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Chronic Procrastination

Updated on January 28, 2014

What Is Chronic Procrastination?

What exactly is chronic procrastion? We usually procrastinate when we do smaller, unimportant things when we should be doing our main task, the one that needs our immediate attention.

We all procrastinate now and then, this is quite normal. However there are people who have a more serious problem, called chronic procrastination. And when I mean serious, I mean a matter that needs real help and support.

It is interesting to see the reactions of people when it comes to dealing with folks who procrastinate. In most cases they make fun of them. In extreme cases, they fire them from the business or simply detach themselves from them.

When we are dealing with simple day to day situations, curing procrastination is easy.

However people don't realize that if somebody is a chronic procrastinator, there is an underlying problem behind this, and it is not happening simply because of laziness, or because of simply being too comfortable to do the task at hand.

This is what I have started this article, because people need to be aware that chronic procrastination is a problem, an addictive one at that.

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Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now

Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now
Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now

This is a great book about all aspects of procrastination. What it is, how to cure it, how people cope with it, what are the different reasons for it apprearing in the first place. It's quite a humorous book, had a few chuckles in the process while reading it. A really recommended book, one that will not only help, but also is fun and entertaining to read.

 
addiction
addiction

Is Chronic Procrastination An Addiction?

Until very recently studies were all pointing to procrastination being a time management problem. Basically they were saying that if you can't manage your time properly, if you are lazy, then you tend to procrastinate.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are trying to find the causes for procrastination. They say that if you find the major cause, then you can cure procrastination. And this is in many cases quite a valid way to go about it.

However this process is for regular people who procrastinate because they don't like the task they have to do, or because they're indeed lazy or because they don't have the right motivation.

But recent studies have shown a darker, deeper cause for many cases of procrastination: an addictive personality.

What do I mean by this? There are people who tend to get addicted to something. For example there is alcohol addiction, food addition or drug addiction. In most cases the addiction is not because of some problems the person had - but because the person needs to be addicted to something. If it weren't for the alcohol, then he'd be eating way too much, or taking various drugs.

It is the underlying psychological problem of addiction that really needs to be treated in this case, and not procrastination per se (or whatever other addiction the person is dealing with at the moment).

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Do you think you are a chronic procrastinator?

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time management
time management

Chronic Procrastination And Time Management

One way I've seen therapists deal with procrastinators is by giving them various time management tools that should help them manage their time better.

However in most cases this is not helping, and the reason is what I mentioned before: an addictive personality will simply treat the new time management tool as a new toy to ... procrastinate instead of actually using the tool.

For regular cases beating procrastination can easily be done using time management techniques. There are various ways to do that, such as:

- Creating a place at home whereby you're not disturbed and committing to stay in that place for an x amount of hours

- Using a week and day planner for each task to be done (even including sleep, eating and having fun)

- Find out what times during the day you're lower on energy and schedule the tasks that don't need so much effort for those low energy periods

However for chronic procrastination this will not work. If you are a chronic procrastinator, you'll only use these tips above to do everything upside down. You'll focus so much on the tools themselves that you won't do your tasks...again.

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Books That Help With Chronic Procrastination

I found that there are some books that really help with chronic procrastination. Sometimes you read a book and there is one single tip, one single sentence or phrase that will change your gears, that will give you the AHA moment, that will make the internal shift. You never know what will be the trigger. But it's worth finding out, don't you think?

Are You A Chronic Procrastinator?

addictive gambling
addictive gambling

Chronic Procrastination Is Really Compulsive Procrastination

So what does chronic procrastination have to do with gambling? Well not much, except...

Have you noticed that gamblers (who are of course addicted to gambling) say that it's really not the final payoff that gets their blood pumping, but the actual thrill of the game itself? Many gamblers are notorious losers. Some lose their homes, cars and everything else they own.

Compulsive procrastination, also called compulsive avoidance is just another name for chronic procrastination.

It's basically another form of addiction.

While in many cases it needs serious help from a dedicated (and professional) psychiatrist, there are cases when you can get over your chronic procrastination by simply doing the very thing you say you'll do WHEN you say you'll do it.

It is as simple as that. It is the willpower that you need to stick to your guns and do it instead of finding yet other ways to procrastinate.

I know, it's very simple, yet it needs lots of dedication and commitment. This is because of the addictive escapism that these types of personalities are dealing with and it is not easy to overcome it. But it can be done.

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get rid of chronic procrastination
get rid of chronic procrastination

How To Get Rid Of Chronic Procrastination

Here is something that I found works quite well to get started with the task at hand. It is based on one of the principles of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). It is called anchoring.

