My Type 2 Procrastination

My Type 2 Procrastination

SUMMARY: I’ve been feeling restless about my progress, and have again been wondering why I haven’t been as motivated to work despite having all this inspiration surrounding me constantly. It comes from my excellent group of peers both online and offline. And perhaps that is the problem. This is my first attempt to put it into words.As a fat aging American, I’m familiar with the looming spectre of Type 2 Diabetes, which when untreated threatens blindness and amputation. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the body does not manufacture insulin, a chemical that the body uses to process food into usable energy after every meal. In type 2 diabetes, the body manufactures insulin but also resists it. One of the contributing factors to the onset of type 2 diabetes is poor diet and exercise habits, two areas in which I have considerable expertise. I’ve been feeling rather sluggish lately, and have started the exercise habit again to try to shake myself out of the doldrums. It occurred to me that the ramifications of my physical sluggishness were similar to my mental sluggishness that has manifested as a form of procrastination. As someone with perfectionist tendencies and high aspirations, I am probably a ripe candidate for Type 2 Procrastination, a horrifying conditions in which inspiration does not lead to action. Your mind may be inspired, but you fail to act. I think it’s safe to say that Type 1 Procrastination is a result of people lacking inspiration in the first place, and there’s little to do except administer swift kicks in the ass at periodic intervals to keep things moving. What’s sad about Type 2 Procrastination is that, like in Type 2 Diabetes, it’s the practice of good habits that helps avoid the onset of laziness and broken dreams.

Treating the Symptoms

So how does one retrain the mind to convert inspiration into action? What is the cure for procrastination? I can think of a few that have worked for me:

  • Diagnose that there IS a problem, and recognize that you are not alone.
  • Find a local peer group of people who are inspired the way you are

My experience with successful diagnosis occurred over two phases. The first phase was being allowed into the 9rules Network, which I applied to because I learned that there were other people who liked writing and creating good content. I didn’t even know that this was important to me, until I realized that I didn’t have to slough through it by myself. The second phase was being introduced to South by Southwest Interactive through the 9rules members, who were totally way more connected to things like this than I. The first time I went, in 2006 I believe, I came into a group of people who were very much like me in significant, unguessed-at ways. I felt as if I’d come home, and this inspired me to try to recreate something like this when I got home.

And that brings me to the second part of the cure: finding the local peer group. It took about four years to do this, finding the intersection of four distinct groups of people I slowly got to know. Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I used two simple metrics: noticing what energized me and avoiding what drained me, and being proactive about gathering people who seemed to have the same energy as I. By “energy”, I mean a qualitative sense of shared possibility and interest.

I have been feeling rather pleased with myself the past few months because I have the ingredients and insights that should, theoretically, be the foundation of a satisfying life: group energy and peer support. However, what has been missing is the sense of progress. After thinking about this for a few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a third element to the cure that I’m missing. I’m probably stretching the diabetes analogy a little far, but if group energy and peer support are “diet”, I must be missing the equivalent to exercise. That is: action. I had previously thought that inspiration results in action, but maybe it’s less linear than I think and more circular. In the case of diabetes, you should exercise more to help avoid its onset. But for that, you need energy. And to have energy, you need insulin to convert food into usable energy from glucose. And energy is what you need to exercise in the first place. It’s a kind of circular dependency. Now consider procrastination. For me not to procrastinate, I need to take action. But to take action, I need inspiration/motivation. And where do I get that from? What is the “insulin” that converts inspiration/motivation into action? And here the analogy crumbles, but the idea that action begets inspiration and inspiration begets action is very appealing. But I’m missing some kind of activating agent to kick off the entire cycle.

Diagnosing the Root Cause

I’ve been so happy at having found a local group of people that I’ve found myself spending more time doing social things than working. It’s part of my being part of things greater than myself drive, which has yielded quite a few insights over the past month. My direction is clarifying with every passing day, and the possibilities are starting to stack up. While this has generated a sense of optimism, I’ve also been feeling unrest because I know that I have to do the work. And frankly, I haven’t really wanted to. The feeling of inspiration and being part of other people’s projects is enjoyable, and I keep thinking that I’ll find the magic combination of social engagement and inspiration to generate that sure-fire “thing I must do” action plan. But you know what? I think I’ve fallen into a trap. Social engagement generates good feelings and inspiration. You’d think that then inspiration would beget action, as I had hoped, but I had forgotten an important lesson about electricity: electricity always takes the path of least resistance. In this case, the path of least resistance is not through action–that’s work. Instead, the path routes right back into itself and generates more social engagement. And THAT is where I have been feeling discomfited.

