I'm Only Writing This Because I'm Putting Off Doing Important Stuff

What causes procrastination?

I think it is fear.  Fear that I won't be able to complete the task - or do it well enough.  Fear that it may involve me getting my hands dirty or have repercussions. Fear that it may attract criticism.  Fear that it may turn out not to have been necessary after all and I've spent hours of misery on  it.

We all know that we should write a "to do" list.  Trouble is I put that off because I have a nasty feeling that it may turn out to have 150 items on it.  Even when I've crossed off all the non-essential items there will still be more than I can finish today and several items that I am incapable of doing - or just too scared.

I actually read a whole book about procrastination once.  It was called "Do it now".  It did help a bit - it said that you should take a big scary task and break it down into tiny steps.  E.g.  You have a long report to write: Step 1 - switch on PC, Step 2 - Type a working title for the report, Step 3 - add your name, the date and any header and footer information, Step 4 - Save the file.  This method works well when applied to something that you are good at - in my case, writing reports. 

The method doesn't work well when applied to things that you are genuinely scared of because it is almost impossible to write the list as it makes you feel uncomfortable.  E.g. filling in my tax return - I can't get past the line, 'Get tax return'. 

There is another deadly cause - indecisiveness.  If there are alternatives and you can't choose which one to take then you are effectively making a choice.  Your choice is to do nothing.  And the consequences of doing nothing are those that you will face. 

Whenever you write a list of alternative actions to take, "Do Nothing" should always be top of the list.  Firstly because that is what you are probably going to do.  Secondly, because you need to think hard about whether the consequences of doing nothing are so bad that you are really going to HAVE to take action.  E.g. if I don't fill in my tax return I will be fined £100 in January with further tax penalties to come.

Well, as you can see I know far more about this topic than is healthy.  It must be obvious to you that I don't do very much.  My question for you is, do you do very much?  If so, why are you reading this?

CrystalCat CrystalCat
41-45, F
28 Responses Nov 19, 2006

I think you've been reading my mind. But you probably did that so you wouldn't have to do something else that you didn't want to do.

I can completely identify myself with you! In fact, yesterday I wrote a post about procrastination and I actually mentioned about my fear of tax filining! Good to see other people facing similar problems and trying to deal with them..

I like this.

I procrastinate to the point where I end up not even doing it .

I procrastinate quite a bit even when I know there are penalties if the work is not done on time. I have tried making to-do lists but they dont work either. Partly that's why I am online now rather than working.<br />
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But when I do manage to accomplish 2 -3 tasks, i get a sense of satisfaction and feel that I have accomplished something . thereon spend the rest of the day feeling good about what I have done, instead of getting work done.

It's amazing how that sense of satisfaction/accomplishment doesn't propel us to keep on going. I'll get a few things done, then spend the day walking around admiring it, thereby wasting more time.

Lazy? I don't think so. Do you know how much work procrastination is; how much extra work it causes? I'm not lazy and not inspired by fear. I think indecision might be close, tho it all started (as I recall anyway) as a rebellion against washing dishes. I wanted to do it WHEN I wanted to, not right now when you want it done. It just grew from there. Are all you procrastinators a rebel at heart?

i also too would like to add to the count of procrastinators on EP. cheers! (raise glasses, naw too lazy) so ill jusy say the word TOAST to weakness, fear and most of all failure. Lets sip to that. How do you really feel? i feel worthless, unworthy to be apart of a team, a bum ...lifeless. I know what procrastination is but is it a disorder, something we were born with i often wonder because it seems like something i cant escape. <br />
i have fancy note pads highlighting my "to do list and i have torn paper with just enough space to jot my "to do" so i am pretty sure i know what it is that i want to do so why cant i just do it. It feels like im stuck in a deep hole with no ladder...............HELLLLLLLLLLP ME GET OUT. PLZ

Oh, and I think it is fear too. Fear that if I woman up and get this degree, my procrastination will hit when I'm in a job where people are counting on me, and I will cause harm. Among other fears...

I'm bogging down in a masters program due to my procrastination, and it is messing me over professionally, financially, with my relationship, everything.<br />
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I'm brand new to Experience Project, and have been having troubles with log in, but I hope this site will work for me. I just joined because I was looking for support groups for overcoming procrastination. <br />
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Basically I am sending a note to anyone whose post on the subject seems sincere and thoughtful. (I get really tired of those posts "I'll write a story tomorrow, ha ha ha." I want to talk with people who find procrastination painful, not funny.) I'm hoping to build up some kind of online support to help me resolve this problem. <br />
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I'm trying not to be a perfectionist about this. I am sending basically the same note to everyone who looks for real, and then I'll make a bit more effort to people who reply... If I held myself to writing everyone a different note of introduction I would never get it done, and we all know how that goes...<br />
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I posted a couple days ago to the I Battle With Chronic Procrastination group under the name IThinkICanIThinkICan, but haven't been able to log back in. I finally set up a new account though I am worried I may have the same problem all over again. Anyway, hi, and I hope things are going better for you than when you wrote that story about a year ago.<br />
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Please drop me a line if you want to try to share support about this.

