Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Procrastination

I am a procrastinator.  That might surprise people who see me as pretty organised.  And yet, procrastinating is a great temptation for me a lot of the time.  When I'm not procrastinating, it's usually because I've just put it off till later.

You can procrastinate because you are feeling lazy.  This would be the case with my shower cleaning (or lack of it). Sometimes you avoid tasks when you are are not sure you can accomplish them perfectly.  Often, it's not so much a conscious decision to procrastinate as just the failure to schedule a time to do it right now.

Hence, I'm on a continual learning curve trying to beat my procrastinating tendancies to ensure that stuff gets done.  This week, while delaying the folding of the washing, I read a good post at Buttoned Up with 12 anti-procrastination tips.

I am definitely someone who overestimates how long a job will really take. I can survey a pile of dishes and conclude that there is at least a half an hour of hard work in front of me.  Then I finish and look at the clock and it was actually only an 8 minute job.

I also struggle to get into a task if I don't think I can get the whole thing done at once.  I need to get better at breaking things up into smaller mouthfuls so that I focus on getting one part done at a time rather than fussing over how long it will take to complete it entirely.

So the 12 tips were great but I would like to add one of my own:

If you're not going to do what you should be doing, at least do something useful.

That's my little rule of thumb when a big procrastinating panic hits me.  If I'm not going to work on what I should be doing, I try to make sure what I do instead is at least productive and will alleviate stress later when I do get back to my task.  Not going to finish your essay?  Then you need to clean the toilet and put another load of washing on the line.  So at least something that needed to get done is getting done.  As it turns out, when I start doing something useful, my stress levels usually fall and calm returns and I feel ready to get stuck into whatever it was I was avoiding.  If not, at least I haven't wasted an hour watching some obscure American sitcom with a dodgy plot line.

Anybody else got a good tip for beating procrastination?

2 comments:

Karen said...

No tips here since I am procrastinating about writing a job application as I type this....

But I do find that often tasks that appear to be overwhelming seem less so when you get stuck in and do something. And when it's cleaning/tidying/washing I'm avoiding I use my "I'll just do fifteen minutes of cleaning/tidying/washing and then sit down" strategy. Often I get more done than I expect to in the fifteen minute time frame, or just getting started is enough to keep me going for longer...

Deb said...

You're so right, Karen. It's the getting started bit.... Reminds me of that quote from Tolkien:
"It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish."