T Nation

Procrastination, I've Got it Bad


I’ve procrastinated my whole life. When I was 14 I had a paper route and monthly I was supposed to go around and collect the subscription money and I always waited until the last day to do it. Throughout HS and college, I would wait until the last minute to do projects and study for tests which led to less than stellar grades.

I’m sitting at my desk right now trying to get myself motivated to get the materials together I need for my business so I can give them to my accountant. My business partners are visibly upset with me because they can’t file their personal returns until they have the partnership return. Last year, I paid $4,000 out of my own pocket because the LLC turned in it’s return late. Over the last 4 years, I’ve paid the IRS over $80,000 in penalties because I haven’t turned in returns on time. I can’t even get myself to send in the form asking for an automatic extension on time.

I still haven’t prepared my 2011 and 2012 returns (or, more accurately gotten the material together to give to my accountant), nor have I mailed in a return for 2010 sitting on my desk for which I will receive a refund of around $20,000.

I’ve read books, I’ve talked to a LCSW, my procrastination has negatively affected others (my partners) and damaged my reputation in their eyes, and has cost me tens of thousands of dollars. Yet I still persist.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Edit: Changed “shrink” to LCSW

I was going to respond to this, but I’ll do it later.

I knew a great man once, his name was Nike and you know what he said to me?

He said ‘‘Just do it’’

Wow…

Considering you’ve spoken with a professional about this, I doubt members can add anything to motivate you.

Though I’m interested in seeing what they will write, so I’ll check back.

Seems to me that when you get tired enough of dealing with it, you’ll make a plan and stick to it. Pick any difficult life challenge and you finally come to the same thing; either you will do it or you won’t.

Weight loss? You can either get fatter and fatter and suffer increasing difficulties associated with it, such as lack of mobility and social penalties…or you can decide on a diet and wake up tomorrow morning and actually DO it.

Working out; same thing. My boyfriend (my BOYFRIEND!) was just talking about my “great genetics” and “luck” in getting the metabolism I have. Like, seriously? Dude. You’re THERE when I set the motherfucking alarm to get up and work out before work! You SEE me eat shit tons of vegetables, lean protein, and steamed rice! You WATCH me prepare my breakfast and lunch every day to carry to work. Luck?! WTF, man, WTF?

Anyway, I digress. The point is, you have to make a decision, and then actually follow through. Tomorrow, it will be different and I will finally feel good about myself. As Yoda said, “Do or do not.” As hard as it is, it’s really just that easy.

Once you get started, I think you’ll find that it reinforces itself. Much nicer to go to bed without having self-recrimination to keep you awake.

You probably gain a sense of control when you procrastinate.

Do you even lift?

Maybe just work your ass of to get shit done THE INSTANT it becomes
Your duty

Have you been assessed for Adult ADHD? I realize you already have professional help, but running through a battery of tests with a neuropsychologist might give you some insight and set you in the right direction. It’s possible your current “shrink/therapist/psychologist/counselor” is too close (or too biased) to consider other options.

Appearing to be “lazy” to others, including about things which actually matter to you, is actually a pretty standard symptom.

FWIW, I still need to file my 2011 return too. I was tallying up moving expenses and couldn’t find a few receipts… and pretty much haven’t touched it since then. So I have some idea where you’re coming from.

Procrastination is like masturbation… in the end your only fucking yourself.

You know the problem.

Stop fucking around and grow up

I get severe anxiety when I have to fill out forms, official documents and take tests.

It doesn’t address the deeper problem which is an ocd, but having my wife do what she is able to then I sign it gets it done.

I did all of my tests in college and for work like I’m in a trance. Put the pen to paper and it fills itself out.

Maybe get a secretary or something.

Something that helped me was taking baby steps.

For me, I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that really big challenges can be broken down into manageable bits. This applies to working out, really big math equations, getting across the country, social encounters, you name it.

