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.

Decide between work or play? HELP!

Hi guys! 

I'm agonizing over whether or not to go out tomorrow night ("tomorrow" being today at 2am...) and thought I would seek some support.

I've been "working" on this thesis that's driving me crazy and have logged a total of about 2 hours on it for the past 2 weeks. That's pretty... I want to say "pathetic", but let's just say, far from my goal.

I don't have an immediate deadline but it's holding up my entire life - I even moved home to my family's house in order to finish this without the pressure of looking for a new temp job.

So, tomorrow night I had tentative plans to go hear music in the city - this means that I have to leave the house late afternoon to take the train, and the rest of the evening is taken, so starts my weekend...

I would love to think I'll get a lot done today on my work, but that hasn't happened yet, so why would it happen now?

On one hand, I'm scared that if I don't go out, I'll rebel and not get anything done anyway;

on the other hand, I'm scared that if I plan to leave my house on the train in the afternoon, I'll lose track of my day and end up not focusing on my work.

Either way, I lose.

And the truth is that, as I type this I realize, it's really not about whether or not to go out tomorrow night - if I concentrated at ALL tomorrow and got even 2 hours of work done it would be worth the celebration. I'm just scared that I won't. I'm so stuck.

Does anyone have any feedback?

I don't want to do this alone, and most of all, I don't want to waste any more time on this decision!




When I've talked about difficult decisions with people in my program, it usually comes down to praying about it, talking it over with other people in the program ... anything to try to figure out how to put recovery first. I and some of my friends in program struggle mightily with trying to discern between self-will and the will of higher power. You are not alone.

using rewards as motivation ...

Short term I don't know how to advise on whether to go out or not.  Will this re-inforce your procrastination or help to chip this maladaptive behaviour away?

Longer term, if you haven't got this already I suggest reading The Procrastination Equation which has a good section on using rewards to help work through procrastination.

One more thing, in the future perhaps you could consider going to a face-to-face 12-Step fellowship meeting in a related problem area that you identify with, to share and talk things through out loud to help support your recovery from procrastination. A quick web search can help you find what kinds of 12-Step groups with face-to-face meetings might be in your neighbourhood e.g. U.A. etc.  

Also the power of 'prayer' to guide oneself in this process is an interesting concept and using 'prayer' can be quite different (and more effective!) in the 12-Steps process to what one might be used to before. Working the steps within a fellowship can help one access a higher power (as one understands this) that is greater than oneself to aid one's recovery.

In essence this is captured in the serenity prayer:

God (or HP), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.


All the best in your recovery.


At risk of giving advice, please forgive yourself for what you haven't done and go out and enjoy yourself! It's only one evening.

Personally I find that a change of scene and activity can actually help me restart later. I think it helps to break the cycle.

And maybe with something to look forward to you can schedule some work time in the morning.

Hope it all works out for you! :)


Hi emily,

 I have the same experience as findingaway with this. Sometimes take distance to then surprise attack it after having a renewed mood from a good night out. 

If you always "punish" yourself by staying home as a chronic procrastinator, you might as well lock yourself in isolation in the house for years. (Clearly, that is not healthy)

Perhaps you can find a balance between letting a fun activity be the "carrot" to reward yourself with, but if you know you did the best you could do at that moment in time, you've done all you can and forgiving yourself is the best thing you can do to minimise the chance of more procrastination.

Hug, good luck and enjoy life. Life doesn't stop with having a document due. :P

Thank you!

Wolke, Jack, Findingaway, and Andy: 


Thank you all SO much for your response to my post. It's true that, looking back, when I've cancelled activities b/c I hadn't gotten enough done, I didn't end up doing more work - I just ended up obsessing about how I didn't go and then giving up on my work, anyway.

That said, there does have to be a balance, and that means also using this tool here and other fellowships to support my recovery with procrastination and take NEW actions.

I think it was Jack who suggested meetings - I am an active part of multiple 12-Step fellowships and have, in fact, found UA to be extremely helpful. Unfortunately, I've moved away from the city that had many UA meetings but have been participating in phone meetings and I have to say, I feel SO much better when I do.

Thank you, all, again. It's a reminder to me that I need to be here!




*meant that I'm writing this post at 2am so "tomorrow" is actually today. Not going out at 2am!