What you do is find an anchor (an association) that will lead you to start the task you need to do.

Let's say you like a particular music or song. Put on that very song and get into the trance of listening it. Really "get into the zone" as spiritual Mia Dolan is saying. This creates a very positive mood in you which can be used to start working.

And here I mean just do a bit of work. If you are writing a book, then start a new chapter while listening to the music. 3-5 minutes initially are enough to create that connection, that association or what NLP calls that anchoring. It puts it in place.

Then stop and do something else. Next time you listen to the very song as well, push yourself to do just a bit of work. Not much, just a few sentences or paragraphs of that book you're writing. Just long enough to write while he song plays.

After a few times of doing this, your brain automatically associates that song with you doing this task. Eventually you won't even need the song, all you need is to think about the song and you'll start working. Similar to Pavlov's dog experiment. Just by hearing the bell, the dog was salivating, that's all it took, a couple of associations (anchors).

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Remember

You can cure chronic procrastination. You don't need to go to a psychiatrist. Just follow the steps described here to get started!

Have you ever used anti-procrastinating tools and methods to cure your chronic procrastination?

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set the alarm
set the alarm

Make The Tasks Manageable

One thing that always works in curing chronic procrastination (and in everything else as well) is by breaking down the tasks into smaller, more manageable bits.

Sometimes we procrastinate because we feel overwhelmed of the project standing in front of us. It's just too big like a mountain that you have to climb.

This is when you think differently. Even the biggest mountain can be climbed by taking one step at a time. Eventually, before you know it, you're looking down at the world below you from the top of the mountain.

I know it's clichee, but you know the story about eating an entire elephant...one bit at a time.

This is very true for chronic procrastination as well.

Start by simply writing down your major project and then splitting it into small chunks. However it is important that the small chunks actually include action steps that you will take. They should be quite specific as well.

And just as you deal with small tasks at one time, you also work little by little, in smaller chunks at the same time. It is the same thing really: don't think of the next task as spending the next 10 hours at your computer working on that book. THAT could be extremely overwhelming and the urge to procrastinate kicks in.

What you do is just as I mentioned above, put on the music of your choice, or pick up a timer (this could be another anchor for you, touching that alarm so you know that it's time to work) and set it for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or half an hour at most...at least early on. Using small blocks of time makes the task seem small and quite manageable.

Sometimes that's all it takes...to get started. Then the rest comes on its own...

Not always, but many times.

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Find Books On Proper Time Management - They might not be the only solution, but they definitely help!

Curing Procrastination - Can Procrastination Be Cured At All?
Curing procrastination - what does the term actually mean? Can procrastination be cured? Can you make it end? Is there a hope for hopeless procrastinators? T...

Thank you for visiting my Chronic Procrastination lens. Please leave your comments below.

What are your experiences with chronic procrastination?

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    • profile image

      Elly 

      3 years ago

      Brilliant actionship Laura! Thank you for shraing! Really love and appreciate the handy print outs! So lovely and useful! :) It's a daily process of trying to get things done. I recently started back to school to finish my college degree finally and am amazed by the work load! The insights you lay out are so helpful in my journey to get things done and live my life still!Thank you! love, love, love. Emilyxoxo

    • profile image

      iamHope 

      4 years ago

      @anonymous: I thought I was the only one who chronically procrastinates and I often think of how stupid I am for putting off work only to cause more stress later on. I keep telling myself to "just do it" but I often find myself literally frozen and unable to pick up that book to study for the exam tomorrow, or whatever other work I've put off regardless of the importance of the task. People often think I'm just lazy and careless, and like Phillyfreeze, my friends just tell me to get off my butt and "JUST DO IT!". In fact, just recently a close friend of mine was telling me off for my procrastination habits and thinks that I'm being careless, she says that she's using "tough love" but doesn't understand that this actually causes me to be more anxious and makes me feel even more stupid for not being able to simply start the task.

      I completely relate to what you said TCR, and it's nice to know that I'm not alone and that there are people out there that understand what I'm going through, even if this issue seems silly to others.

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 

      5 years ago

      Thank you - it's good to know that you're not alone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: I AM EXACTLY IN THE SAME BOAT AS YOU! I am doing a University degree, and I just feel I cannot progress and cannot live my life this way. Please, someone help? :(

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 

      5 years ago

      I concur with the deeper root cause of procrastination. I have an addictive personality and decisions can be difficult-easier to put it off rather than face the problem. Blessed

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I'm procstinating.. by reading about procastinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: This is exactly how I feel, I am in the same boat. Just scraping through on a rare productive hour. So glad I am not the only one. How to fix it ?

    • Genycis LM profile image

      Genycis LM 

      5 years ago

      Nice to see the articles that are available at squidoo such as this one regardign procrastinating. Some people don't feel it's an issue but it's actually a bigger problem than most realize or admit to. Great lens you wrote up. I almost decided to write this comment later but decided to do it now. Lol, j/k. Great lens though!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      My whole life I have been having problems with paying attenton and procrastination. I will literally wait and hour before a class to do a project, homework, write an essay, and everything pretty much. I always wait until the very last minute for EVERYTHING. I have even been trying to get work done and I can't. I really REALLY want to get work done early and not procrastinate, but no matter how bad I just can't do it and its driving me insane. I do very well believe I have an addicting personality. It's not that I procrastinate on purpose because I really don't. I get distracted very easily which usually leads to my procrastination, but I don't just get distracted when I know I have something to do. I have never been good at paying attention in class or even talking to someone. I do try to focus but I end up every time realizing I haven't been paying attention. It usually just takes me one word or phrase or an obect in the room to throw me off of paying attention for a long time. I just want help and to finally pay attention and not procrastinate so bad!! :(

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I am a serial procrastinator. I cannot ignore any longer that I need help. I've been this way for as long as I can remember. I know I am capable of everything I want to achieve but there are times I just cannot move. Most times, I will wait until the absolute last possible minute to do what I need to do. Hence, the stress/anxiety that comes along with procrastinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      The thing is I think I am a chronic Procrastinator as I have an avoidant personality, caused by being dropped by peers at school and bullied. I can spend hoyrs virtually sitting doing nothing as I cannot bare to interract with anything, either responsibilities to people or things I have to get on with. I drag myself to my family's events to support them only. I am a very capable person and intelligent, so realise what I am letting build up, but I simply can't get on with doing anything. I wonder if hormones play a part in it as I will have say one or two days a month which are super productive and I get lots of things done, then I slump back into lethargy. I cannot work at the moment as I cannot cope with the feelings of inadequacy and I become paranoid about people judging me and I cannot work as efficiently as I need to. I can get through interviews well, but I don't keep up or deliver what I am capable of to the employer. I just about scrape by thanks to my rare lucid days, but every day I am anxious about everything. I certainly can't 'just do it'............

    • profile image

      termit_bronx 

      6 years ago

      This is one of the major problems for people. We always do things which are not important instead of doing most important tasks. So we don't move toward our goals. I also have this problem sometimes. We all should "eat a frog" in the morning, like Brian Tracy said.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @LisaMarieGabriel: THATS ME!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @smithlights: Yep ikr?! i'm procrastinating right now!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @Phillyfreeze: When you have chronic procrastination you are fully aware of the "just do it" slogan but the problem is you can't do it even if you know it will cause you problems by not doing it, you just push it away until tomorrow and then the next day, this then adds to your feelings of anxity because you know you should just do it but, you can't. Phillyfreeze I am sure your sentiments are well meant but it really is not that simple.

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 

      6 years ago

      Sometimes it helps to set a time limit on making decisions. If something is not too important, I try to limit myself to just spending 60 seconds or so making a decision.

    • CHalloran LM profile image

      CHalloran LM 

      6 years ago

      I am a chronic procrastinator and I didn't find much of the self help books helpful. I do agree with some of the things you mention here like addiction etc. But I do not see lack of time management skills as a reason for procrastination, more like a result of procrastination for some things. Well to beat it, I started writing about my procrastination experience, and since writing is my passion, writing about procrastination helps me discover a lot about the reasons why I am procrastinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I am a serious chronic procrastinator and it is all because of the #2 reason mentioned in the video. My perfectionism and meticulousness makes it impossible to move forward with a task because I just can't move forward without knowing that the last part of the task is as perfect as it will ever be. Unfortunately to make something perfect is so time-consuming and inefficient that it ends up taking me triple the time it should to complete the whole task at hand, making it seem overwhelming and frightening me from starting it. So I put it off until the stress level runs so high from the approaching due date that I work under the power of adrenaline for hours on end in order to finish the project - I use the excuse of the due date is coming and "there is not enough time left to be perfect" as a way to force myself to move on regardless of how it looks. Unfortunately I wish there was a way to beat this without having to resort to getting stressed out from a time crunch.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @Phillyfreeze: Not that simple if you read above...hello. If I could "Just Do IT" I would have along time ago and I wouldn't be here.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Although I have never been plaqued by chronic procrastination I can recall a very successful advertising slogan by the Nike company (makers of athletic footwear and apparel) their mantra was JUST DO IT!