In other words, I’m short-circuiting myself by mistaking the inspiration and energy I get from my creative peer groups as sufficient for creating action. Action is a deliberate break from social engagement of the type that makes me feel that I’m in good company. At some point, you need to build. And that’s something you need to do yourself if you are doing your own thing.

In the course of my wandering I’ve developed a few skills and even a few product ideas, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of exploring and have tended to think in terms of search rather than build when it comes to my own interests. In search mode, I’m looking for people and good ideas that I can draw strength from, exchanging what I know as completely as possible. This is itself a nomadic mindset. Build mode, however, is when you hunker down and write that book. Or build that city. Or paint that masterpiece. Or design that race car. You get the idea.

Resetting the Cycle

Summing up what I’ve discussed so far, here are the stages of my Type 2 Procrastination treatment plan:

  • I found people that were like me in some way.
  • I found ways to express myself with those people.
  • I refined my understanding of what I was doing.
  • I picked the new understanding over the old.
  • Repeat
  • Realize you are in a loop
  • Break away, and ether build or find what is yours.

It’s all very productive, growth-oriented behavior. What confuses the issue is the human need for fellowship that feeds the sense of security and self-esteem. For most of us, it’s stronger than the need to create and build, and we give themselves in to it, because we die if we don’t have it. This tendency to want to hold on to it can drive the the potential to build or the search for understanding away, or at least bury it to the point where it manifests as the that feeling that I’m not being all I can be. And that’s one of the feelings that leads to the feeling that you are procrastinating in the first place.

If it sounds like I’m saying that you need to go through a mid-life crisis, maybe I am. However, you don’t have to be a hermit or throw away your previous life. You can draw upon the friends you’ve found in your journeys; they like you even when they don’t quite understand you, and will continue to like you if you continue to treat them right. You can also be mindful of how you are participating in your peer group by asking yourself whether what you do is for human need, search need, or build need. In other words, are you participating in your peer group because you just like having people to talk to, or are you learning/growing? This may be enough, if this is what you want and you are content. But if you are not content, then you need to ask what you are doing within the group to create what is yours and yours alone. After that is done, I’m thinking you have the luxury to not only doing with it what you want, but you also can pick any path you want in your life with greater surety. There really is no choice but to take the medicine if you want to get better; in this case, to be able to have the choice to make the choice in the first place.

So that is where I am. I’ve built a base of peers that I’m so happy to be a part of, and I’ve basked in that feeling for perhaps a little too long; I’d say it’s been about three years of this. I think it’s time to build what is mine to build. I know I have said this in the past, but I didn’t realize before how much of a balance it would be between my community of peers and being a hermit working in my basement. I don’t think I’m saying anything new, but as someone who’s just discovered that there is a community that I can be part of, it’s harsh medicine to realize that to continue to grow I need to leave the comfort of the group for periods of time.

30 Comments

  1. Jerrit Parker Pruyn 10 years ago

    This is greatness. I have been doing this over the past couple of weeks with photography. Having a group of people to keep us / me on track with the same goals.

  2. Aamir 10 years ago

    Hey,

    Great post. I find myself in the same situation as you described about being in a group hoping to get some motivation and then realizing that its not their anymore, so you end up hanging out with friends a lot and working less. 
    The medicine is quite hard I agree because I am having a lot of trouble with it; trouble with just doing things.  Maybe there isn’t an answer out there for everyone and that one needs to find their own method.  But I really need to find a cure for me.  I was hoping you’d post up a definite way of getting yourself to work, but thats just my lazy side talking.  It seems that whereever I look there is no definite answer except “just do it” or something like that.
    I guess I am just rambling.

