HOW TO PROCRASTINATE

I meant to write this article a year ago...

  • kentona
  • 05/21/2015 09:48 PM
  • 10278 views
Nearly a quarter of adults around the world are chronic procrastinators. And there is no reason why you can't also be one of them! Just follow these helpful steps and you, too, can worm your way into that exclusive club. Take it from me, a 33 year veteran of procrastination.



Relieve Tension By Doing Easily Accomplished Tasks First
Corollary: Avoid the hardest/most tedious tasks until the end

It's not that procrastinators are lazy, it is that they busy themselves with doing things other than what they are supposed to be doing. Or, at the very least, focusing on tasks that produce relatively little value while avoiding the tasks that would generate the greatest results. By focusing on the little easy tasks, you are tricking your brain into thinking you are accomplishing something worthwhile, even when you really aren't. You are procrastinating by working! It's almost contradictory, but it works! (unlike you, hahaha!). If you are feeling especially compelled to do constructive work, make excuses instead. It is a draining effort that will result in both procrastination and despondency!

Another tool in your procrastinator's toolbelt is multitasking. Vacillating between many tasks is a great way to eat up time and produce less. Research shows that it takes the human brain 20 minutes to get fully focused on a single task and to make great strides in accomplishing it. So, it's simple then: do not go more than 20 minutes focusing on a single task or objective. For example, if you are working on your RPG, write a bit more plot on your story, then expand a bit of backstory on your characters, then jump to some mapping, then work a bit on your scripts, and then come back and do some dialog. Before you know it 2 hours have gone by, and the work you did is probably shoddy and will have to be redone anyway! Which leads to perfectionism.

Being a perfectionist is an asset to the effective procrastinator - you will be skilled at figuring out a way to justify that delay in finishing. Always strive for perfection. Never settle. Things can always be improved that little bit more.

Sometimes, you will crave feedback. That's okay! This is normal. You can feed this craving with minimal effort that will contribute very little towards you accomplishing your task. Sure, it will feel like you are accomplishing something, but really, you aren't accomplishing a whole lot.

Here is a quick list of ideas you can attempt to feed the craving for feedback, without forsaking procrastination:




Dream Big
Corollary: Avoid clarity

Vague dreams are the stuff of procrastination. The bigger a dreamer you are, the most natural procrastination will feel. Trust me on this. As an added bonus, the bigger the dream is, the more intimidating it will feel, and the more intimidating it feels, the less motivation you will have on working on it. One word of warning: Dreaming big will often lead you into dreaming about all the accolades you will get when it is finally done. This is dangerous, as it might lead you to actually start work on it, and this is going to ruin your plan to procrastinate! Avoid the temptation to break down your dream into small, manageable chuncks. The more unweildly it is, the better.

A major driver of procrastination is a feeling of vagueness or confusion on what you are supposed to do and in what order and for what reason. As an aside, this is a good reason to avoid learning new skills or abilities. They will hinder your ability to procrastinate AND give you newfound confidence (the #1 killer of procrastination).

To be an effective dreamer, you must avoid clarity at all costs. Being unable to break down a dream into manageable tasks can be downright paralyzing.

The clearer you are about your future intentions, the greater influence that clarity will have on what you do in the moment. With a clear long-term vision, you are much more capable of evaluating an activity in the present and to ensure that it is consistent with what you want to accomplish. This is bad.

Do NOT, under any circumstance:
  • Decide exactly what you want.
  • Write it down.
  • Set a deadline.
  • Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
  • Organize the list into a plan.
  • Take action on your plan immediately.
  • Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.


Avoiding these steps is key to achieving a lasting procrastination.

Instead:
  • Keep all your ideas in your head.
  • Never make your deadlines publicly known (or even set them at all).
  • Do not show resolve.
  • Envision all the accolades you will reep when your big dream is realized but without actually taking steps to realize it.


Get stuck on the big picture. It is a comfortable place.



