17 August 2006

Procrastination is Your Middle Name?

My middle name is Procrastination. I'm the Queen of the Land of Procrastination, in fact. I will put off just about anything, even good things, just because .... I can. My friend Pat C. says, "Never postpone pleasure." I've attempted to follow this advise whenever possible. For an award winning procrastinator, even pleasure is difficult to get started.

Merlin Mann
has mastered a few anti-procrastination techniques that should help me. Here is part of what he thinks: "My favorite tonic for procrastination—which I have mentioned in passing previously—is what I call a dash, which is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute. By breaking a few tiny pebbles off of your perceived monolith, you end up psyching yourself out of your stupor, as well as making much-needed progress on your overdue project. Neat, huh?"

Mann is the master-mind behind loads of ongoing and completed projects. It is truly difficult to imagine he has ever had trouble with procrastination. But he makes some fine points about moving beyond the obstacle of getting started on dreaded projects, points he can only know via first hand experience. He obviously follows his own advise and has managed to squeeze onto the top one hundred blogs in the world list. No procrastination there.

I have used a similar anti-procrastination process with pretty high success. When I have something on the "to do" list that I want to do but never get 'round to, I make a plan to just do a teeny bit of it., which is often represented by "five." Here's an example: I want to work out and run more everyday. The present level of exercise is ZERO. To go from zip exercise to and hour is not going to happen. But from 0 to 5 mins. is not too difficult. From NO situps to 5 situps is EZ and can be accomplished during one commercial break, if necessary. From 15 pounds to 5 pounds is do-able. To read 5 pages won't take long, or 5 paragraphs. Even planning on starting some project or job in five mins. or five days might work. Pay off could be 5 Hershey's Kisses or five M&M's or five handfulls of popcorn or five hanfulls of M&m's. The take five process usually works for me. After doing five of something I go five more and five more over a period of time.

Like Mann's plan, once the job is started the fear is overcome and continuing on is much less threatening.

1 comment:

kelley said...

I will have to remember these techniques upon re-entry into the world of academia...next week!