Don’t you wish you could make a business out of procrastinating? Like a surrogate procrastinator: People pay you to procrastinate for them so they can get shit done. I’m sure someone else has thought of that and just never got around to it, but it sounds pretty great.
Unfortunately, being professional procrastinators just won’t pay the bills. (Except maybe for George R.R. Martin. Anyone else dying for the next installment of A Song of Ice and Fire???) You’ll never beat procrastination fully—like your shadow and that scar you got in a really embarrassing way, procrastination will always be with you. But that doesn’t mean you have to fold.
What do we say to the god of procrastination? Not today—maybe tomorrow.
The good news is you’re in rarefied company: even Victor Hugo procrastinated writing The Hunchback of Notre Dame and look, they made a Disney movie out of his work! (Fun fact: Hugo cured his procrastination by taking away all his own clothes so he couldn’t go outside and had no choice but to write.)
This article posits that we’re just not good at living for the future, since we’re not there yet. Delayed gratification? So passé. But don’t worry—there are three useful tips for overcoming procrastination in this article too, like finding a commitment device, like Hugo’s clothes or lack thereof.
Does it help you to know why we procrastinate? At worst, reading this article will give you a few more minutes to put off whatever it is you really have to do.
It could come down to two “faulty beliefs.” First, life is supposed to be easy, and second, that our success dictates our self worth. So basically our excuses are variations of “It’s too hard,” or “But it won’t be perfect.”
This article doesn’t necessarily give you tools for not procrastinating, but it’s an interesting look into some of the motivations behind not being able to just do it, already.
If you’re still reading, presumably you’d like to, you know, work through your procrastination instead of being enabled.
Got you loud and clear. This thoroughly amusing yet informative and brilliantly illustrated piece by Tim Urban on Wait But Why can help you out. The post is a few years old, but it’s one of the best we’ve seen out there.
First, you’ve got to become an effective planner. Usually your ultimate goal is “icky”—like writing a novel or growing your business. So you have to un-icky-fy it, and that starts with planning.
Remember how usually once you get started, things flow and it’s sort of fun? You have to get yourself to that point. Unfortunately, getting started is the hardest and most painful part. Urban really gets into it here with quality Paint illustrations, so go check it out. And then keep reading for getting started and keeping a good pace.
I wish I’d thought to point out that procrastination’s southern belle poster child is Scarlett O’Hara, [Think “I’ll think about it tomorrow, when I can stand it.”] but 99U beat me to it.
While we may have mentioned that procrastination is due to fear, 99U recommends creating a bit of fear, and cites Conan O’Brien as a case study.
More tricks? Breaking down the project and working on it a little bit each day, and changing your view of deadlines.
Later (via @NewYorker)
If you want to go back a bit for a more philosophical take on procrastination, this is your article. Did you know that the economist George Ainslie thinks that procrastination is “as fundamental as the shape of time and could well be called the basic impulse.”
Or just embrace the procrastination.