Let’s take the tax thing for example. If I were you, I would spend literally 10 minutes out of the day getting the forms together. 10 minutes, that’s it. After those 10 minutes you can do whatever it is you do. But for those 10 minutes, work on your taxes.

Every day for 10 minutes, work on your taxes. Every single day.

If I had to guess, I would think that you, and now everyone around you, has labelled you a procrastinator, so when things get tough you fall back into that label because it’s what you know.

So when shit gets overwhelming, just break it down into manageable chunks, and work at it little by little, until it becomes a habit.

You believe your time could be better spent elsewhere

A few of my best guesses

  1. That stuff’s boring. There has got to be funner stuff you could be doing

  2. There’s more important / urgent stuff in this exact moment

  3. Pretty much just repeating. You either care more about other stuff that’s funner. Or you are very stressed and constantly worry about other stuff that needs more immediate attention

  4. This is the hard part. You don’t really believe in whatever it is that you are procrastinating. Maybe it’s a job//business you hate, and can’t really generate the enthusiasm to do something until it comes to the last minute and becomes very urgent. Until the last minute 1 and 2 from above apply. At least the excitement/stress helps make the task less boring, and therefore more do-able. MAYBE deep down you’re hoping you eventually fail - to free you of this crap - but I think that is rare. More likely the extra speed that comes with the limited time and mounting stress just helps you maximize your cost/benefit in regards to how you spend your time

Procrastination itself may or may not be the real problem. I tend to think not. You believe your time could be better spent elsewhere, that is why you do regularly spend it elsewhere. If this happens just with paperwork then Skyz advice of a secretary makes a lot of sense. Or if it’s number 2 from above, hiring people in general might be a good idea. If its a larger problem in life and it speaks towards number 1 above then you might be heading in the wrong direction, and the subconscious knows this while the conscious hates and avoids thinking about it. True procrastination is an internal battle - means different subsets of your mind is at war with each other. Perhaps try and find something all of your minds can agree on, but that’s usually scary. Plus all parts of your mind will never agree on monotonous tasks anyways

Alright, time for me to quit this procrastinating…

[quote]IFlashBack wrote:
Something that helped me was taking baby steps.

For me, I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that really big challenges can be broken down into manageable bits. This applies to working out, really big math equations, getting across the country, social encounters, you name it.

Let’s take the tax thing for example. If I were you, I would spend literally 10 minutes out of the day getting the forms together. 10 minutes, that’s it. After those 10 minutes you can do whatever it is you do. But for those 10 minutes, work on your taxes.

Every day for 10 minutes, work on your taxes. Every single day.

If I had to guess, I would think that you, and now everyone around you, has labelled you a procrastinator, so when things get tough you fall back into that label because it’s what you know.

So when shit gets overwhelming, just break it down into manageable chunks, and work at it little by little, until it becomes a habit. [/quote]

I was thinking about exactly this as I ran this morning. It’s a good, practical tip.

OP, get a timer (kitchen timer or phone timer or whatever) and start setting it for whatever you think you can handle. I made a lot of progress this way several years ago. I’d do 15 minutes for household tasks (who knew it only takes about 10 minutes to wipe down the inside of a refrigerator, 15 to do a credible job on the bathroom?) and 30 for school work. The timer got me through graduate school, seriously.

What I noticed was that I very often kept going after the time went off. It wasn’t the task I minded, I just had trouble getting started and engaged. Part of that is my ADHD, which is undiagnosed (and doesn’t need to be, I have made accommodations for it and get by just fine).

Another thing I read and started doing is to keep telling myself “it’ll only take two seconds.” It’s really become a part of my make-up. This morning I was headed out for the gym, realized it’s trash day, thought “no, I’m already at the car, I’ll do it later,” then stopped myself by thinking “it’ll take two seconds and I won’t have to mess with it when I’m dressed and carrying stuff to the car for the beach.” I went back and got it. It took two seconds. And I felt ridiculously good about it.