Worry About What Others Think
Corollary: Fear is your friend

Fear of failing to impress, or the fear of being evaluated, can have a chilling effect on your ability to focus on your work. What if you make something, and people think it sucks? All that effort is wasted! Nevermind that you might learn something or get better or more efficient, the fact is that right now in might be no good! Never forget that. You don't what your ability to be judged - you'd rather have your effort judged. And we all know that more time equals more effort, and the longer you procrastinate, the more time it takes, and if you never actually release anything, then hey, you must be awesome, because jeez look at all that effort/time you put into it! Plus, prolonging completion of a task or project is a good way of avoiding being harshly evaluated.

Surround yourself with talented people. Their skills and the apparent ease at which they can call upon them to accomplish amazing things will help to intimidate you into thinking that you can't produce anything of value. This hesitancy will play greatly into your goals of procrastination. But be sure you choose the right kind of talented people - the more acerbic the better. A selfish asshole is must less likely to try to pump you up or impart knowledge - both things you must avoid if you wish to procrastinate. If you are unable to find talented people who are acerbic, do your best to ignore or rebuff their attempts to help you. If all else fails, anonymously browsing sites where people submit amazing works is a suitable replacement for directly interacting with the talented few.

Be sure to constantly measure up against the very best that other people are showcasing! Take extra steps to discount the sheer amount of effort that might of gone into producing that work. Having the perception that it comes easily for them helps you procrastinate in a roundabout way. Remember: self-esteem is the enemy! Being bitter about not being able to quickly create amazing works puts you in the right mindset for procrastination.

Constantly ruminate about failures, or the potential for failure. Visualize it. Embrace it. Feel that chill? That's you procrastinating, my friend!



Feel Guilty
Corollary: Feeling shame is nearly as effective.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you have procrastinated in the past AND you have felt guilty about it. Good! Guilt is a great sapper of productivity!

You know that you shouldn't be putting something important off, and definitely for not as long as you have already. Beside, it has been so long, that when you do finally do it, they will wonder what took you so long. And what did take you so long, anyway?

Do you feel worthless yet? Excellent! Feel the worthlessness flow through you.

You suck, and you procrastinate.



Invite Interruptions
Corollary: Distractions are like interruptions-in-waiting!

Interruptions are an extremely effective way of procrastinating. If you aren't working at the task at hand, then by default you are procrastinating! It's just that easy! Interruptions can take many forms: phone calls, conversations, noise, trips to make tea. But they all have the same underlying advantage: time spent on the interruption is time not-spent on your tasks. The bad news is interruptions depend a lot on outside interference, of which you might have little control. The good news is you can set yourself up for frequent interruptions if you plan right!

TIP: A noisy or busy environment is an effective way of ensure that you get interrupted. Take advantage of microinterruptions: looking up when someone laughs loudly, being distracted as someone passes by closely, frowning as the loud vehicle drives by. Avoid tactics such as headphones to maximize the interruptabilitiness of the nearby bustle.

As an added bonus, that little jolt of guilt you get after indulging in an unnecessary interruption will help you procrastinate even more, as you fret about wasted time! Inviting interruptions to temporarily escape the guilt of not-accomplishing anything will generate a feedback loop which will further boost your procrastination efforts.

If you are struggling with ideas on how to get more interruptions in your life, try some of these:
  • Have a video playing in the background (Youtube, TV, Twitch, etc...). Don't mute it.
  • Participate in an online chat at the same time as you want to accomplish something (such as IRC, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, etc...). If the chat appears dead, fix that by mentioning a contentious issue (for example, bad mouthing Final Fantasy VI in RMN's IRC is a sure-fire way to get the chat going)
  • Have children (the younger the more potential for interruption!). This usually implies a significant other, another great source for interruptions.
  • Leave your smartphone nearby. A near constant stream of emails, texts, tweets, instagrams, sport updates are sure to come to those who wait!
  • Eat food while you work. If it requires two hands to eat, it is more effective, but failing that opt for greasy or messy foods that will require you to take time to wipe your hands or face before continuing on your work.



