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Procrastination Is Like Masturbation*

Topics: Lifestyle & Culture | Add A CommentBy admin | October 3, 2009

It feels fine while you’re doing it, but in the end you realize you just effed yourself.

Help. I’ve recently become the person I detest: a Procrastinator. Generally, I’m one of the more organized, productive, and on-schedule people you’ll meet. I like feeling peaceful, and I feel peaceful when things are complete and in order. Feeling on top of things also keeps one ready to accept new opportunities, and to me, that’s what life is all about. New experience, learning, and growth. So how, oh how and why did this happen to me? Well, as a friend pointed out recently, when it comes to procrastination, “why” is over-rated. The fact is, the problem is immediately solved by simply DOING things. Duh. But if you’re having trouble getting out of the weeds, it might help to know why. This Psychology Today piece explains a lot of things about procrastinators, including the three basic types: “Arousal Types”, who wait ’til the last minute for the euphoric rush. “Avoider Types”, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, and “Decisional Types”, who avoid making a decision to absolve themselves of responsibility for the outcome. I in fact have had a more neurotic version recently, which combines the Arousal and Avoider types with social/media overload and a devious unconscious plot to undermine my self-esteem. I know better than to excessively try to multitask (check out this NPR piece if you think you’re good at it), but it’s almost unavoidable with today’s prevalence of texting, voice phones, Facebook, e-mail, and real life. One thing I didn’t know though, was that multitasking is actually muddling and generally wrecking our brains. Also worthy of note is that strangely, regular multitaskers are the worst multitaskers. So what to do? First of all, if you want to further procrastinate, or aren’t sure if you are a procrastinator, take the Procrastination Test. Now there’s a bundle of irony for you. If you take the test right now, are you just putting off something else? And if you don’t take it right now, you better just decide you never will, otherwise you’re just procrastinating. Personally, when I need to get back on track, I’m a big fan of the concepts in the book Getting Things Done. It’s a great book both for those who have never been organized, as well as those who just need a refresher or some new tips. The book takes some really simple principles like this to get you in motion:

What is it? Is it actionable?

  • If not, trash it, put it in a tickler file or put it in a reference file.
  • If so, what’s the next action? The next action is defined as the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion.

Will next action take less than 2 minutes?

  • If yes, do it.
  • If no, delegate it or defer it.

If it will take longer than 2 minutes, consider it a project (defined as requiring more than one action step) and put it in your project plans which will be reviewed for actions.

That’s just a starter. There are many, many, GTD Wikis and groups that build on these ideas, so if you don’t want to buy the book, just do searches on GTD, Getting Things Done, and David Allen. I for instance found a nice one-sheet PDF at getrichslowly.org. A screen shot is below. You can take these simpler principles on up to broader levels using things like the Horizons of Focus concept, but personally, I’m starting small. Just for today, I’m shutting off one of (!) the phones, cleaning out the inboxes, not having lunch with you, putting on some productivity sounds, and looking forward to a non-existent “to do” list.

*It feels fine while you’re doing it, but in the end you realize you just effed yourself.