[quote]squating_bear wrote:
You believe your time could be better spent elsewhere

A few of my best guesses

  1. That stuff’s boring. There has got to be funner stuff you could be doing

  2. There’s more important / urgent stuff in this exact moment

  3. Pretty much just repeating. You either care more about other stuff that’s funner. Or you are very stressed and constantly worry about other stuff that needs more immediate attention

  4. This is the hard part. You don’t really believe in whatever it is that you are procrastinating. Maybe it’s a job//business you hate, and can’t really generate the enthusiasm to do something until it comes to the last minute and becomes very urgent. Until the last minute 1 and 2 from above apply. At least the excitement/stress helps make the task less boring, and therefore more do-able. MAYBE deep down you’re hoping you eventually fail - to free you of this crap - but I think that is rare. More likely the extra speed that comes with the limited time and mounting stress just helps you maximize your cost/benefit in regards to how you spend your time

Procrastination itself may or may not be the real problem. I tend to think not. You believe your time could be better spent elsewhere, that is why you do regularly spend it elsewhere. If this happens just with paperwork then Skyz advice of a secretary makes a lot of sense. Or if it’s number 2 from above, hiring people in general might be a good idea. If its a larger problem in life and it speaks towards number 1 above then you might be heading in the wrong direction, and the subconscious knows this while the conscious hates and avoids thinking about it. True procrastination is an internal battle - means different subsets of your mind is at war with each other. Perhaps try and find something all of your minds can agree on, but that’s usually scary. Plus all parts of your mind will never agree on monotonous tasks anyways

Alright, time for me to quit this procrastinating…[/quote]

I disagree with this. Life is full of mundane bullshit and you have to learn to tolerate it if you want meaningful relationships and steady work.

Term, holidays, term, holidays, till we leave school, and then work, work, work till we die. – C. S. Lewis

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:

[quote]IFlashBack wrote:
Something that helped me was taking baby steps.

For me, I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that really big challenges can be broken down into manageable bits. This applies to working out, really big math equations, getting across the country, social encounters, you name it.

Let’s take the tax thing for example. If I were you, I would spend literally 10 minutes out of the day getting the forms together. 10 minutes, that’s it. After those 10 minutes you can do whatever it is you do. But for those 10 minutes, work on your taxes.

Every day for 10 minutes, work on your taxes. Every single day.

This is really helpful! So simple too.

Thanks Flash and Emily!

If I had to guess, I would think that you, and now everyone around you, has labelled you a procrastinator, so when things get tough you fall back into that label because it’s what you know.

So when shit gets overwhelming, just break it down into manageable chunks, and work at it little by little, until it becomes a habit. [/quote]

I was thinking about exactly this as I ran this morning. It’s a good, practical tip.

OP, get a timer (kitchen timer or phone timer or whatever) and start setting it for whatever you think you can handle. I made a lot of progress this way several years ago. I’d do 15 minutes for household tasks (who knew it only takes about 10 minutes to wipe down the inside of a refrigerator, 15 to do a credible job on the bathroom?) and 30 for school work. The timer got me through graduate school, seriously.

What I noticed was that I very often kept going after the time went off. It wasn’t the task I minded, I just had trouble getting started and engaged. Part of that is my ADHD, which is undiagnosed (and doesn’t need to be, I have made accommodations for it and get by just fine).

Another thing I read and started doing is to keep telling myself “it’ll only take two seconds.” It’s really become a part of my make-up. This morning I was headed out for the gym, realized it’s trash day, thought “no, I’m already at the car, I’ll do it later,” then stopped myself by thinking “it’ll take two seconds and I won’t have to mess with it when I’m dressed and carrying stuff to the car for the beach.” I went back and got it. It took two seconds. And I felt ridiculously good about it.[/quote]

I own my own business and I kind of have the same problem. Not to that extent, tho I do see how it can happen!

We went through some serious financial hard times, an audit, and a fire all around the same time. I became so overwhelmed trying to pay shit with nothing and dealing with creditors, insurance, lawyers, etc that I almost froze. I would not even look at bills or in the account until I absolutely had too. I did no paper work at all. I did not fill out any goverment returns, nothing. If I didnt look at it or face it then it couldnt ‘hurt’ me.

