late work, someone I'm actually going to have to face!? I don't know why it works but it does seem to. 

I don't know if you got to the end of this! But I recognized your description so exactly that I had to write. 

Very best of luck with beating this. I think it's really, really possble. I know this site isn't realy about giving advice. But I can't help saying - don't wait til you're 47 like I did! Well, I guess you could be a mature that case, my case shows it's never too late!


Resonates with me too

I found this thread really interesting; I can certainly identify this behaviour in myself. What causes it is a good question. In my case anyway, it is related to anxiety, worry about not doing things well, being overwhelmed, then it seems logical to limit the time window possible for work, the way Odette does with school work. If one only has an hour before bed, then one just has to do what one can.

I also found the reply of Eleanor BE very hopeful, because obviously you have got far despite this problem. Thanks for posting here.

All the best,


" If one only has an hour

" If one only has an hour before bed, then one just has to do what one can."


Alas, what one is more likely to do, in my case at least, is to put off going to bed ... Frown