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.

Scheduling just doesn't seem to work for me

I've been a procrastinator all my life. I do know why I do it (mostly perfectionism and not having a scheduled time that I have to work), but it's not helping much. I'm good about the little things, it's the big ones that I keep putting off.

I have 3 big projects this weekend: grade papers, huge, incredibly important work project, and clean. I thought I'd try spending a 1/2 hour on each, then take a break for the 4th half hour. But the problem came when I realized that if I did this, I would *only* get 2 hours of work done on the project if I followed the schedule for 8 hours. If I just worked on the project, I could put in a whole 8 hours.

Now, I logically know that 2 hours are better than nothing and that I would also be doing work on other things at the same time, and not get burned out, but I just can't get past it.

Today, I did a 1/2 hour on the papers, 1/2 hour on exercise, then I started thinking about the big project and fell apart.

Any suggestions? Anyone been through this?


biting off too much

Take it from someone who knows... If you try to pile too much on your back, you will rebel and do nothing. Take it a little at a time - try to do what's doable. If you try tell yourself that you have to do an overwhelming amount of work, you won't be able to get started.

All-at-once vs. one-at-a-time

I also have the other problem you describe -- if I have 12 things to work on, I feel like I should be making progress on all 12 of them at the same time.

Sometimes it's better to line projects up and do them one at a time -- switching from one project to another ruins the momentum you developed on the first project, and establishing context for the new project just takes more time.

Take a look at your projects and see how things can be simpler if you line them up this way. Do one, then the next, then the next. If you hit a wall on one project, then you might switch, but don't force yourself to switch just because you've worked for a certain amount of time. (Feel free to set a minimum amount of time, but not a maximum.)

If you only have to concentrate on one project at a time, you may find yourself more relaxed and able to do better work.


The open-schedule problem

Not having a fixed time to do work can be a real problem, can't it? There's always a few minutes to do "just one more thing" before working, and soon you're on a time binge.

The best thing I have come up with is to start the day with work. Yes, this means putting off e-mail and the web for hours, but they will still be there after you've spent some time working.

And remember that the goal is to "spend some time" working, not necessarily to get a project finished. Looking at big projects as single things can make it very hard to make any progress at all -- in your mind, you're looking for a single block of time to do the whole thing, when that's probably not going to happen.

Start small, but keep starting. Progress is progress, and you should acknowledge and give yourself some appropriate reward after a work session.


I've been through it too

I've definitely been through, and go through, this. I tell myself that if I do things the way you suggest at least I'll be making progress on all fronts, but then I'll tell myself something like 'yeah, but I have to work for 12 hours solid just to get 2 hours forward in one project', and I can't bear it. Sometimes, I don't seem to be able to see into the future, when two hours a day has accumulated into a finished project. This tends to happen at the 'too little too late' stage.

Just recently I've been doing nibbling away at homework, and have been surprised at the progress made. I mananged to get one paper finished just doing an hour in the morning - just one hour a day. Each question can take several hours, and there are several questions on a paper, so it just felt like it would go on forever. But the thing is, once I get going, sometimes I ~can~ do more, and once I've started I ~do~. Getting started is probably the hardest part for me. I have also got too many commitments for the time I have (and I need more money than I'm currently earning - if I can earn more in the same or less hours - great! But I may end up working more hours).

Maybe you could try it as an experiment? Instead of committing to 8 hours (no wonder you gave up!) just commit to two. You may end up doing more, you may not.

Also think about priorities - the grading and work project are probably higher priority than cleaning, but you ~do~ need an organised space to work, or you waste more time than you save. Can you focus the cleaning on just the area you're working in for now - maybe just do 1/2 hour twice a day - you'll still get a lot done in that time - and that'll give you more time for cycling round your other projects. And don't be tempted to leave the breaks out - you know you'll rebel! In the longer term you can develop routines to help you keep on top of cleaning (my house looks pretty much OK nearly all the time now, with very minimal daily maintenance, and 'cleaning' only needs to happen every few weeks to keep it spiffy, so I can let that go on when I get ultra-busy). (I do work better with less clutter around me, so it was a longer term project of mine to get to this point).

Hope some of this helps.



I was gonna post here.. but.. i guess i'll do it later..