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

  • kentona
  • 05/21/2015 09:48 PM
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.

  • 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!)


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I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
You lie! A veteran procrastinator would never finish writing a article this long!

Does the fact that this has been sitting on my plate since February 2014 help my case at all?
I'm really grateful for this guide - thanks to you, my makerscore is still as low as it is right now.
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