I can get a lot done as long as I’m using the tasks I’m completing to put off something else. A professor at Stanford in the 90s wrote a humorous essay about structured procrastination, where he stated that procrastinators could still be high achievers, they just needed to complete important tasks as a method to procrastinating tasks that are even more important.
I’ve always been a procrastinator, and I definitely like to be lazy sometimes, but I’m also a pretty motivated person. I want my family and friends to be proud of me, I want people to know they can count on me, and mostly, I want to make sure I accomplish something with my life.
Procrastination can definitely be a hindrance to feeling like I’m doing anything with my life. After working a 10 hour day, I usually feel like I’ve accomplished enough. I’m perfectly happy vegging out for the rest of the night. I have no problem spending at least one day of my 3 day weekends lying in bed. I feel like I’ve earned it. And there is a lot going on online, which means a lot of times, I’m at least accomplishing becoming aware of issues (or keeping up with some social media fad).
I often come up with projects I want to complete. I have a bin full of craft items that might be destined for neglect. I have a variety of interests – cooking, music, writing, reading, loom knitting, the list goes on. The problem is, once I decide I want to complete a project, it becomes an obligation. But not an obligation that I need to complete for someone else; those I honor. This is more like something that I now am required to do, and when I’m at home vegging, I don’t like being required to do anything. Here are some examples of things that I really want to do but keep putting off:
1. Learn to play guitar (and yes, I have a sadly neglected guitar)
2. Make hats and scarves
3. Make liquor bottle lamps
4. Finish the tote bags that I started decorating over 8 years ago
5. Read about a billion books (some that I own, others I’m even procrastinating buying, because my reading list is so overwhelmingly long that I’ve apparently shut down and decided ignoring it is the best option).
6. Get the publishing company I’ve recently acquired off the ground.
7. Create a “cooking with booze” cookbook (I’ve started testing some recipes even, just haven’t written them down, taken pictures, or any of the other hundreds of necessary steps).
Those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head. there are probably a lot more, and many that I’ve long forgotten. I often am able to channel my procrastination for one task in order to complete several others (example: I did about 6 household chores tonight before tackling writing a blog post). But now that I’m trying to run a business, I can’t afford to procrastinate the most important thing. And it’s not like I can just invent some “more important” task that I can use working on the publishing company to procrastinate. Because it’s not that easy for me to trick myself.
So how do you battle procrastination? I know the easiest answer is to just stop. To just get up and do whatever it is I’m avoiding. But I’m looking for strategies that don’t rely so blatantly on self control. Let me know what you think!