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 

      6 years ago

      I definitely have chronic procrastination, tho I am getting better at it. I do a lot of online work (it's my second job) and can easily sit down at the computer and be lost for hours. So now I set a timer for 15 min. When it goes off I have to get up and go do a housekeeping task from my list. Then I can get back on the computer for another 15 minutes. this is helping me find some balance in my life.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I once had to be locked in a room to finish my proposal so I learned to program my time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Help, just what I needed to read today. I tell you I can procrastinate, on yes! This is helpful, and very well written, thanks for sharing this information. ~ Blessings!

    • StudioElysee profile image

      StudioElysee 

      7 years ago

      Found your lens in the forum as well - - I found the thread title "Finally finished lens on procrastination" (or something to that effect) to be too much to resist!! Great lens, and much truth to it.

    • Surfer83 profile image

      Surfer83 

      7 years ago

      Really love the title Chronic Procrastination good. I got your link from the forum when I saw the word Chronic Procrastination I clicked the link as fast as I could. It shows how good the title is not that I'm a chronic procrastination but I do sometimes admit doing some tiny procrastination =)

      Thank you for sharing.

    • cheech1981 profile image

      cheech1981 

      7 years ago

      one of my biggest distractions is just opening up an internet window...usually i'll open the net to research something for a work project and then off i go!

    • profile image

      Davidc2100 

      7 years ago

      When I write a list it is amazing how efficient I can be. Trouble is usually when I get round to starting one something will always distract me. I really am not joking!

      Thank you for your critique yesterday.

      David

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Yeah I find that I only procrasinate when I don't plan properly - so there is a message in that for me. well done

    • mhg0213 lm profile image

      mhg0213 lm 

      7 years ago

      lol, well I definitely procrastinate. If someone every tells me I'm like that again, they are going to be directed to this page! Great content, thanks for sharing :)

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 

      7 years ago

      Though I have never related this to the addictive personality, and I do not think this is why I procrastinate, but I used to be a perfectionist and are easily distracted.

      Now I just do what I have to, even if it not so well done.

      I really enjoyed this lens, I think I can take away some helpful hints from it.

    • katemiya profile image

      katemiya 

      7 years ago

      I like to think of myself as an expert procrastinator. I've been meaning to write a lens about it, but I keep putting it off. :)

      Seriously, I don't know if I agree with the idea of it being a symptom of an addictive personality. It could be a learned behavior, if say, you found that when you completed projects in a timely manner you often had to change them. You may have decided it wasn't worth bothering to finish them until the last minute, and then you took that experience and spread it over all deadline-related tasks. Just a thought.

    • kislanyk profile imageAUTHOR

      Marika 

      7 years ago from Cyprus

      @KarenTBTEN: Thanks Karen, interesting theory on the ADHD, I'll have to research more into this. But indeed, in many cases the issue is simply a matter of being intimidated by a major project and time management. That's why I also included those points in this lens because many people can actually relate to them indeed.

    • kislanyk profile imageAUTHOR

      Marika 

      7 years ago from Cyprus

      @the-good-stuff: Yes, it's more than just laziness, in many cases it's based on a real underlying problem. Of course how serious it is (or not) is different for every person.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I am the world's worst! It takes me ages to get started on some things. Once I do I just keep going until I have finished thouigh :D

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 

      7 years ago

      I hadn't heard the addiction theory -- interesting! I did read something that might be related. I read that people with ADHD might procrastinate because they were low on brain stimulants; putting something off until the last minute could make it more stimulating on a neurological level -- i.e. rev up those brain chemicals. I do think things often have a neurologic cause that isn't apparent on the surface. But probably the majority of the time, things like procrastination do reflect more basic issues (time management or feeling intimidated).

    • kislanyk profile imageAUTHOR

      Marika 

      7 years ago from Cyprus

      Hahaha good one!

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 

      7 years ago

      Squidoo is my favorite way to procrastinate...

    • the-good-stuff profile image

      the-good-stuff 

      7 years ago

      Don't know if I'm a chronic procrastinator, but I sure procrastinate a lot. I got in trouble for it in uni all the time. What the video said about the fear of success is absolutely true for me. Never realized it was an actual problem beyond laziness, though.

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