Today’s Groundhog Day Resolutions Review had me thinking about “emergent productivity”, which reminded me of “structured procrastination“. I have purchased John Perry’s book The Art of Procrastination in hardcover, as I think this book may provide some insight into what’s going on with me.
Another jumping-off point is the notion that procrastination has a genetic component. The article Procrastination: Blame it on My Genes has a high-level summary of the heritability of traits like impulsivity, conscientiousness, and procrastination, with strong correlation between them. That is an interesting notion. As someone who does not have a particularly good goal-setting or time management predisposition, I could either (1) try to develop the weak goal-setting function or (2) work with the way I work. As I will never be a star basketball player, I will never be a star goal-setting go-getter. I might become a little BETTER at it, but perhaps my energies should be directed in more fruitful ways.
Hypothesis: I react very poorly to having to do something, even when it’s something I choose for myself. In fact, I react very poorly to having any kind of goal in the first place, if it seems arbitrary, inconvenient, or poorly conceived. I have always been this way. I could characterize myself as having a innate aversion to goal-seeking activity. I don’t mind goal setting, but seeking a goal with any kind of competitive or analytic measurement is avoided. I don’t even like playing board games.
If I have an innate aversion to goal-seeking activity, what are my options rather than trying to FORCE MYSELF into a box that I haven’t fit in? It’s like forcing me to be left-handed, or not to think deeply and obsessively about certain subjects.
Collecting Procrastination Tips
Clearing the mind through a 2-minute meditation – tell all distracting thoughts to go away,one by one, until nothing is left in the mind but the task at hand.
5-minute startup contest – how much can be done is five minutes? Assign this to the startup task to see how much of something can be started. At the end of 5 minutes, there is a good chance that will be in the zone.
Getting Started Ritual. Usually it has something to do with opening files, gathering everything you need to work in one place, and then remembering where you left off and what the goal was. Keeping notes in a consistent place helps, as does workspace managers.
Art of Procrastination notes: music is a good way to establish a rhythm.
When trying to start a project of any complexity (two or more different things need coordinating), I find a blank piece of paper to scribble on is helpful in setting short-term goals through a Q&A format.