Procrastination Prevention Ideas

Anyone who has read more than a few sentences here in my madness of a blog knows that I am a terrible procrastinator. I’m always looking around for things to stop me from doing so. If I have a deadline, I will always meet it. (Hint: NEVER make a deadline flexible with me. I will flex it to Neverday, the 33rd of the month). If I have a hard deadline, I will meet it, and I will generally do quality work.

There are the normal tips you hear all the time: breaking your work into smaller chunks, make several smaller deadlines, stop overcomplicating things, “just do it”, get new friends because yours are the problem (like every procrastinator is a loser-magnet), do the hardest thing first, disable your internet, remove all porn from your easy access (I made that one up myself), mentally start your day over at about midday, tell people about your goal so they guilt you into complying with your personal deadlines (unless they are the aforementioned losers, apparently), play games with the clock (unless it’s hitting “snooze” in the morning, this one is just stupid), and so on.

I don’t know that any of these work for me. I am procrastinating right now. I am writing this when I have mountains of work to do…but don’t want to do it. I’ve already done about a day’s worth of work. I could do more, but instead…here we are.

I’ve tried most of those things, and few of them work with any real consistency. I like the mini-deadlines and the mini-chunks of work. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and therefore  spurs you onward. It’s like dieting or working out and feeling that your pants are a little looser or seeing muscle tone. Those are little victories on your way to your ultimate goal and help move you forward. How many people have quit a diet because they don’t see results right away? Like, “I just ate a salad. Am I skinny yet?”

One tip I recently heard actually sounds like it could work. It induces the panic of a deadline by converting the units of time.

For instance, I have a deadline for the marketing form coming up, and it’s sooner than I would like. However, it’s well over a week away. When I think of it in that time scale, it’s easy to push it off. “Almost two weeks is a long time,” I lie to myself. No, it’s 13 days. Or it’s 312 hours. Or you could say that it’s only 18,720 minutes away. For some, those units of measurement and the large numbers attached could work the opposite way, giving a false sense of security. All I can recommend is to go home, take a nap, play video games or watch a movie or binge watch Hannibal, and then recalculate. Say you take 4 hours doing all that. You’re down to 308 hours, or 18,480 minutes. See how that sort of jars you into saying, “Oh…crap. Uh, gotta get to work.”

Think of all those minutes lost to necessary sleep, or bathroom trips, or eating. When you see that number dwindling as every minute passes, it kicks you right in the ass. At least, it has the potential to. It sort of messes with my head, and it’s supposed to.

Take my work day, for instance.  I have about 2 hours left at work. PLENTY of time to do what I want to before the day is over. Or, I have 120 minutes. Or 7,200 seconds. And I just spent about two minutes checking my math. That’s 120 seconds gone.

Uh, I need to get my little ass to work.

(Later update: I really focused and got all my work done. Coincidence? Probably…)

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~ by Darren Endymion on June 1, 2015.

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