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Procrastination and Depression. Tuesday July 28, 2015

Okay, so I admit I am a master procrastinator. Ever since my university days when I would wait till the night before to revise and rely on caffiene and adrenaline to get me through.

I am realising that for me procrastination and depression are strongly linked.

My very good friend Kate and two of her children were coming to stay. I knew about it for weeks but could not/would not force myself to get our home 'visitor ready' until 1pm on the day she was arriving. I was expecting the arrival time to be 6pm.

Thank the good Lord for my husband. He was doing things and getting the children to help. Then he politely told me to put down my crossword and wait until I had finished my jobs before picking it up again.

When I have that overwhelming energy-zapping I've got lots of stuff that I don't want to do feeling, it's awful.

And then when I finally get around to doing it I feel a million bucks!

Sooo frustrating! I need to find a way to inspire myself to do the things that need to be done.

When I am out working this is not a problem due to my people pleasing habits (although I am a bit concerned that my people pleasing habits have gone down the proverbial gurgler!).

I really struggle to do stuff that I don't want to do. I am a rebel without a cause.

Oh well, now that I can see my problem, maybe I can fix it.

No advice required :-). It will most probably make me cranky!

I like figuring things out on my own. Please share what works for you though.

A Moodscope member.

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Jac Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 4:03am

Loved this Theresa, no advice(!) but you certainly aren't on your own......why do we do it????? Can I guess? - possibly not enough to do? I had a really good day yesterday, had a list and did so many more things than I would ever have expected. Still buzzing and so can't sleep now!! That's life!

Hopeful One Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 7:31am

Hi Theresa- great blog. Common problem especially in depression as the NUTS (Negative unconscious thoughts) or ANTS (automatic negative thoughts- one can take one's pick depending on which appeal at the time) start ruling the roost. I get going by telling myself that the reward of having done anything is to have done it in the first place followed by loads of internal congratulations and a little treat like doing that crossword but AFTER not BEFORE completion of said task!

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 8:13am

Thanks Theresa - this is me too, almost exactly. People pleasing gets me places most days - but for the right/wrong reasons - I don't know. When I'm on my own it's v hard - best days are when I decide I don't need to do anything & quieten the rebel - then I potter about and enjoy what I do get done.

Sarah M Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 8:26am

Great blog and can relate to that last minute panic! Is friend once said to me pre visit - it's ok I give you permission to not clean up before my visit- so I didn't! What happened? We had a great time in a slightly messy house :) sometimes letting go of what we think we have to do is quite interesting( and sCary) but does reduce the list of things to do. Hope ur friend enjoyed their stay x

Julia Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 8:37am

Theresa..I love your bit saying no advice please!
I don't procrastinate but do the opposite, get everything done in advance having worried about it all or weeks beforehand. I have thought about leaving the house messy and letting go as Sarah M's friend said to her but have never managed to do this.

Sally Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 8:56am

Opportune post! Have a deadline today, got up to do it ( a piece of writing), did housework, tidied garage, moved furniture, phoned a friend.....deadline gets nearer.....panic on now . CAN I achieve said piece of writing by deadline? Maybe/ maybe not. It all depends on how much else thrilling stuff I can find to procrastinate on! Why indeed do we DO this to ourselves? The logical brain says JUST DO IT, the other part just will not obey! Ho hum

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 9:18am

I used to irritate people at work (in a consultancy) by "maximising my thinking time" and sometimes that is exactly what it is. I think it was Hemingway who said "I love deadlines: I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly past!"

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 9:33am

Hi Theresa, I've been getting daily blogs through emails and have read them everyday but today I actually laughed to myself because it was like reading a blog from myself. I'm the same in all circumstances, to the point now where I might fail my open uni module. I've left the last assignment for so long finding other things to do and constantly putting it off either because I've been too depressed or just doing something else "more important" . I've realised these blogs aren't just for advice but to show you that you are not the only person that feels this way. Thank you for your blog.

The Painted Statue Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 10:15am


Fab .post !

You have described me to a "T"

Any solutions out there????

"Just do it " Does not work for me just brings out my rebellious nature.

We feel like a million $ when we do it !

