(Guest Post) The Procrastinator’s Credo

by Susan Pogorzelski on April 19, 2011 · 5 comments

This is a lesson in procrastination…
– Brand New, “Failure By Design”

This post is about two months late.

Of course, you’d have no idea if I hadn’t started off telling you that it’s that late, but I believe that honesty is an important part of any relationship.

Also, I couldn’t think of another opener.

The reason, I suppose, for why this post is two months late is sheer laziness. Sure, I’m busy with work, side projects, socializing, hobbies and sleep, but that doesn’t really excuse anyone when they agree to do something for someone else. The ugly, puce-shaded monster known as Procrastination, which runs rampant through our minds, is the only culprit.

I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to keep myself focused so I can increase my personal efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve read books, taken seminars, bought planners, created personal rules, and at one point, was strongly considering hypnotism. Yet it only amounted to a whole pile of temporary fixes, like a band-aid over a gaping wound. I always returned to my procrastinatory ways, which led me to one simple and honest revelation:

Procrastination and laziness are natural and inherent traits.

This isn’t an argument of nature versus nurture. There’s no grand battle between the rational and irrational parts of one’s mind. It’s simply a thing that people do, like breathing or sleeping or eating stinky cheeses. We procrastinate because our bodies and minds crave outside stimulation or relaxation. We put things off so we have the social benefit of an out for a conversation (“I have something I need to work on”) or seeming like we’re busy (“Well, I’ve got several things in the pipeline right now”). It feels good to procrastinate, no matter how much we might hate ourselves when it’s all said and done.

Procrastination is the reason that websites containing pictures of cats with goofy captions can make millions of dollars every year through advertising revenue. Procrastination is why we love Angry Birds. Procrastination is the reason that we have escapist art forms, like literature, film, music and video games (yes, I consider video games an art – don’t judge). Without procrastination, our lives would be duller and far less enjoyable.

Maybe it’s not so bad that this post is two months late. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the hows and whys of the whole experience, and maybe that can help me to better understand how to control my wandering brain. So really, procrastinating on this could have saved me from a far worse fate, where I could have wound up putting off things with hard deadlines that could have a tremendous negative impact on my life.

Oh crap, I need to go finish my taxes.

About the Author: Andrew Weitsman is a marketer, blogger, entrepreneur and sorta-New York Times Bestselling Author (it’s complicated).  He blogs several times per week at Needle, Meet Haystack and can be found on Twitter at @aweitsman.  And seriously, he has to go finish his taxes. 

 

Andrew is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere here on twenty(or)something while this blog takes a brief hiatus. Email me at twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Pogorzelski April 19, 2011

This post is perfect for me as a writer because I’m admittedly the absolute worst when it comes to procrastination. It’s hard enough to find motivation sometimes to just buckle down and write — even something as seemingly simple as a blog post, nevermind the novel — so I’m already in a good place for procrastination to take over. But then you add social media into the mix, and suddenly that hour you set aside for your projects suddenly becomes “Oh, I wonder what so and so is up to on Facebook” and “Oh, look, more people talking on Twitter.”

On the plus side, as you mention, it gives you room to reflect, let’s those ideas marinate a bit. Maybe that’s the balance to find — if you’re too close to something, you don’t have time to think about it, apprecaite it, figure it out from all angles. However, putting something off for too long can be detrimental not only to deadlines, but if there’s a project you’re passionate about, you can lose that fire.

So…I definitely get this. Also, I’m a Libra. I’m using that as my excuse for laziness =P

Thanks for guest posting, Andrew! Great to have you here!
Procrastination itself can be addictive.

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Tatiana April 19, 2011

Procrastination is an interesting topic because it can also be attributed to fear. Fear of success, of starting something new, or of failure. And to me, the psychological component is really strong because actually acting on something I’ve been thinking about doing takes a lot. I have to really force myself to do stuff, even if it’s something I really like because procrastination is such a death sentence for me.

So in that sense, I would have to disagree about procrastination being a gestination period of sorts. I find that when I actually get up and DO whatever it is I’ve been planning, I feel infinitely better. But I have to keep remembering to tackle my fear(s) or else I’ll get stuck doing nothing. And that’s much worse.

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Andrew April 23, 2011

I didn’t mean to put off commenting on this post, but it just sort of happened. It really had nothing to do with the subject matter. Or at least that’s my excuse.

Thanks for inviting me to post, Susan! I agree that computers and the World-Wide Web offer a procrastinator’s dream in terms of distractions and delays, and passion usually trumps the put off-ishness that affects so many. And a zodiac sign seems to be as good an excuse as any 🙂

I guess it could be different for different people, Tatiana. The old, “You need a few moments away from this” phrase is an invitation to procrastinate, and the story of Archimedes (the one where he shouts “Eureka!”) practically extols the values of non-focus. While there are times that I put things off because I’ve reached a stopping point and forget to pick them up again, there are other times when I put things off because I don’t want them to be finished (think about a person staying in a relationship despite the intention to break up). It might depend on the person, the project and the situation.

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