  3. Aamir 10 years ago

    Also, do you feel sleepy at times during the day, especially when you are about to work?

  4. Derek Martin 10 years ago

    I’m a freelancer, and I encounter many of these very same issues. That being said, I’ve been reading a book lately, and it has helped me immensely. Oddly, it was published almost 100 years ago.

    “Your Will Power” (subtitle: how to develop and strengthen will power, memory, or any other faculty or attribute of the mind by an easy process) by Charles Godfrey Leland

    You really can apply it to anything, including motivation, inspiration, fatigue, creativity, etc.

    Except for some of the vocabulary, it could have been written last year. I picked up my 109 page 1918 edition on Amazon for $14. If you do pick up a copy, I’d be interested to know what you think of it :)

  5. Lur 10 years ago

    What if you are without peers, unable to connect with anyone?

    I cant really talk to people, I have friends yes but I just cant talk to them about things that matter to me or my ideas. I have tried but they just look at me like I’m rambling. I have tried to get on forums but I just lose interest sooner or later.

    I’d say I’m socially inept, without motivation and growing board with my life…

  6. Tomas Forsman 10 years ago

    I must say that the symptoms of what you call type 2 procrastination sounds a lot like ADD/ADHD to me. I got that and have used the same methods as you describe to get to where I am today and lately I’ve started on adhd meds + ginseng and Omega 3 and must say that it helps a ton. Also the diagnosis made me aware of where my ‘problems’ were coming from and also what positive effects it had. It took away a great deal of shame about being really bad at getting certain things done.

    Nice post though, probably a lot easier for many to relate to then a diagnosis.

  7. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Jerrit: Excellent. So long as you’re shooting as well as gabbing, and getting your work shown outside of the group, you’re golden!

    Aamir: Yah, the “just do it” answer is the most aggravating of all. I used to rail against it. If you’re NOT doing it, maybe you never really wanted to in the first place, and your laziness is your mind telling you that you’re not that into it. That’s fine. However, any sense of entitlement you may have about having potential, being smart, being capable of MORE pretty much is negated. If you don’t do, you don’t make. And if you don’t make, you are a drone. That’s the way I have framed it for myself.

    Another demotivator is fear of not knowing how. That’s something easy to get around…find someone to show you how. At any level. Swallow your pride, and remember what it’s like to be as a child and make a huge mess unapologetically. Give yourself permission to suck. Everyone sucks at first.

    The big demotivator for me is I hate going into the box to work. That’s when I get sleepy, as you were asking. My body literally tries to shut down so I don’t isolate myself from the world. The trick for me is to actually sit for a bit and identify every negative thought and dismiss it until there’s nothing left but me and the work. At that point, the only thing in front of me is the problem. I also to realize that being in the work box will only be for an hour or so. My friend Elise also gives herself permission, when she has to practice her instrument, to stop practicing if after 10 minutes nothing is clicking. That seems to help.

  8. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Derek: That sounds like a fascinating book, especially given it’s 100 years old. I’ve been on a “wisdom of generations past” kick lately. I checked the Gutenberg Project to see if this book was available, and it is downloadable as it is not copyrighted in the US.

  9. Derek Martin 10 years ago

    Excellent. I’m glad it’s available freely :)

  10. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Lur: I think I know how you feel. There’s all kinds of things I’m interested in that my friends think are weird, and they give me that look. However, eventually you do find people who “get” what you’re talking about. Informally, I’ve guesstimated the percentage is something like 1%-2% response rate. The trick is to be able to broadcast those unique areas of interest in a way that other people can find YOU. Asking directly is one way, but if you’re interested in something unusual you need to find some way of flying the colors. For me, I stumbled upon the way to do this through blogging, writing about stuff that I never really expected other people to find interesting. Except a few people did, and this helped to build a cycle of growth and increased socialization.

    Another thing that you may try is forming your own group of peers. If you have some means of advertising your interests in some public forum that’s related to what you’re doing, you might find 1 or 2 people who are interested. You really just need 2 people to form a good triad. Local is good too. The group might not last forever, but it may be enough to give you some motivation. For example, I once put out a call for a “super geeky fun club”, and I got a lot of “you have three heads” looks from people, but I did find some people who found the idea interesting. And these people are now a known resource for me. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, of course, for this to work, and recognize that because you are the person making the call, that puts you in charge unless you choose to abdicate.