So why, oh why are we so unhelpful to ourselves????

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 10:44am

I've wanted to get all my papers in order for years now. In theory I know how to do it. In practise - it's not happened. Well I did leave a really good system for my ex-husband to take over. Then I managed - what a deadline eh.

But to do it for ME? Well. This time I've taken to clearing out every little cupboard and even arranging a garage sale before getting down to the only 3 cm (only actually) pile on my livingroom floor of admin papers.

Last week - yes I've been working on this process 1-7 hours a day now for 2 weeks now - I had a dream which convinced me that I could do this organising thing. I even woke up realising I thrive on organising things. I do. I love it. Yet I've not allowed myself to do this. Even bought the files and filedividers four years ago but couldn't get down to it. I was not worthy of it I think, in my mind I mean - because of course I am worthy of it really.

So I commit to you lot to do it now. Then off down town to sell my wedding gown and get a power of attourney to deal with the economy of the children. Yes now I am an a role.

Usually when I feel like not doing anyting I'm quite happy just getting the kitchen zink clean - that usually gets me in a much happier mood.

Thank you so much for this post!

Lots of love,

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 11:12am

Personally I could really do with some help/suggestions how to stop procrastinating !

The Entertrainer Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 12:34pm

My motto has always been, "Procrastinate Now!"

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 1:15pm

I need some great helpful tips please. Concrete examples gratefully accepted.

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 1:18pm

PS am also dreadful at taking advice/being told what to do, but will happily read any ideas people have re: dealing with this successfully.

Ms Goo Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 2:07pm

I could have written this post - these are my behaviours and thought processes exactly - and I completely agree that procrastination and depression are linked.
Certainly, procrastination has had some damaging consequences for me: missed out on honours in my degree because I left a project I could have done well to the night before, money wasted in bank charges because I didn't pay attention to my finances, relationships with family strained because I didn't live up to commitments made. Opportunities to do new things or spend time having fun have also been wasted, as I scramble to make up for lost time doing things I ought to have done weeks/months before.
For me, procrastination is definitely linked to my tendency towards perfectionism. I think "I can't do this now because I don't have the time/skills/intelligence/looks/confidence/fitness to do it perfectly, so I'll put it off until perfection can be achieved". Of course, this is complete BS because what ends up happening is a last-minute frantic attempt, sleepless nights, massive anxiety and risk of failure. When something done at the last minute like this fails, it feeds the sense of inadequacy and unworthiness that drives perfectionism. It also fuels the voice in my head saying, “See, you shouldn’t even bother trying, you’re rubbish at this.” When something last minute succeeds, it reinforces the behaviour.
I have pondered whether procrastination is a type of self-sabotage, and I think it could be the consequence of underlying feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy and shame: I don't deserve to succeed, I'm not good enough - see, look I left it to the last minute AGAIN like the loser I am! At the same time, I think procrastination could be a bogus defence mechanism: we want to avoid looking our responsibilities, strengths and weaknesses in the eye, so we get busy alphabetizing our CDs.
At the age of thirty, I am trying harder than ever to break out of the cycles of depression, anxiety, addiction, inadequacy and unworthiness that have been a constant since I was in my mid-teens. I know that I can’t continue this way, and I don’t want to miss out on the highs and lows of life because I am paralyzed by fear of failure, inadequacy and lack of confidence.
For me, the most important first step has been to be honest with myself about what causes my self-destructive behaviours, and acknowledge that I have the power to do something about it (have to do this again and again, not easy). The second step is to be kinder to myself when I fail/fear failing (work in progress), and the third is to talk honestly and openly with the people I care about and trust the most about what’s going on (also work in progress, also very hard).
I think that procrastination is different for different people, but I think it can be a deeply damaging behaviour and is a symptom of feeling inadequate and lacking self-compassion for many.