For me it was stress, and I just shut down. At the end I procrastinated EVERYTHING, even silly things like closing cupboards.

I MADE myself begin to pluck away at shit. Before we were shut down or something, lol.

Its taken a long time but we are now back on track.

The bad habbits still like to rear their heads tho, ex; this month was a slow month and I have anxiety to look into the account and pay the bills (even tho the money is there right now) I think it scarred me for life!

I think its like a burn out. Being in business is TOUGH!

So not much advice, but I have been there and know how horrible it feels.

You WILL feel better tho each time to take a chunk out of the work no matter how small it is.

Make a small list each day. Like maybe only 5 simple things. Tackle them and scratch that shit off. It feels good!

Adderall…beware, you may take over the world

[quote]coyotegal wrote:
I own my own business and I kind of have the same problem. Not to that extent, tho I do see how it can happen!

We went through some serious financial hard times, an audit, and a fire all around the same time. I became so overwhelmed trying to pay shit with nothing and dealing with creditors, insurance, lawyers, etc that I almost froze. I would not even look at bills or in the account until I absolutely had too. I did no paper work at all. I did not fill out any goverment returns, nothing. If I didnt look at it or face it then it couldnt ‘hurt’ me.

For me it was stress, and I just shut down. At the end I procrastinated EVERYTHING, even silly things like closing cupboards.

I MADE myself begin to pluck away at shit. Before we were shut down or something, lol.

Its taken a long time but we are now back on track.

The bad habbits still like to rear their heads tho, ex; this month was a slow month and I have anxiety to look into the account and pay the bills (even tho the money is there right now) I think it scarred me for life!

I think its like a burn out. Being in business is TOUGH!

So not much advice, but I have been there and know how horrible it feels.

You WILL feel better tho each time to take a chunk out of the work no matter how small it is.

Make a small list each day. Like maybe only 5 simple things. Tackle them and scratch that shit off. It feels good![/quote]

You own you’re own business and you spell “though” t-h-o??

Th only ppl I knw who typ lk tht ar lazy engr stdnts frm th Mddl east

hmm… you could check your hormone levels, too. If you have bad thyroid levels and or low test, it may affect your life. Back in the day people with low thyroid hormones were put into mental hospitals as they were really lazy (they thought laziness was a disease).

read this:

[quote]carbiduis wrote:

[quote]coyotegal wrote:
I own my own business and I kind of have the same problem. Not to that extent, tho I do see how it can happen!

We went through some serious financial hard times, an audit, and a fire all around the same time. I became so overwhelmed trying to pay shit with nothing and dealing with creditors, insurance, lawyers, etc that I almost froze. I would not even look at bills or in the account until I absolutely had too. I did no paper work at all. I did not fill out any goverment returns, nothing. If I didnt look at it or face it then it couldnt ‘hurt’ me.

For me it was stress, and I just shut down. At the end I procrastinated EVERYTHING, even silly things like closing cupboards.

I MADE myself begin to pluck away at shit. Before we were shut down or something, lol.

Its taken a long time but we are now back on track.

The bad habbits still like to rear their heads tho, ex; this month was a slow month and I have anxiety to look into the account and pay the bills (even tho the money is there right now) I think it scarred me for life!

I think its like a burn out. Being in business is TOUGH!

So not much advice, but I have been there and know how horrible it feels.

You WILL feel better tho each time to take a chunk out of the work no matter how small it is.

Make a small list each day. Like maybe only 5 simple things. Tackle them and scratch that shit off. It feels good![/quote]

You own you’re own business and you spell “though” t-h-o??

Th only ppl I knw who typ lk tht ar lazy engr stdnts frm th Mddl east[/quote]

What a petty thing to pick at :smiley:

I apologize that I dont put a whole lot of effort into proper typing on an internet forum based on weight training with a thread called get a life.