How are you going with this? I'm also a chronic procrastinator and I think there's many reasons for my procrastination.

Oh don't dismiss the seemingly trivial comments about procrastination, they are often ways of dealing with the hurt or pain of the self imposed delays.

Making a list is a great idea, i do that all the time, but most of the time i dont do the list. My saying is 'Making the list is easy, actually doing it is hard'

I have a tape on the wall saying "Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?".<br />
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It does not work. What does is the new online anti-procrastination tool: http://snoopon.me

I procrastinate really, really badly with schoolwork, and I think you're all right - it's the fear of my work not being perfect. I'm clever, so mostly my work is to a high standard. But when I come across something that I can't do so easily, I put it off and put it off and put if off until the literally HAVE to do it or I'll fail. Because I'm afraid of it being a low grade level piece of work.<br />
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The really stupid thing is, while I'm watching that one episode of House, or putting my clean clothes away, or updating Facebook, I could be doing the work - and if I spent all of that time on it, it would undoubtedly be to a better standard than it is when I rush it! But sometimes I just CAN'T start it. Physically can't. What's the point, in the end, after all? What do my test scores really matter, with regards to the future of humanity? Why do I need a high grade to make my life worth living?<br />
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Then I stop philosophising and remember that no matter how ultiamtely pointless my history grade is on the grand universal scale, I still live in this material, physical world where you need money to live, and you need qualifications for money. So I have to get down and do it.<br />
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After this one biscuit.

I agree with this posting completely...<br />
But what if the initial step to your "task" is *making a decision*?<br />
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Like... what to do with my life. What career path to take. What jobs to *try*...<br />
is it a game of Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe?<br />
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I'm out of college a year now. I've been waitressing to "Save up money until I decide what I want to do with my life." Well, I still don't know what to do with my life...<br />
And it's that FEAR. --of not wanting to make the wrong decision... that makes me procrastinate. <br />
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I'm not *trying* to chose to do nothing.. I wish I could just jump into something different, really. If there were a path or a schedule or a to-do list that didn't involve making this choice... I'd be golden.<br />
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So, I agree.. I'm with ya... 100%

I am pretty sure everyone procrastinates. It's a part of human life to be lazy. The most worst part about it is when you know you'll regret it later.

I am reading this because I am putting off doing important stuff. <br />
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I have a bunch of stuff I need to go through and get rid of and I know I procrastinate for fear of what I will find. I've gone through a rough couple of years and at times I have just shoved paperwork in bags and crammed them in the closet. I've tried to organize myself and clean out several times before but all I end up doing is making a huge mess and then something always comes up where I need the house to be clean so I wait until the last possible moment and then cram all THAT stuff into my office. At this point I can barely walk through the room. <br />
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So I started to write this with the idea of asking why you would think I procrastinate about doing the kitchen dishes? I KNOW it would be easy to do if I do it nightly. I mean...I live alone now so no big thing. But I don't do that...I let them go until the kitchen is a huge, embarassing mess. I am just taking a break from cleaning right now....I have some health issues that make it hard to work until it is done when it is this big a mess...and every time I take a break I have to start over with the talking myself into going back to work. It is as excuciating as it is stupid. Anyway, as I wrote I realized something....if I get the daily stuff handled then I have to move on to the mayhem in my office. Hmm.<br />
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Sometimes I will work really hard at a chore that doesn't need done just to avoid doing something else. One time when I was in college I was busily painting the foyer when my son got home. He asked me why I was doing that to which I replied, "I have homework". Sadly, he completely understood.<br />
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Ok...now I am off to wash another batch of pans. Really. Here I go...

i'm a perfectionist as well but i procrastinate. For example, when i'm doing an essay I have the hardest time accepting my first paragraph and thesis LOL. The revisions are sometimes so frustrating that I just put it off and say hey maybe i will have a better train of thought later >_>. Heck i'm still unsatisfied with my papers when i turn it in. But i still procrastinate. Oh dear T_T<br />
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I kinda have ADD but more like i have ADD because i'm on the computer all the time ranting >_>.

i'm a procrastinator but i don't see it as something bad... at least not all the time. i procrastinate because i too am worried if i'll be able to complete the task or if i'll make a mistake because i'm not fully prepared. and the biggest is the fear of critisism. <br />
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that's because i'm also a perfectionist. not the crazy anal type, but someone who doesn't waste their time doing something unless they're going to give it their all. plus, i find that i end up doing my best work on the job or in school when i wait until the last minute. it gives me purose or a sense of real urgency. it makes the task more important in a way.<br />
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but i think i've just developed an ability to work well under stress because i've procrastinated my whole life. and working well in stressful situations is very beneficial. so embrace your procrastinistic tendencies and relish in the fact that we procrastinators get just as much done as everyone else but we do it in a fraction of the time, leaving us plenty of time to do nothing.<br />
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someone once said "it is better to do nothing than to do something just for the sake of doing something".... or something like that. not sure who said it and i'm too lazy to look it up.

