Revisting: The Structure of Procrastination

Today I was revisiting some posts from the beginnings of this blog, and came across this one. I think it’s worth repeating:

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The term procrastination is generally thought of as a problem, but, is it really? Have you ever heard of “just-in-time” production or inventory? The theory is that a company will save money and waste by making or purchasing exactly what’s needed, exactly when it’s needed. Are you short-changing yourself by waiting until the last minute? Or, are you using your time wisely and still getting the things done you want to get done?

Do you procrastinate because of how you try to motivate yourself to do things? It normally starts like this: “Today I’m finally going to clean my desk (or do the laundry, or write that blog entry, or whatever thing I’ve been putting off),” I say to myself, usually in my head, but always to myself.

Some part of my brain, probably the smarty-pants part, thinks that what I’m really saying is: “hey stupid, this is such an easy thing, what’s wrong with you that you haven’t done it yet?” Which isn’t exactly nice and the five-year-old part of me who is in charge of cleaning my desk doesn’t like anyone to be mean to her, even herself. So she decides she’s not going to do what the mean person says and instead is going to be nice to herself for a while and does some pleasant things like talk to friends, read email or books, make a cup of tea. Guess what? The desk doesn’t get cleaned.

Now, what if I reminded myself of the nice reasons why I want a clean desk. I love looking at a clean desktop, I think more clearly, I can find things more quickly. Then when I get in touch with how great that feels, I’m beginning to feel more inspired.

Getting in touch with the positive reasons for doing anything make it more likely that you’ll actually do it. And, just for good measure (and the reassurance of the five-year-old part of me) I’m only going to do as much as I can in 15 minutes.

One last thing to consider, do you really need to do what’s on your to-do list, particularly those items that have been lingering there for sometime? Perhaps it’s just not that important, and you can let it go, accepting the fact that you aren’t going to do it. But please, I wouldn’t recommend this for your taxes.

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