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Amy Gray
Professional Organizer and Feng Shui Consultant
Seattle, Washington
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Let's talk about procrastination, later..

Helpful tips from a procrastinator on getting stuff done.
Written Jan 20, 2009, read 2326 times since then.
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Here’s what I did instead of writing this article:

  • Tracked down a friend who moved out of town
  • Looked at his company’s website
  • Researched places to watch Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday
  • Went out to dinner for pho with my son
  • Went back on the internet to research procrastination
  • Cleared out the dishwasher
  • Showed my new business photos to my daughter.  (All were unacceptable).

Now here I sit, armed with information about procrastination, looking for something to do besides write this article. (I also found out that procrastinators actively look for distractions.  Checking email frequently is perfect for this). 

I found out that there are three basic types of procrastinators:

  • Thrill seekers, who love the last minute rush. (My guess that these folks also have a touch of ADD),
  • Avoiders, who may have fear of failure or fear of success but who, in my experience, have a distinct streak of perfectionism running through their personalities,
  • And folks with chronic and severe indecision, which can absolve them of responsibility in the outcome of events.  (Psychology Today, August 2003)

Then I read a fascinating article about a procrastination study.  Students were given a task and a description of that task.  Description A was idea-based, values and benefit oriented.  Description B was who, what, where and when with defined action steps.

Results? The authors note that "merely thinking about the task in more concrete, specific terms makes it feel like it should be completed sooner and thus reducing procrastination." (ScienceDaily, Jan. 12, 2009)

 

Now, there’s a great clue about getting things done.

Which leads me to the very helpful part of this article:

Procrastination Tips from a Procrastinator

  • Change your mind about the task.  You don’t have to do it.  Doing that task is your choice.  Obviously there are consequences for not doing it.  But ultimately you still have a choice.   
  • Break large tasks into small, concrete action steps.  Instead of “get rid of clutter in house,” try “clear out junk drawer in kitchen.” 
  • Assign those small tasks a time frame – no longer than 1 hour. 
  • Set a timer. 
  • Arrange for a reward at the end of that time frame, i.e. get a cup of tea, take a walk, read a chapter in a book, call a friend to complain about the task. 
  • Continue on with the second small step of your project, if time permits.  If not, schedule that second small step in your calendar.

Just for fun, or to waste time, I found a cute little survey to take.  My score indicated procrastination tendencies with some productivity intact. 

I leave you with this quote which may or may not clarify the situation:

"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." (Thomas De Quincey, 1827)

                                             

Learn more about the author, Amy Gray.

Comment on this article

  • Ghost Writer/Blogger 
Los Angeles, California 
Terra  Paley
    Posted by Terra Paley, Los Angeles, California | Jul 04, 2009

    Very funny.