    One way you might be able to bring your peers onboard is to just ask them to help you figure out how to do what you want. Even if they don’t know or don’t understand, your true friends will try. “I’m trying to do something, and it’s kind of unusual and I don’t know exactly where to start. Dude, do you have some time to hear me out and give me your two cents?” There’s a danger that people will dump on your idea, but remember: you’re not alone in being in this position.

    I hope that is encouraging…it took me many years to figure out that I had the ability to just ASK people if they were interested, and choose to pick myself as the standard for determining what was interesting and what was not.

  11. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Tomas: The ADD/ADHD connection is very interesting, thanks for calling that out! I would hesitate to diagnose myself as ADD/ADHD. I suppose a lot of us have mild cases of being easily distracted, and there is SO MUCH MEDIA out there to distract us at the push of a button. I think in my case, I can focus when I want to, and this is different (I think) than having the condition where my brain is unable to hold focus even when I want to. My form of procrastination is more of a case of finding inspiration and then having the discipline to eschew the pleasure of the human company that comes with a group of like-minded peers so I actually get the work done. The distraction for me is the desire to pursue pleasure at the expense of being shut-in working on the dream, not the inability to focus.

    That said, I think a lot of the methods that help people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD can help people like me, and I’m really glad that you brought it up. I’ll have to look into it.

  12. Colin 10 years ago

    Here’s a suggestion to help with the motivation to actually do the work:  make it a requirement of membership in your social circle. 

    Propose a regular series of meetups where people show each other what they’ve been working on.  It doesn’t have to be formal, provided that it’s held regularly, and people can choose to present or not at any given event.  But I think that you’ll find that you can’t be inactive for too long in such a setup without your social status taking a hit, and that’s the most effective kick in the ass I can think of.

  13. Tomas Forsman 10 years ago

    Dave: Check out http://www.livingwithadd.com/index.html

    ADD is not a very scary diagnosis to have. In fact I think that there are a great many people who live with adult ADD/ADHD and aren’t remotely aware of it. My personal two questions to ask if someone seems to have ADD are:
    1) Do you have major problems with tasks like getting the bills payed, not because you aren’t able but because you just can’t seem to get it done.
    2) Do your keys, wallet, mobile phone end up in different locations around your home when you enter?

    Another interesting clue is when someone responds with: Nah, my mom (or dad or brother/sister) is the same way.

    ADD/ADHD is extremely inherited. You mostly find one or more family members with the same traits, sometimes worse.

    Not trying to convince you that you got ADD now ;) just something that might be interesting and helpful =)

    Many diagnosis are just personal traits that reach a certain degree. Someone is ‘just’ easily irritated but at a certain degree that becomes anger management issues. ADD works the same way. You don’t have to be the guy who can’t finnish a sentence if a butterfly flies by the window to have the diagnosis and be able to benfit from meds or other treatments.

    What you write here is basicly a very well written guide for people with ADD/ADHD with or without meds =) Perhaps give ginseng and omega 3 a shot and see if it works…for me it works wonders when it comes to being able to work through something that’s not very interesting. =)

    Again, very nice text. Glad to have read it.

  14. Amanda Pingel 10 years ago

    I think it’s very insightful; I like the analogy to diabetes.  I’ve been feeling something of the same thing; I have goals and a vision and all that stuff that’s supposed to inspire me… why don’t I work?

    I’ve been forcing myself to work, though, and I find that that helps me, in turn, work the next day.  I look back over the week and list the things I’ve done, and it makes me feel more like working tomorrow.

    If it’s like exercise, then the theory should be the same, right? Start off with 10 minutes per day, then 20, then 30, then 60… until you’re addicted and can’t NOT do it.

  15. Avrum 10 years ago

    Some quick, random points:

    * as a therapist – with a psychiatrist wife – it’s interesting how DSM-speak helps people feel understood, while reducing anxiety (of course, many others find fault with the above – both as a science as well as efficacy)

    * David – your observation to find: “… people that were like me” is so spot-on. I’m at my worst – as a therapist or musician – when I don’t have peers/friends to cheer, challenge and collaborate with me.

