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.

Characteristics of Procrastinators

This list of characteristics is from a "laundry list" contributed to Latecomers & Procrastinators Anonymous of New York City by "Joe L. et al." (This fellowship is different from Procrastinators Anonymous, and seems to have disappeared.)

We have found through our group experience that many of us have or identify with the following characteristics. You need not identify with all of them or order to be a chronic procrastinator.

  1. Disappointment is a way of life with us. We constantly disappoint other people and ourselves by not keeping promises that we make.
  2. We constantly seek excitement and attention through the negative attention generated by passive aggressive behavior. The excitement comes from not knowing how the person we have "wronged" will react when we see him/her again.
  3. We constantly place people in a position of power over us by default.
  4. We have taken on the role of nice but ineffectual people.
  5. We do not like to be depended upon.
  6. We are regularly late for appointments.
  7. We regularly procrastinate greatly over the things we have to do. In school this results in incomplete grades, at work in projects that get delayed or dropped, at home in a disheveled place that we are embarrassed to bring people to.
  8. We tend to put off making decisions. Many of our decisions are made for us by the process of indecision, life's inevitable way of making the decisions for us whether we like it or not.
  9. We tend to stay single to a late age or not to get married at all, tend to greatly delay breaking off inappropriate relationships, and/or tend to avoid committed relationships.
  10. We tend to avoid concentrating on projects at hand, engaging in daydreaming or switching to other less important tasks.


Shawna's picture

God led me here; you're my angel.

first time someone understands my condition. I feel like crying.  God bless you!

These so called

These so called characteristics would match/resonate with just about anyone in our urban/western society. More a sign of the times than a useful diagnosis. The lack (here) of "solutions" or of emphasis on fixing such problems is maybe an indication that these characteristics are the normal state, and then, well, isn't this nagging just trying to put us down? Self-flagellation?

OK, I'm just saying this list feels very un-scientific (ie, unqualified, quantitatively ;-)). Which worries me. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." ;-)

On the other hand... just discovered this site, still digging around. Yes, I recognize a major influence for change is to be found in externalizing such problems and in finding community. So there's quite an impact there already.

Hmm, curiouser and...

"So little time, so much to do!" -- Nowhereman

just saw this

Delayed response because I didn't see the message until now... If the characteristics of procrastinators are "normal", then there are a lot of happily "abnormal" non-procrastinating people in this world, and I want to be abnormal like them. Not everyone lives their life like this, Jai.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Signs of Compulsive Time Debting

Hi, I'm new to this forum and thrilled to have found it. I am probably procrastinating right now, after a useless night, staying up and not working on an important job, fighting with my significant other, probably as a way of avoidance. It's bad.

I attended Debtors Anonymous meetings regularly from Aug to Nov, but then holidays and illness made me get off track. It wasn't quite right, but it was the closest thing I'd felt to a place of fellowship for this disorder. DA was described to me as the "graduate school" of the 12-step programs, and I think it's because this is where the addictive personality begins to take steps to do prosaic normal things like pay bills on time. The way I put it, "I always knew something was wrong with me, but I never had the glamour of substances."

Anyway, I just drafted this little thing based on the Debtor's Anonymous literature. Maybe someone else can relate.

Signs of Compulsive Time Debting

1. Being unclear about your time situation. Not knowing number of days till deadline, materials needed, what kind of problems need to be solved, whether it can be done without help from others. Not having a schedule, or maybe making a schedule but abandoning it and not looking at it. Not listening to yourself when you feel the need to work or pay attention. Actively turning your attention off.

2. Frequently "borrowing" time from friends (asking them to help you through a crisis, asking them to cover for you, demanding they endure a crisis with you when you need one to take the space of doing the work), from coworkers (asking them to understand or forgive you for having loaded them with extra work), and clients (asking them to hire you again, expecting it, and being personally offended when it doesn't happen, but often sliding by again on good graces).

3. Poor behavior around time. Not planning for mistakes or technical difficulty or other not-recurring but predictable conditions, and then feeling surprised when the problems play out and foil the carefully subconsciously mapped out schedule of "remaining minutes"; simply not thinking about the job at hand, a "live for today, don't worry about tomorrow" attitude."

4. Compulsive procrastinating: Being unable to pass up a "good movie" or a social opportunity; making impulsive projects for yourself that aren't related to the task at hand, like Google searches or cleaning your house; things that seem good uses of time, but are not; leaving signs and signals of the job you need to do around the house, visible, as a way of proving that it's still on your plate, yet not starting it. Doing other work, less important work, when the pressure of the task at hand is too much, to relieve the feeling of unaccomplishment. Only finishing things when they are second to last on the list.

5. Difficulty in meeting basic work or personal obligations, and/or an inordinate sense of accomplishment when such obligations are met. Discomfort when people comment on your difficulty.

6. A different feeling when accomplishing something under pressure, or meeting deadlines satisfactorily after working in a frenzy of deprivation, a feeling of being in the club, of being accepted, of being grown up. A feeling of anxiety when meeting deadlines easily after working efficiently, of your work not being real or worthy.

7. Living in chaos and drama around time: Making amends for missed appointments or obligations; making do with your lack of practice; using the time needed for one job to complete another; lying to coworkers to make excuses for having messed up a job because of bad time management; always having a time crisis to contend with. Frequently turning an activity that was leisure or fun into work or crisis, once it needs to be scheduled or requires any time obligations, like practicing music.

8. A tendency to live on the edge: Always meeting deadlines at the last minute, or with an accompanying drama of some sort. Living in a constant state of deadline and imperative; taking risks with your reputation for honesty and responsibility; working inefficiently hoping the job will suddenly reveal itself to be easy and able to be completed without effort. Not communicating with coworkers or people depending on you and thereby making other people anxious about your progress.

9. Unwarranted inhibition and confusion, maybe embarrassment, in what should be a normal discussion of how much time something should take.

10. Overworking or underearning: Working extra hours just to meet basic obligations; using time inefficiently; taking jobs below your skill and education level and drawing them out.

11. An unwillingness to care for and value yourself: Living in self-imposed deprivation of time; denying your basic needs like your sleep or meals, (or even your need for love and company), in order to do penance for having missed an obligation.

12. A feeling or hope that someone will take care of you if necessary, so that you won't really get into serious trouble from your missed obligations, that there will always be someone you can turn to. A feeling that there will always be enough time.


This is an incredibly insightful and well-thought-out description of the different aspects of time-debting in my life. I relate to every single one of these items. Thanks for posting this!


Oh my gosh!!  This list is AMAZING!!  Of course, not amazing = good, but amazing = TRUE!!

Wow.  Lots to think about.

I recognise myself in so

I recognise myself in so many of those points. Now I need to think about what I can do about them!


thanks for posting this!

I've gone to a few DA meetings because some parts of their literature and program are useful for procrastinators. The problem is, I always felt out of place because I'm not a compulsive spender, which is the primary problem the program is meant to address. But DA has migrated to include "under-earning", which often has a procrastination component.

Thanks for posting the list!