And there you have it! Your go-to guide for procrastination. Take the time to read it again, to really let it sink in (and hey, re-reading this is procrastinating! You're doing it! Yay!)

Posts

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NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6064
Brilliant advice! Thank you for taking the time to write this fantastic piece. It greatly motivated me to write this response instead of doing actual work.
Any plans for a second part? Might be a good thing to spend some time on.
unity
You're magical to me.
11174
Hmm, procrastination, eh? Maybe I should look into this...
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10503
author=kentona
  • Post in the What are you thinking about? (game development edition) or Whatchu Workin' On? Tell us!
  • Chat about your ideas in the RMN IRC channel
  • Post a screenshot in the Screenshot Survival 20XX
  • Make a new topic in the Game Design & Development forum about some design aspect relating to your game
  • Make a gameprofile, or, if you have one already, post a blog on it about your "progress" to date

TFW you do all these things T_T

But really though, I was going to write an article like this. Lucky I realized I was just procrastinating. Thanks for doing it for me!

Edit: I forgot to say that, like all great satire, this is more effective than a straight article at pointing out idiosyncrasies. Good job for pointing out why I feel terrible! Now I'm going to do something, making me feel less terrible.
unity
You're magical to me.
11174
author=CashmereCat
author=kentona
  • Post in the What are you thinking about? (game development edition) or Whatchu Workin' On? Tell us!
  • Chat about your ideas in the RMN IRC channel
  • Post a screenshot in the Screenshot Survival 20XX
  • Make a new topic in the Game Design & Development forum about some design aspect relating to your game
  • Make a gameprofile, or, if you have one already, post a blog on it about your "progress" to date
TFW you do all these things T_T

All of these things are potentially good things. I can't tell you how much help I've gotten from posting ideas and getting feedback on them, and having a Gamepage or otherwise letting people know what you're up to can be a really big motivational boost. The problem comes when you're spending more time on this stuff than is being spent on actually making the game! XD

author=CashmereCat
Edit:I forgot to say that, like all great satire, this is more effective than a straight article at pointing out idiosyncrasies. Good job for pointing out why I feel terrible! Now I'm going to do something, making me feel less terrible.

Exactly. This is a great article, for both providing laughs and helping facilitate understanding of why these things happen.
Marrend
Guardian Gorgon of the Description Thread
18308
I would tend to argue that the act of writing stuff down for a project sometimes tricks me into thinking that I'm doing something for said project. I guess it ties into the whole "illusion of progress" thing!
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7488
Holy crap this article is amazing. I was doing so many things I shouldn't have without realizing it. Thanks for this!
unity
You're magical to me.
11174
And so, RMN's forums become totally silent as everyone actually works on their games and don't wast time posting anymore XD
author=Red_Nova
Holy crap this article is amazing. I was doing so many things I shouldn't have without realizing it. Thanks for this!

I am glad that I am helping you all become better procrastinators.

author=CashmereCat
author=kentona
  • Post in the What are you thinking about? (game development edition) or Whatchu Workin' On? Tell us!
  • Chat about your ideas in the RMN IRC channel

  • Post a screenshot in the Screenshot Survival 20XX

  • Make a new topic in the Game Design & Development forum about some design aspect relating to your game

  • Make a gameprofile, or, if you have one already, post a blog on it about your "progress" to date


TFW you do all these things T_T

Well, of course! I am an expert in procrastination, afterall.

author=unity
author=CashmereCat
Edit:I forgot to say that, like all great satire, this is more effective than a straight article at pointing out idiosyncrasies. Good job for pointing out why I feel terrible! Now I'm going to do something, making me feel less terrible.


Exactly. This is a great article, for both providing laughs and helping facilitate understanding of why these things happen.

Ironically enough, I had started out writing a legit article on overcoming procrastination, and then thought about it, realized that I am actually really shitty at overcoming procrastination, and then instead wrote this tutorial on HOW TO procrastinate! They say to "write what you know", don't you know.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10503
author=kentona
Well, of course! I am an expert in procrastination, afterall.