    David, when are you going to turn all of your insights into a book?

  16. Rax 10 years ago

    Hi Dave

    The moment I read this article, it was like I was reading an exact diagnosis for my own condition!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences. As someone who is also diabetic, it really helps me to compare my procrastination to the mis-management of blood glucose in the body.

    The phrase which best describes my situation is “inspiration does not lead to action” – and I have to admit that I felt a sense of relief reading those words in your post as it meant that I was not alone in feeling this way.

    You’ve really made me think today – and have motivated me to get out of the slump that I’ve found myself in. Your advice to the other comments has also been very helpful to me, so thank you once again!

  17. J. Grimaldi 10 years ago

    It’s surprising how much this writer’s mind works like mine. 

    I too love the “search” mode.  Recognizing the distinction between search mode and build mode is itself useful.  Can we use our love of search to place us into build mode?  Might we intensify the search until it becomes nearly indistinguishable from the build mode?  Recent efforts at a difficult wood-working project have helped me to see that building something novel (or building in quantity) involves a constant refinement of ideas and techniques.  By intensifying the thought which goes into a build, can the building task become subsumed by the more engaging process of search? 

    Sorry if this sounds too esoteric.  I recently listened to an audiobook called “The Nature of Technology,” by B. Brian Arthur.  Good book.  The writer discusses how technology results from constant refinement of ideas, upon engagement with the physical constraints of nature.  The build and the search can be one, maybe, almost.

  18. Christopher 10 years ago

    > in which inspiration does not lead to action.

    Dave why do you instist that every single idea goes to the full end to product?  How many prototypes where ditched by Apple to say, ok, the product is that phone, screw the rest?

  19. David C 10 years ago

    Hey David,

    Thanks for the post, I think a lot of programmers, creatives, and builders or all kinds go though some version of this.

    I have gone through the phases you have described but gave up on the “gathering people who seemed to have the same energy as I” part. Not permanently but temporarily and that is because finding those people can take a lot of time and energy.

    I am currently at the build stage of a large project that I am very proud of and as soon as I am done, I will begin promoting it.

    This promotion phase of my project will allow me to find people like me by going to SBSW and other similar gatherings for people in the same interest groups. This way i will be able to find interesting people without taking a productivity hit on my project.

    I hope it all works out, It would be nice to have a group of people that can relate to my every day drama, and more importantly that they have the same”qualitative sense of shared possibility and interest”

  20. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Colin: That’s an interesting idea to have a group where completing/working for something is a prerequisite for joining. I’ve made “active practitioners” an informal condition for the groups I’ve formed, or rather I’ve tended to select people who are ALREADY doing and working toward their goals. However, I’ve not wanted to impose control over their activities or imply that there’s a way to do it. Perhaps, though, a boot-camp approach or NaNoWriMo style competition would be good. Limited duration. Or maybe like a “Savings Club”, which has a limited duration AND a reward. I just like seeing people MAKE stuff, so I’ll have to think about this more. It might work well with the “Tech Jam” I was thinking of running.

    Tomas: Thanks for the information! A lot of what was said on that site was very familiar-sounding :-) I also read-up on it on Wikipedia, which was light on the “treatment” part of things. I think with the approach I’m outlining, I’m not seeing this as a “deficit” as compared to the general population, more like a specialization that needs retooling in certain situations.

    Amanda: That’s great that you’re doing that. Feedback helps IMMENSELY. Personally, I find it’s a chore to do the feedback all by myself, so I’ve been trying to figure out a way around it. The various PCEO forms, perhaps, are first stage tools to development internal mindfulness that becomes automatic self-feedback. Hmmm! On a side note, I’m always amazed when anyone gets ANYTHING done without being coerced. The easier choice is not to do anything.

    Avrum: I had to look up DSM after coming across the terms in the Wikipedia article. I think people who find themselves lost in any way are comforted by labels, that implies that someone else might have figured out what to do with it, and/or it’s something from which strength can be drawn. I think it gets iffy when the label is seen as a final diagnosis, so I find them more useful as starting points for search. I guess that’s why I was surprised to find myself in a loop…at some point, the search for the labels has to convert to the CREATION of your OWN label. It’s an exciting transition point! And thanks for the +1 on making a book someday :-)

    Rax: Awesome! Best of luck!