man, you have not seen a procrastinator until you've met me. i hate how so many people act as if they're so bad at it, but really aren't at all and aren't any worse than the regular person. i have ADD though, and since there are different extents of ADD other people have it worse than others or whatever. i have really, "really" bad ADD, so it really is insane how bad i am with this kinda stuff. i procrastinate with literally almost everything at a constant rate. depression doesn't help either, lol.

lol i was just thinking about being a perfectionist /procrastinator when i got to your comment, and i totally agree. <br />
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i have house mates and i can't stand them because they don't know how to clean and they cant stand me because i don't :s<br />
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i've been doing things not to the best of my ability recently because things need to get done and i have so much to do. but not doing things proparly is making me uneasy and im not enjoying the tasks at alllll. any one feel me on that?<br />
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lol its getting to the point where im sick of procrastinating (but i still do)<br />
in highschool i had to learn 2 levels of algebra in 2 weeks, advanced chemistry in a month and now in uni - almost a semester of economics i have to learn in a week... do to many different circumstances that were all caused by procrastination<br />
soo<br />
how do we fix this?? <br />
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lol the first step is done - admitting ;)

How many of you feel as though you are a "perfectionist" even though you procrastinate? <br />
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I think that's my main problem: I won't do it for fear it won't be good enough (for me). Like something as simple as cleaning the kitchen--it would take me FOREVER because, there's no use in washing the dishes because I can't put them away until I clean the cabinets and straighten them out, and that would require moving things around (as I think I would rather have my pots & pans here and my grocery items there), I'm sure everything in the cabinets could use a good cleaning, so I'll have to take care of that, first........on, and on.......<br />
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It's like that for everything I think of doing. So, it's just easier NOT to do any of it in the first place!<br />
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And, how many of you keep yourself up worrying about the things that *NEED* to be done? Every night, I beat myself up about what's not getting done and sit and plan the way I will do it the VERY NEXT day, but, there's always a reason I never get started and those things never get done. <br />
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I agree--we need a support group. But how many of us would attend??? Maybe tomorrow.......

fear of not doing it well enough like perfection. and when things just seem to overwhelming like cleaning the house. but then i have high standards of how this should be done so it takes for ever and even then im not happy so there ya go.<br />
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I'm the same, too. With all of you. I know I'm smart, very smart. When I think of things to do, I think of how I know how to do them, and that's where it's stopped. It's like I don't need proof that my thoughts are valid. <br />
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And working on the tip of deadline is debilitating. Worst, no one gives up to help me get out of my habit.

I'm the same.<br />
It's not that I don't do anything,I just don't have the will power to get down to doing many things.When I actually do it,it's fine,it doesn't take long and is usually easy,but I just usually am (like you said) scared to fail so I just don't try.I admire so many people around me who are so determined in life.At the age of 15 they already know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives and are prepared to work hard for it.I've always wanted to be someone like that,although I'm still quite young I just feel so lost,although I have hobbies....I have no real passion or talent.<br />
And in school (yes,I am still in school),when I get bad grades,I don't care ,cause I know that I didn't work for it and that if I had,I would have done better.But that's no way of living,and I agree it does feel very much like a disease.

I do nothing way too much. I don't 'have to' do anything so I don't. I guess it's fear. I fear I will start something I can't finish. I've got projects all over the house that aren't finished. <br />
I have health issues that I let get in the way. I fear I will feel sicker if I do too much. Ugh.<br />
I know I will feel better if I just get started but I don't. I wish there was an anonymous type help for ppl like us.

find myself always saying am going to do something that night but it never gets done been telling myself id clean the house but when day comes around to when i said was going to do it never seem to get it done no matter how many times write it out only way that seems to work for me is if my girl is here n she pushes me to do it then will get it done right away i don't know maybe its just cause have someone to work towards instead of just doing it cause should

i think there should be a procrastinators anonymous in every community. it feels like a disease, sometimes, and i think it has *everything* to do with fear.<br />
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ironic, isn't it, how we procrastinate out of fear and yet the act only actualized what we fear, in the end?

I don't do very much. I haven't made any lists. Thought about it. Was afraid I'd lose it if I did make one. There you go. I was afraid. Fear, just like you said.<br />
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And I'm a big fan of doing nothing. The trouble with doing nothing is that the pressure builds and builds. Yesterday the task was just a "should do it" type of thing and today the task is a "have to do it" type of thing and tomorrow I'll be pulling my hair out because it'll be an "Oh-no, this absolutely has *got* to be done today!!!" type of thing.