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.

Good habits, bad habits, and life craziness

Hi, I'm Thomas C., compulsive procrastinator.

I've noticed two things since I discovered this site:

1. When I post, I procrastinate a lot less, and get a lot more done.

2. I post sporadically or at least inconsistently, not every day.

One reason I don't post is that I don't procrastinate on some things, like getting going in the morning. I notice that some people put in their check-ins such self care as brush teeth, shower, dress, etc. I don't need to post about those tasks, because I do them. We have to get our daughter to school on time, so we have the morning routine down pat. Also, right after I get to campus, I handle meditation, brushing teeth & flossing, and anything else that can be handled in a bathroom. ;-)

So I have some really good habits. Unfortunately, they do not carry me through to starting academic work.

Probably the first bad habit is to check email. As soon as I'm done in the bathroom, I log in to my email account. The problem is that I really do have to check email. I keep in touch with students who have questions, I contact family, friends, the two departments I'm involved with (one now, one starting this fall), and so on. I need to do email.

But I do it from a computer lab where I can also access the Web, and THAT is where I really start procrastinating. :-(

I love to read newspaper and magazine sites. I always have. But this definitely has become a way to procrastinate. Perhaps it always was! It takes way too long. For instance, it was around 10:30 a.m. that I started this post. But I finished email probably around 9:45. What did I do? News websites!

Also, I'm a morning person, and this term I noticed that having a 10 a.m. class really made my teaching days crazy. Having time in the morning to get going really helps, but it's also exactly where I procrastinate. So I think I will always ask for afternoon classes, even if they're back-to-back, which I've had, and which does suck, but which gave me time in the morning.

Another reason I don't post to this site is that some days I know what I have to do, and I just do it. I'm so inconsistent, sometimes I don't even procrastinate! On those days--such as when I have a lot of papers to grade, and no deadlines on anything else--I just do it.

Finally, some periods of my life--whole months or even a year at a time--are really crazy, and my good habits can go out the window. This happened when my daughter was born, but that's not really news. Babies make life crazy for most people, at least for a few months. It also happened the last year of my dissertation, which went RIGHT up to the deadline--a deadline I met, but only by submitting a dissertation that had a couple of lame chapters.

I'm also in Debtors Anonymous (I've noticed that time and money problems can go together), but I really haven't worked the program seriously in the last three or four years. In other words, I keep up on billpaying pretty inconsistently--sometimes I'm ON IT, and sometimes, like now, I wait a week after a paycheck. Also, I haven't done ANY recordkeeping, which is absolutely fundamental to the DA program, in about three years.

So all of this leads me to two questions, which I'm throwing open to a forum in hopes that (a) it helps others, and (b) I get help on my own stuff:

1. How can I reduce life-craziness? Or to put it another way, how much of it is my own creation, and if so, why do I do it? Is it just the cumulative result of daily procrastination? Or is it that I try to do too much? Or does it just happen to everyone sometimes?

2. Good habits in the morning: how can I "get to work" instead of wasting upwards of two hours each morning? Sometimes it's only a half-hour, sometimes much more.

Any thoughts, anyone?


Lark, why don't you just dive in and say something? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, flexiblefine, thanks for mentioning Habitual Mastery. I clicked on the link you provided, and looked over the first entry. I think I've seen this before, but now I'm going to follow it up. It looks really good, and I think I'm ready to use what he has to say.

I know what you mean.

Yes, sounds like me at times. Perhaps we can discuss this topic on this forum later. Thanks.

Work first!

I understand the lure of all that web stuff when you're at the computer -- I do web development for a living, so being on the web is part of my job!  But web surfing can turn into a terrible time-sink.

Here's what I've done to make my mornings more productive: I do some work first thing in the morning.  This has two benefits -- first, it actually gets something done; second, it helps create a more productive mindset that can last into the day.

I got this idea after reading Scott Young's Habitual Mastery series.  I kept track of which days I worked through the morning and actually managed 30 days in a row -- I fell out of the habit later, but it has been much easier to actually work through the morning ever since.

Note that I'm not suggesting that you avoid your e-mail or web surfing.  I'm just suggesting that you put it off until later in the day.  Feel free to allow yourself an hour or two of relaxed e-mail and web time if your schedule will allow it, but don't make it the first thing you do in the day.

Change one thing at a time, but be persistent about the change.  If you slip up, just start again, and keep starting until you see real progress.


Thanks, flexiblefine

Yeah, I want to change everything at once. Better to change one thing, and really change it.

I actually did some work this morning before web stuff, but not enough. It's VERY difficult for me not to do email first thing, but I'll try it tomorrow. Maybe I can hold off on email and web until 11 a.m. every day. I'll try.