If procrastination were an Olympic event in some weird bizarro version of our reality, I’m not saying I would be a shoe-in for the gold, but I would at least qualify to compete and MAYBE wind up on the podium. That isn’t bragging, that’s fact: I’m a procrastinator through and through, and my technique has been honed and nigh perfected through years of practice. Much of the difficulty I had in school was because I didn’t bother doing what I HAD to do until after I’d done everything I WANTED to do. I’m the kind of guy who puts off doing dishes for weeks because every time I think about doing them, I end up watching 1 1/2 seasons of How I Met Your Mother instead.
For the record, I don’t encourage or endorse procrastination, as it makes life harder in the long run. It becomes a habit that’s very hard to break and affects your work ethic long-term. So I’m not in favour of procrastination in general. Just don’t tell my parents I said that or they might start to think I’m a responsible adult or something.
So if you’re one of the many people who can’t help but put stuff off, how do you make sure the important stuff gets done anyway?
Something that I’ve found helps is having more than one important project going at a time. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but bear with me. I swear I’m totally, completely, not actually all that qualified to give advice about this kind of thing.
Say, for the sake of argument, you have three things you need to do: a writing project, a music project, and a reading assignment. They can be for work, school, or just for yourself, it doesn’t matter. The point is, you have to get them done despite being a procrastinating slackerpants. How do you trick your brain into doing what it’s supposed to?
So you start working on one of your projects… let’s say the writing one. You work on it for a while, make some good progress, but soon your mind starts to wander. You grow bored of the writing project and start thinking of other things to do. You could lose a few hours to Netflix, or fire up your Xbox and play Skyrim until your thumbs are bleeding. Most likely you’ll just end up checking Facebook every two or three minutes.
But instead of doing any of that, try turning your attention to one of your other projects. By doing so, you’re satisfying your procrastination instinct by ignoring the writing project, and at the same time you can continue being productive. A big part of putting things off is that the mind tends to wander, and while it’s hard to keep from doing so, it’s much easier to give it a nudge so it wanders in a more responsible direction.
Maybe this technique isn’t for everybody, but if you’re having trouble with procrastination I recommend giving it a try. At the very least, having more than one project on the go that you enjoy can make your life more fulfilling. Plus, if you finish everything in a timely manner, you’ll still have time to waste after you’re done.
By the by, putting off important projects to write a blog about procrastination cancels out, right?