Margie Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 2:39pm

Great post! Describes my life-long procrastination to a T! I have been know to be scrubbing the toilets as my guests pull in the drive. I have found wise, kind, research based help on the "iProcrastinate podcast". It is by Tim Pychyl, a professor at Carelton University in Ottawa, Canada. I find when I am kind to myself, acknowledge that I am feeling dread and procrastinating, but JUST GEt STARTEd anyway......great things happen. Keeping the sink clean also helps enormously when I get on a roll! Let the researchers answer why! I am going to both accept and change

Anonymous Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 3:24pm

It's that bit about feeling GREAT after you finally get it done! I can remember that good feeling the next time, but I STILL can't make myself stop procrastinating until the very last minute. Then I have a marathon session trying to get it done. WHY do we do it to ourselves?

DawnC.Ritchie Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 5:53pm

I've just bought ten archive boxes so I can sort my house out, to put like things together :-)

Lynn in Raleigh Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 8:05pm

I'm feeling like that just now. I got home a few days ago after a relaxing 3 week visit with my sister (who, by the way, has a house as neat as a pin!) I'm sitting in my messy living room(it doesn't matter which room actually because they're all messy) which only adds to the depression. I know what works is to write a list of small, specific chores that need to be done, do one, check it off the list and take a short break before doing what's next. It works... I just don't want to do it (that's my inner child who's about 2). So I'll just sit here dressed to go to the gym...thinking about it. Maybe I'll even get there.

David J Tue, Jul 28th 2015 @ 11:02pm

Looks like lots of people are relating to this post. Me too, in a big way.
The first time I went to Uni I would be up all night before my essay had to be handed in. I dropped out and then went a second time a few years later and couldn't even make myself start a single essay. I was in a bad way at the time and had to leave again.
I don't have any original answers of my own. I think like a lot of unhelpful habits, it takes time to change, and needs to be tackled in steps, making sure to acknowledge the small victories along the way.
If I can just start the thing that I'm putting off, I feel so much better like others have said.
It is all about anxiety for me and needing to feel in control of possible outcomes. If I can't know how something is going to turn out or have confidence in an outcome I find it very hard to take the plunge. It's like having an over-active brain that my decision making faculties can't keep up with. Before I've had chance to start I've thought of a million reasons not to. It's almost a mental paralysis at times.
I did read something interesting in an advice column the other day about Executive Functioning which I'll have to look more into.
All the best with it Theresa, and thank you for sharing, it's nice to relate.
'Little steps' are words I always come back to with these things.

Theresa NZ Wed, Jul 29th 2015 @ 12:28am

I needed to read all your comments today. We have just finished winter school holidays here in New Zealand, my husband has gone back onto shift-work - and I am feeling that same old funk coming on. So, after reading your comments, I feel better and more inspired. Thank you. I have recently become aware of a practice called 'guilt-free cocooning' - where, when I feel overwhelmed - I take some time out just for me - and give myself some self-love. This can be in the form of a luxurious sleep-in [where I make my bed with fresh sheets], a nap, a visit to a cafe, an art gallery, a library, or a relaxed walk in nature. Something just for me. GUILT FREE!. I am finding this practice to be rejuvenating. Sending you lots of love. You can find me on Facebook as Aunty Trees, Musings. xo Theresa

Anonymous Wed, Jul 29th 2015 @ 5:09am

I just read a book about habits, the title is a bit American (it is written by an American lady...) "Better than before": She describes different types of people when it comes to changing habits like procrastination. In a nutshell, she found 4 behaviour patterns of which one is called "The rebel"! These people love their free, autonomous deciscions so much and hate to be told, that they only get going if it is entirely their own free decision and not a "you should, you must, it would be a good idea if..... "Giving them any advice will only cause a "rebel reaction"=strike! According to the author, this is all no problem, just one of the many variations of how people are and once you know it you can deal with it and inform others, like you clearly did: NO ADVICE ;-)

Anonymous Wed, Jul 29th 2015 @ 7:57am

I love your Pen-Name.
Today I will call my new landlord and arrange a moving in date. My reservations are: my rented room is small, and I'm living with people I don't know. Being bi-polar makes me flip between nervous and over-confident. What was nice during yesterday's viewing was that the guy's mum showed me the house, as well as one of my prospective housemates. I was more at ease, and I think it showed. Lists of things to do on walls are for teachers. Diaries in pockets feel better to me. Buy the most garish you can and smile when you produce it on a crowded railway platform. Hope this helps. Painted Statue.
Love, Rich x

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