    J. Grimaldi: Your story reminds me of a recent experience I had trying to teach someone how to build an advanced software architecture from scratch. I think he had the idea that it was much grander and much more shaped by existing patterns than it actually is. To some extent, he was right: there are astonishingly intricate cathedrals of code that are that way. But for HIM to get there, he had to start by understanding structural basics. He had to build at a smaller scale in order to understand the fundamentals that he was only grasping on the surface. So, he chose to stay in search mode, and never (to my knowledge) even completed the basics. Search is the dream. Build is how the real story begins and ends.

    I’ll have to look for the book you mentioned…I added it to my wish list.

  21. Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Christopher: That’s a valid conclusion that’s drawn from limited observation: there are LOTS of ideas that I haven’t written about! So I think you’re not seeing all the stuff that I have chucked. The ones that actually have a chance of bringing me closer to some form of financial and creative independence are the ones I’m pushing on; once I have a reserve, I can afford to play around more. The history of Apple is very much the same, going back to the genesis of the Apple II and the string of flops that Apple generated until Aldus wrote PageMaker and put the Mac on the map.

    David C. I hear that argument a lot from people who see the time expended on searching for people as a waste of time. I think the term for this is “solopreneur”, which is probably the group I fall in except I’ve made search for the right people one of my priorities. There’s a certain level of achievement that’s within my grasp, but to get to that next level of surprise, I think I need at least 1 or 2 people in each area of endeavor. I have several friends who have adopted the attitude that “finding people is too hard” and then they find they can’t scale their operation when they find success, and they are working way too much and don’t get to do what they’d want to do anyway. I am sympathetic, but if you defer the search too long then you end up holding the crap-end of the success stick. I don’t want to be holding that end of things! So, I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for that personal energy thing. Granted, I am fascinated by peoples working styles and personalities, so I tend to notice this kind of thing anyway, but it’s really easy to know how to sort people out: Do you get excited around them? Or do you get drained of energy? A quick test you can do is to identify some yummy part of your project, and mention it in front of people. If they are the right person, you will hear the sizzle of delicious frying bacon in their speech, and if they have what you are looking for, you might find what they are saying valuable. If there’s no sizzle, just move along.

  22. Tomas Forsman 10 years ago

    David, I agree fully. Having ADD/ADHD traits is NOT a bad thing. Just gives you a different approach to life. =)

  23. David C 10 years ago

    “There’s a certain level of achievement that’s within my grasp, but to get to that next level of surprise, I think I need at least 1 or 2 people in each area of endeavor”

    This is true… I gotta start listening for the sizzle of delicious frying bacon!

  24. Carlos Matias 10 years ago

    Hi David.
    Your the first people I found suffering from the same disease as me. Thank you for sharing.
    Regards.
    Carlos

  25. Phoebe Baker 10 years ago

    Avrum was spot-on when she suggested you write a book. You are good. Really good. At writing and at coaxing the meaning out of things. You communicate well, and manage to convey the spirit as well as the data.

    I found this post when I twittered “Anybody have a cure for procrastination?” And what a cure. A remedy, a poultice.

    A suggestion I would like to put forth is one of moderation. You seem to reach for Big Things. Big Things are good, but Little Things are usually achieved easier and faster. And it’s true, exercise should start small, and build up, in a routine, like you said. One thing I’ve found helpful is to take a class. When you take a class, you usually learn something new, and also are accountable for progress on a weekly basis. Speaking of which, I gotta write a paper. Peace

  26. Karen v. H. 10 years ago

    Wow. I’d never heard of you until today, ran across your site by accident, and wham! I find a post that blows me away with how applicable it is to my own situation. I’ve been climbing the walls, trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why all my inspiration doesn’t seem to translate into finished projects—or even half-done projects. Bless you for writing this.

