Struggling To Overcome Chronic Procrastination

I'm about to enter my 10th year of undergrad. Yeah...
I always feel a pang of shame whenever I hear someone joke about "being on the 5 year plan," or "being on the 6 year plan," as if they're making light of being some kind of slacker. I (almost) never tell people how long I've been in school. I've transferred a couple of times, so I can get away with hiding it. And it's all due to my terrible procrastination. Well, that's how it always starts, anyway, before it turns into anxiety and then depression. Then I get so anxious and depressed that I can't do my work, and then fail.

I used to beat myself up over it. I would scream at myself (in my head) that I'm just lazy, or that I'm a loser because I can't get anything done. And that would just make things worse, of course. Now I don't do that anymore, because I know that I'm not lazy, at least I'm not lazy deep inside; I WANT to work and succeed, I really do. I just have a chronic avoidance problem. It's a deep seated psychological short-circuit, one that I can't just snap out of like I've tried to so many times before.

Well, I've had enough. I can't stand it anymore. Something's got to give, as I can only handle so much failure before I just give up. And I don't want to do that. Hopefully by finally admitting that I have a real problem (and convincing myself that I'm not just lazy) then I can start to get better. I recently bought a book on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (which is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), that I hope will help give me some tools for dealing with the chronic avoidance disorder at the root of my procrastination.

I want to share my experiences with others out there that may be struggling with the same thing. Hopefully it helps somebody out there.
cthunter01 cthunter01
26-30, M
9 Responses Aug 2, 2010

Kindred spirit right here :) At least you're still going after your degree. I've been saying that I'm between colleges for the past 5 years. Finally admitted to myself that I 'dropped out' this year. Feels like crap, and I still want to go back but I'm not so sure how I'd do given my chronic procrastination issues.

I go through cycles of productivity and vegetative inactivity. I'm not sure how to completely cure myself of procrastination, but I do know that if you could get to a place where you're productive at least some days of the week, then all will be good with the world.

I am in the same boat as well. I am in late 30's and I think chronic procrastination is more of a clinical issue, than a conscious & controllable mental behavior. After trying to get things done for about 30 years now(I knew that something is wrong with me as a 7-8 year old), I came to terms with it. Interventions in form of Medicines & Counseling are only First-Aid, they work intermittently only I think. Downgraded expectations on myself, reworked my strategy, trying to make peace with family and friends etc. Able to live a visibly sane life, severely depressed inside(trying not to), you know I think GOD gave me great mind(I can taste it) but again he took away my capability of utilizing it. Why? Only GOD knows.

I am very happy for you. Suffering is one thing, acknowledging it and not becoming a victim/complete loser is really Heroic. Those who have it all going for them, may not understand this(at least all of them). You are Swimming and not drowning. Don't ever give up, you already understand the problem, keep working on it.

I am looking for a Time management system that accounts for Procrastination! if I find one I will come back and post here. If you find one please share it with the rest of us. There are so many popular productivity systems, I am yet to find one that procrastinates! and still get things done! good luck to us.

Ironically I love Mathematics and Physical Sciences myself, a bit of Chemistry too. I am fighting to master them since childhood. After all that trying all my mind can understand is basic mathematics +, -, X & /, unable to break this barrier, trying :)

Just keep trying, friend.

I finally did graduate. Summer of 2011 with my bachelors in physics and minor in applied math (one class shy of a major, but I was ready to be done). I now stock groceries on the overnight crew at a local supermarket, but I finally did get that degree, heh. It's useful, honest work at least. I wanted to keep going and get a PhD, but the procrastination got the best of me. I started a program but had to leave since I couldn't keep on top of the work.

I still have dreams of going back and finishing what I started, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that. There's something really deep seated about this problem, it's not just simple laziness. I've come to think that deep down maybe we just don't fit into this world. It's not that we don't have something valuable to add, but we have different kinds of souls and we don't really fit in with society as a whole.

