Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Procrastination: know your enemy

Now I’m telling you if I can be considered an expert in something not linked to my job that would be procrastination. I love coming up with elaborate ways how not to do things and postpone them until accomplishing those things becomes meaningless.

I once started painting with acrylics just to avoid writing. I came up with a scientific-sound theory that excessive writing is harmful for my vision and therefore a more innocent form of creativity would suit me better.

Procrastination Cycle – By U3036254 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps, the most hysterical form of procrastination I’ve had was when a friend of mine gave me a procrastinator’s year diary (containing tips on how recover from the unbeatable malady) as Christmas present a couple of years ago. When the year was over the diary still remained blank; I believe I had only read the tips for a couple of days before the diary was put in the least accessible corner of my bookshelf and left to be devoured by the travel guides.  Sorry, Sasha.

So why am I writing about it? Well, I figured that we all have a past, and forgiving yourself and focusing on the present and future may be a bit more productive. Just stop reminding yourself about being a chronic procrastinator. Try to do things the best way you can, trick yourself into being productive, and if you fail, remember to not to punish yourself, just smile and enjoy your sweet surrender.

But you may object and say that it’s a recipe for failure.

How do I REALLY fight Big Pro? You don’t. I’ll explain.

It’s like a severe addiction. It can kill you if not treated, if you surgically remove it, it would give metastases elsewhere in your mind. Only joking, relax!

So don’t fight it, but instead, postpone it. Yes, you have to fight it with its own weapon. I know, it doesn’t make sense at first glance. How can you postpone postponing something? Ridiculous! It can even get worse. What if you start procrastinating over postponing procrastination? Boo!

Tell yourself: I’d love to procrastinate, but maybe I should do some important work first (the easy bit) and then I can always find time for procrastination  (over some small, less important tasks), which is a hell of a thing to endure. Indeed 🙂

In your brain you need to link the important, required to be tackled, tasks with pleasant nice things. Be addicted to efficiency. But don’t overdose: workaholism is as harmful as being a slacker. Healthy balance is the key.

Let’s assume it is still hard for you for fight it despite all these tricks you tried using. It is like taking aspirin against headaches but they still keep coming. Procrastination has its reasons, sometimes very serious, and in order to fight it we need to know our enemy well, so let’s discuss the psychology behind it.

First of all, I should make it clear that procrastination is rather hard to define, because it has many forms and underlying reasons. And considering them all is impossible within a tiny blog post (well, not so tiny now, it’s getting a bit out of hand). So, I’ll just give you brief instructions.

1. Try to identify the reasons of why you are procrastinating. Is the task daunting or is it just boring? Are you a general procrastinator or is it just one particular type of activity you are having problems with?

2. Use Google to learn about your type of procrastination, speak with your friends, and apply common sense to the information you receive, because some advice can be harmful.

3. Actively try to solve the underlying problem. Laziness and apathy are NOT your fixed features, you can overcome them and it is worth it.

4. When you are on the right track it is still easy to slip back into old bad habits. Put yourself straight back into your course when your notice first urges to postpone doing something important.

Also I have to mention a couple of common cases, which are applicable to my dear self too.

Procrastinating over boring and mundane tasks. You just need a little bit of self-discipline on a regular basis. The more disciplined you are the easier it becomes for you to accomplish things. Plus being disciplined can create a lot of free time for other activities. Yay!

Now there’s the worst case. Shrinks tell us that the major cause of procrastination maybe FEAR. A fear of failure, of discomfort, etc. Some tasks may seem to you as too big to accomplish. If you are ambitious and impulsive like me, you are prone to procrastination and it can become a major obstacle on your way to success.

Tame your fear, remember that fear is inbuilt in us as a natural instinct to help us to survive and NOT to ruin our dreams. If you must fail, at least you will always be aware that you have done everything you could to reach your dreams. You should love and respect yourself for that.

Here is my personal tip on how to beat procrastination:

  • WORK on your time management and self-discipline;
  • FOLLOW your schedule, leave enough time to relax and get inspired

But the problem here is that you can’t start doing things if you feel bored, down or unmotivated. So my advice is useless unless you

  • KNOW what makes you happy and use that as a source of your energy to BOOST your enthusiasm regularly. FIND MOTIVATION!

So tell me, are you suffering from the infestation of procrastination pixies as Kristen Lamb in her blog calls pink rodents spreading an infectious agent scientifically known as Procrastinia fatale (I am here elaborating on Kristen’s own taxonomic findings)? Or are you immune to their destructive activities (lucky bastard/good girl)?  Or maybe you have nothing to postpone, I want your job then (kidding).

Do you have a great method to fight procrastination or disagree with some of my thoughts? Share it with me and the world, we want to know!

Here’s some excellent links on fighting procrastination:

KM Weilland gives a simple tip to writers in Three Words That Kill Writing Procrastination

10 things to know about procrastination

Meet John Perry , who is a winner of Ig Nobel Prize for Structured Procrastination

And finally a treat – Ellen DeGeneres’s gems on procrastination

Anyway, that’s it. I’m exhausted now, time to pro… Procreate (kidding again).  Toodle pip!

P.S.  I’ll be back! (c)  🙂

 

Share

Your brilliant thoughts

comments

  • http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/ Ashen

    Great post. For me procrastination works as intuitive adjustment to my rhythm and timing. Indispensable for the creative process 🙂
    In the sequel to my novel I’m writing there’s a scene going into this, half way down this post: http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/the-wild-horse-of-the-mind/ 

    I like John Perry’s structured procrastination in the essay you linked here, he calls these diversions marginally useful things. And Ellen’s piece is fun, especially her CD collection.

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

       thank you for stopping by, Ashen. P as an intuitive adjustment. I wish O could say the same thing about my self, I fight with it like it’s a pest, this battle never stops ))

      ‘Ha, ha … they’re promises. They’re torture. They heap up. They demand
      execution. My way to deal with accumulative pressures and gain time to
      focus on my writing is through procrastination. I’ve become patient with
      nagging voices. They’re not jailors. They’re easily humoured until the
      time is right for a blitz. Then I act fast and achieve a great deal in a
      short time, happy to have cleared the space. –  it’s very beautiful. You have a very poetic prose, Ashen