  27. Al 10 years ago

    Inspiration without action is hard enough to explain to oneself (“I was fired up an hour ago, why didn’t I do it?”), let alone in a written article.  I’m not sure I follow all of your psychological reasoning, but I can draw some inspiration from the idea of creating what is mine alone.  It has taken me a long to time to appreciate “taking the medicine” early and often, rather than once when it’s too late.  I enjoyed your article because it was easier to relate to than many I have read on this subject.

  28. Ronald J. Proto 10 years ago

    Great post. Thank you for your thoughtful and provoking writing. Like many, I suffer from Type 2 Procrastination. I’m a gregarious person. Since I started consulting from my home office, I fond my procrastination increased. I draw energy from people, no people, no energy. People also provide that little extra, when you’re not sure how to do something or how to get started. The only cure I found so far is an impending deadline.

    I downloaded the free epub version of “Your Will Power”. I loaded onto my iPad. It looks gorgeous. The reading experience is amazing. Reading a 100 year old book on 21 Century Technology is super cool.

    Charles Geoffrey Leland must be sitting up in his grave cheering.

  29. Qrystal 10 years ago

    Wow, thanks for another insightful post.  It seems I am also suffering from Type 2 Procrastination.  However, I’ve been noticing it holding me back less often lately, and so maybe some of the things I’ve been doing are actually helping.

    First, I’ve been tracking almost all of my time for quite awhile, but only recently have I started doing a Weekly Review using this data.  In my Weekly Review spreadsheet, I count things like how many hours I’ve put towards the things I’m trying to accomplish, and (here’s the really inspirational part) I calculate the percent change between this current week, and the average of the past weeks.  I suppose my horrible weeks in the past are working to my advantage now, because some of my recent weeks have been a few hundred percent better than average! :) This inspires me in a different way than just having awesome ideas of what I want to do; it inspires me to believe that every moment I spend working on it is actually going to count for something, even if it’s just counting on my Weekly Review spreadsheet.

    Eventually, these drastic percent increases will smooth out to approximately zero, which will mean that I have developed a healthy regularity to how much time I spend working on things.  This is kinda like getting used to doing exercise, and it becoming a natural part of the day, right? :)

    Also, I found a trick to get myself working on stuff, bypassing the resistance to “getting started”.  (I too am prone to feeling extremely sleepy, almost as if drugged, when I am contemplating getting started on something, even if it’s something that, in general, I’m really excited to do.)  What I do is I count “reviewing progress” as actual work.  Even just rereading what I’ve done is often enough to trick me into working more on it. :)

    I’ve also started to realize that I’m not just using “planning” as a way to procrastinate actually doing stuff.  I really do need the plan to be really detailed in order for me to follow it blindly when I’m too tired to make decisions of what to do next, and really flexible so that I can change my mind often.  So, to some degree, I also count planning time as actual work time, if the planning is specific to the task I’m trying to make progress on.  Because, after all, a huge writing project (for example) is not just words, but the order that they’re in, and so outlining and listing all the points I want to explain really IS a part of the work.

    Lastly, there are two main metrics I use to judge whether I’ve had a good day, and my Weekly Review simply counts how many days were good, by those measures.  Measure #1:  Have I accomplished all three of my Most Important Tasks (M.I.T.‘s)?  Measure #2:  Have I made some progress on my thesis?  Each of these is simply a yes or no question, and so each of these has a weekly score is out of seven (and I also calculate the percent change, and expect it to be smoothing out to approximately eventually).  There is even some flexibility for those days when I’m under the weather (I just pick easy M.I.T.‘s, and make sure one of them is to do some thesis work).

    I still have times where I’m feeling “off”, but even then, I feel a pull to “do something” towards the things that count on my Weekly Review.  It’s not that I’m feeling motivated or inspired to anything specific, but that’s not what it takes to get started.  The “just do something” mentality really does beget doing more, as much as that advice sucks when coming from a source that doesn’t understand how disheartening it is to be suffering from this form of procrastination.

  30. Luke 10 years ago

    If you devote yourself to a task, you will become bored, exhausted, and burned out.

    If you devote yourself to a purpose, you will work it until completion tirelessly.

    The key is to find the purpose that originally inspired you, and keep your eyes on it, no matter what.