I'm still working out these issues. I wish I just didn't care what other people think and I could get on doing what I really want to do with my life, but I'm stuck wishing I could just fit in with the world but unwilling to change who I am in order to do it.

Or maybe it's all just a chemical imbalance, WTH knows.

a degree in physics is awesome-you must be a rocket scientist

Oh geez I understand...a uni assignment is what I should be doing right now! Only its already two weeks late. And there are actually two of them. And worst thing is, I had to really convince the course co-ordinators to get into this postgrad course, mainly because I kept doing what you are doing now in your undergrad! You WILL get there. But honestly, you have to be proactive ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)...about getting help, that is. Its a little 'life long' - probably something you'll always battle, so its good to have strategies. It was SO GOOD to read your post. I feel less alone!!!<br />
I too can't see myself doing anything else. But then again, I don't see myself doing anything right now either LOL *joke*. Ahh the joys of pathological procrastination and perfectionism.

Hey, I'm not doing as well as I had hoped to be doing at this point, but I'm not in a sinking ship yet. I'm going to have to drop one of my classes, but that doesn't change my graduation plans. I only need to take one class next semester, but now it will be two. That's not a big deal. So I'll be in two classes this semester and next semester. It's a bit disappointing, but not the end of the world by any stretch.<br />
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The REBT book is helping some. It has some good points; I'm not sure it's helped my procrastination so much, but I've only begun to read it. I keep putting it off, heheh.

I'm sad to say I'm in the same boat. I'm a would-be artist who graduated from an art college a little more than ten years ago. I've never tried to sell a drawing or painting, and I've never had gallery show. I'm grateful that I have a loving wife, a decent job, and a nice house. Still I torture myself with the idea that I'm not the person I am supposed to be. I went to see a pyschologist about it for the first time recently. At the very least it feel good to own up to the problem and have the sense that I'm doing something about it. I'll have to see if it helps me in the long term. Has that Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy book helped you? Good luck getting through your undergrad.

I feel the same way. It is the worst side of my personality. I want to believe that I am not lazy either. Procrastinating messes with my life and plans. i never finish what I start, always leave things for the last minute. I feel irresponsable, stupid and it makes me sad. I always promisse to myself I am going to change by it never happens and I get frustrated again.

@Scream<br />
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I think being a perfectionist plays a big part in my procrastination. You want to always do a really good job, the BEST (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but you don't know how so you put it off. And keep putting it off until a time when everything is right so you can start, but the problem is that time never comes. Then you're just cramming at the end, or giving up.<br />
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Definitely it does have a psychological origin for me, but not necessarily everyone. I so habitually put things off that it has become like a compulsion, almost like OCD or something. I can't seem to help myself even when I want to. At least not in a big way. I need to come out of it, but it's not going to be me just "snapping out of it" so to speak. It's just going to be me trying to "unlearn" all those bad habits, which is going to take a while. Lots of small steps.

Thank you for posting this story. I thought I was the only one who felt like this. I'm a perfectionist too and I wonder if other perfectionists have the same problem. Is this actually a real illness do u think? Coz I know it's not just a matter of being lazy, but I don't think I have any psychological reasons for my procrastination, just can't seem to get motivated sometimes.

Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate the feedback. That's why I joined this community. :)<br />
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Problem is I really do enjoy what I'm studying, which is all the more puzzling. I feel like I was born to do this (physics/math), and can't see myself doing anything else.<br />
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But I think you're right about taking things one step at a time. That's what I'm starting to try and do. It's ever so hard to even get started doing anything I'm supposed to be doing, but as long as I set micro-goals, then I think I can do it. Like you said, just opening up the program I need to be working in and then taking a short walk is a step in the right direction.<br />
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I do spend quite a bit of time THINKING about what I'm going to do/need to do, which in physics is a necessary step, but I just have a hard time making that leap to actually DOING it, or committing to a specific course of action. I'm a terrible perfectionist, and I'm sure that's a big part of my procrastination issue.