It seems I have a problem with procrastination/depression - sometimes I just don't have the energy to do things, then day, weeks and months go by and I am in a huge rut. In this new year I am making a big effort to "come back" from my pit. I realize I have really shut down. I found the following interesting info on procrastinating and cognitive therapy. Procrastination Most of us have experienced problems with procrastination-we put things off until another time and then feel pressured to get it done at the last minute. Procrastination is often accompanied by worry, depression, regret, and stress. It can be both a cause and a consequence of these problems. For example, you might end up worrying and criticizing yourself because you procrastinated. You might procrastinate because you worry you won't get the job done or that you think it will make you too anxious. Areas of procrastination There are several areas of your life where you might procrastinate. For example, you might procrastinate in your social relationships---you don't call friends, you don't initiate interactions with people, and you don't show up on time. Or you might procrastinate about your health---you don't see the doctor or you put off diet and exercise. People procrastinate at work---putting off more unpleasant things until later or not doing the things that the boss wants you to do. And, finally, you might procrastinate about your finances---not getting your tax information in, not getting proper insurance, and not paying your bills. What are the costs and benefits of procrastination? In cognitive therapy we look at the motivation to change your behavior. Your therapist can help you address these problems. But, let's take a look at the costs and benefits of procrastinating. For example, Susan is procrastinating getting her tax information ready. The "costs" to her of procrastinating include greater pressure to get things done at the last minute, possibility of penalties for being late, and self-criticism about procrastination. The "benefits" that she gets in procrastinating are that she can avoid doing something that she finds unpleasant, she can "wait to feel ready" and she can do other things that are more interesting to her. The dilemma of procrastination Consider the following train of thought and ask yourself if something like this seems familiar to you: When I think of doing my taxes I feel anxious. When I begin working on my taxes I feel even more anxious. If I avoid working on the taxes, I feel a reduction in anxiety. Therefore, if I want to reduce my anxiety, I can avoid doing things that make me anxious. but When I procrastinate, I criticize myself and things don't get done. This eventually makes me depressed and even more anxious. Therefore, I am even more inclined to avoid anxiety. Procrastination Predictions When we procrastinate we are often making predictions about the behavior we are avoiding. Do any of these seem familiar? It's too hard. I don't have enough time right now. I don't know how to do it. I'm too far behind already. I'll never catch up. I'd rather do something else. I'll feel worse if I start doing this. I should wait until I feel like doing this. Something even worse will happen if I get this done. Procrastination Assumptions When we procrastinate we may often have certain assumptions or rules that guide us. These rules keep us from doing things that might turn out to be in our interest. Consider some of the following reasons to procrastinate: Entitlement - I'm too good to have to do this. I shouldn't have to do this. These rules shouldn't apply to me. Rejection Sensitivity - If I do this, I'll get rejected. It's terrible if I get rejected. If I get rejected, it means I'm undesirable, worthless. Dependency - Someone else will solve my problems. I should wait for someone to rescue me. Control - I don't like being told what to do. I shouldn't do anything unless it's on my terms when I want to do it. Perfectionism - I shouldn't do anything unless I can do a perfect job of it. I should only start it if I can get the whole thing done. Passive-Aggressive - Why should I do this if it will please someone else? I can deprive them by not doing it. If they really valued me, they'd accept the fact that I don't do this. I can show them who's the boss. Emotional Reasoning - I need to feel inspired--excited--to do this. If I feel it's going to be terrible, then it will be. I should wait for the right feeling. I should wait to be "ready". Low Frustration Tolerance - I can't stand doing things that are unpleasant. If I do this, I'll be depleted and exhausted. I'm too tired. It's too unpleasant. It's terrible to do this. Personal Inadequacy - I am helpless and unlovable. Therefore, I can't do this. If I fail, then I should criticize myself. Past Determination - Since I haven't succeeded in the past, nothing will work. I may as well give up. Self-Defeat - I really don't deserve to succeed, so why bother? If I get this done, then I'll have to do other things after that I'll fail at. I should quit now. Fear of Increased Expectations - If I succeed at this, people will expect more of me and then I'll fail in a big way. I should quit now. Do any of these reasons sound familiar to you? Perhaps you have more than one reason to procrastinate. Your therapist can help you identify the roadblocks that you have that keep you from getting things done. Questions to ask yourself about procrastinating Future-time perspective: Am I focusing on short-term benefits rather than long-term benefits? What are the long-term costs of procrastinating? Cost-benefit: What are the two alternatives? What are the costs and benefits of each? How do they balance out? How about the long-term costs and benefits? Self-discipline: Am I willing to do things I do not want to do? Am I willing to make myself uncomfortable in order to make progress? Am I willing to be consistent and monitor my progress regularly? Assign what, where, when and how much: What--am I willing to do? Where--will I do it? When--will I begin this task? How much-- time will I spend on it? Focus on progress not perfection: It is more important to get started than to be perfect. If it's worth doing it's worth doing at least an average job on it. Self-reward: I should praise myself and reward myself for each step. This will increase my behavior. Be willing to learn: I can revise my behavior--if I start a task and learn I'm not doing well, then I can learn from it.