Procrastination: I’ll think of a better title later

I saved this post for last.  Because I kept putting it off.  This article is about procrastinating. I do that a lot.  Like a LOT.  Everyone does it to some extent, I’m sure.  There are many reasons to do it and some of them are psychologically valid.  Writers, and other people too (like students), have been procrastinating for hundreds of years.  Writers seem to have a special penchant and reputation for putting off writing.  And I thought it was just me.  I stumbled across Writing About Writing on Facebook which reinforced the idea and then in watching re-runs of Castle I remembered this exchange:

Photo: Screen shot from IMDB.com

There is also this article from Reader’s Digest which shows that many classic authors had the art of procrastination down to a science.  Clearly it’s not just me.  It’s a common trait. 

And what does this have to do with social media?  Well, social media makes procrastination really, really easy.  It’s one thing to clean your entire house to avoid writing.  That’s just another form of hard (harder) work.  But social media is right there.  It’s available on the very same machine where I am supposed to working on my blog, assignment and/or novel.  You must all have had similar experiences.  Raise your hand if you went all through your Facebook newsfeed twice before actually committing words to the screen?  How can you resist looking at a cat video?  Listening to that song that someone posted for Throwback Thursday?  There is so much to discover at your fingertips that seems way more interesting.  Like Ted Talks!!  Don’t you just love Ted Talks?  Look at this one

That Ted Talk is actually very interesting for a few of reasons:

  1. It makes me feel like my ability to put things off is almost amateurish.
  2. It actually explains how a rational, intelligent person can engage in such behaviour. 
  3. Even at over thirteen minutes long, it’s engaging and gets me out of doing any work for over thirteen minutes. 

In gathering information to write this article, it gave me an excellent chance to waste my time do more research on procrastination and why it happens. 

Photo: Gemma Correll

It turns out there is a lot of psychology around procrastination and it has been studied extensively.  Here are some highlights of those studies:

  1. It is very common.  At a study at the University of Vermont, 46% of subjects reported that they “”always” or “nearly always” procrastinate writing papers (Solomon, LJ; Rothblum (1984). “Academic Procrastination: Frequency and Cognitive-Behavioural Correlates”)
  2. To some extent, it can be normal to procrastinate as it helps us prioritize among tasks (Wikipedia, “Procrastination”, Health Perspective)
  3. It can have roots in a fear of not attaining perfection (McGarvey, Jason A. (1996). “The Almost Perfect Definition”)
  4. From my own perspective, it means that there is still the possibility that what I create will be exactly what I was aiming for.  Once the assignment is done, it’s out of my hands as to how it will be received.  Procrastination gives me the illusion of control. 

Social media has offered me so many useful resources about writing.  And yet, I even put off reading them.  Currently, my Saved items on Facebook has eight links to articles about being a better writer and getting published.  I have not read one of them yet.  I even procrastinate about being a better writer!  What is wrong with me?

Photo: Pedro da Silva, Unsplash

This blog will be posted well ahead of the midnight deadline of April 11.  In that way, I have never procrastinated during this course.  The existence of a deadline is actually helpful to me.  And I have developed some coping mechanisms so that I can actually function and get things done.  A lot those have to do with bargaining with myself.  No, you may not go shopping for birthday presents until you’ve finished your blog.  No, you may not post that amazingly witty thing on Facebook until you’ve finished your blog. 

How do you cope with procrastination?  And did you get your blog posted on time? 

References:

Lauren Gelman, “6 Famous Writers Who Were Masters at Procrastinating”, Reader’s Digest

Tim Urban, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator”, Ted Talks, 2016

Facebook:  I write; therefore, I procrastinate.
https://bit.ly/2Kp9XHW

Twitter: I write; therefore, I procrastinate.
https://bit.ly/2Kp9XHW

7 thoughts on “Procrastination: I’ll think of a better title later

  1. This blog is so well written. You had me nodding my head and admitting some truths to myself. I know I sometimes use procrastination as a way of keeping things in the future so that they are still good ideas and not failed attempts. I have been a frequent visitor in the online shopping cove and in the city of closet re-organization (thank you Marie Kondo for making this ok). I find I’ve become a work to a deadline type in certain areas. I also find I sometimes use social media as a way to distract myself with unpleasant tasks. Hopefully all this new awareness will bring positive change:)

  2. Oh my word, what a great blog. You had me crying, I was laughing so hard. You had me agreeing with 90% of what you were saying because yes I do that too. You even had me frustrated with myself for being a procrastinator, because there IS so much more I should be doing. All of it is….. true. This is the first time ever, that I haven’t procrastinated with school work, I am actually getting it in on time, and sometimes early. Shhhh, don’t tell my work, don’t tell my kids, and don’t tell my husband, or they will expect this to become my new norm. LOL thanks again!

  3. I loved the title, very witty and catchy! I got lost in that infographic and ended up procrastinating on a headshot session that is due this evening. It was worth it though 🙂

  4. This article speaks to me in some ways, as I used to procrastinate so much in high school to the point where I left off studying for a test or doing an assignment a few days before the deadline. This article made me realize that procrastination happens to pretty much almost (if not all of us) and that it is normal for us to experience it. Overall I thought this was an interesting read and I happened to learn a few facts about this subject as well.

  5. I used to procrastinate over large tasks (it just seemed so overwhelming, how am I going to have the time to do it), or complex tasks (a lot of learning was needed first before the task could actually be done). Over the course of time, I’ve learned to plan ahead, do a bit each day, and then it doesn’t overwhelm me. But, let’s face it, sometimes you are working toward something that needs to get done and anything and everything can be distraction. You give yourself little rewards that if you work 50 minutes on your blog or your assignment or your taxes, you can take a 10 minute break. Sometimes those 10 minute breaks become 30 minutes, but whose counting!

  6. I only just got my blog posted last minute and I still haven’t started the discussion! Cue stress! I’m definitely a procrastinator but for once, my week has been bonkers and I don’t blame myself. Sometimes I procrastinate due to lack of inspiration. I had no idea what to write about this week. The last minute panic helps me to become inspired real quick. I’m not sure how this is going to work when I have to set my own deadlines. I already know this is going to be a big challenge that I will need to overcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.