Oh. I meant "TFW one does all these things T_T".

author=kentona
Ironically enough, I had started out writing a legit article on overcoming procrastination, and then thought about it, realized that I am actually really shitty at overcoming procrastination, and then instead wrote this tutorial on HOW TO procrastinate! They say to "write what you know", don't you know.


I feel like you've completed an epic RPG and several other games, but real life obligations hamper your work flow, which is understandable and totally does not make you the king of procrastination. The king of procrastination is the dude who has no job, no kids, no obligation and still manages to frequently piss off others by not fronting up to actually creating stuff for them - *coughs*.

But I'm going into exile like Aragorn and I'm going to come back a badass warrior and command some ghosts of determination against the horde of the pesky Orcs of Laziness to defeat the Big Flaming Eye of Procrastination once and for all. Throwing the "one ring to distract them all" into the fires of Mount ROOM (for improvement), and seize the light of pure game mak back from the clutches of... not-making-anything-ness.
You're spot-on and reading this is both funny and not funny: Procrastination really is a horrible poison in anyone's existence and understanding why we do it is an important step in overcoming it.

What worked for me years ago is to force myself to do what I didn't feel like doing, right away. Willpower, plain and simple.
It also helps to try and enjoy the task, lower your expectations, accept that sometimes your results are mediocre, put an end to self-deprecation and self-induced shame, be more optimistic in general, divide the task into a series of small steps...
author=CashmereCat
author=kentona
Well, of course! I am an expert in procrastination, afterall.
Oh. I meant "TFW one does all these things T_T".

I don't know what TFW means...


CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10503
author=kentona
I don't know what TFW means...


It's memespeak for That Face When.

(I am ashamed to admit grasp of this dialect.)
I don't speak tumblr, sorry.
I don't feel guilty when I procrastinate, and I don't care about what others think of my work... is this a new level of procrastination, or I just failed your steps? :)
You have achieved zen levels of procrastination. Congratulations.
Sated
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
4020
This is a great article.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6528
author=kentona
I don't speak tumblr, sorry.

Tumbrl is a great way to procrastinate. These people post tons of interesting pictures every minute.

I think I'm (or was) somehow beyond procrastination. I'm often too lazy to post anything (I'm able to empty two cans of tea in the process) or to play computer games, youtube videos are too long and I'm skipping most of them. Sometimes I realize that the only thing accomplished in last twenty minutes was to open a browser, to close the browser and then watching my background picture (which is superbly cool right now, choosing it took me some hours).
Bonus:

10 Phrases of Highly Ineffective People

10. That won't work.
Shutting down ideas without trying them is definitely the mark of an ineffective person.

9. I can't do it.
Shutting down yourself before trying something is also a mark of an ineffective person.

8. Impossible
Close your mind to how it might be possible. Refuse to look at the problem from different angles. Nothing amazing was ever created.

7. That's not fair.
Unleash your inner four-year-old! Real life isn't fair, and now it's time to be a victim!

6. It's not my fault.
Instead of focusing on solving the problem, shift the blame.

5. I might be able to...
Might is another one of those words that set you up to fail. Hedge your bets. Avoid saying what you mean.

4. That's not my job.
If blame shifting isn't sufficient, task shifting might work. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of, and stay in your comfort zone.

3. Need
Need is a funny word. You need food, water, and shelter. You might think you don't need that time off, or extra cup of coffee, or last donut - you might think that these are simply "wants". Don't lie. You need them.

2. I think...
I think can be wishy-washy. Leaders and other successful people are decisive. Go with what you know. Embrace your wishy-washy-ness.

1. I'll try.
Yoda was wrong: To do, or do not, you have to try first. You can't just skip to the results.
unity
You're magical to me.
11174
:D Very nice XD
You lie! A veteran procrastinator would never finish writing a article this long!
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