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I Procrastinate

Categories: Announcements, Verity

"Procrastination is, hands down, our favourite form of self-​sabotage."

- Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

I procrastinate. There, I've said it. Do you procrastinate too?

I wish I didn't procrastinate so much. I'm not making a New Year resolution to stop procrastinating; that's both negative and not specific enough. I need to understand why I procrastinate about some things. Writing this blog post will help me see why I do it, and show what I can do about it.

Excuses, excuses

Some excuses are:

  1. I prefer to spend my time and attention on something else. These other things are more rewarding. This includes all the yucky tasks.
  2. I don't want to do the task. It doesn't interest me, and the result is nothing I want to see again. This includes those 'meaningless' tasks a manager wants to give you, or time sheets.
  3. If I do it now I'll have to do it again later. Why not just do it once. This includes tidying my desk.
  4. If I ignore it then someone else will do it.
  5. I want to do a good job.

For points 1-4 above I need to consciously ask myself What's in it for me if I do it? This should help motivate me. I need to also ask What will happen if I don't do it? These 2 questions should help me prioritise my actions.

The second excuse might be answered by So-and-so will complain if it's not done. I will have to decide if avoiding the complaint is enough reason for not doing the task. Maybe persuasion against doing the task is better. Maybe I will just accept hearing the same complaint time and time again. (Some people need to complain, why not make it something that is trivial and easy to ignore?)

Deciding to not perform a task is better than deferring it.


Point 5, wanting to do a good job, is different. There are several reasons why I procrastinate when I want to do the task, all relating to fear.

  1. Fear that my skill-set is not, but should be, up to the required standard.
  2. Fear that I will fail is such a way that it leads to more work or expense to fix my mess.
  3. Fear that success will lead to other, unpleasant, tasks.
  4. Fear that I will be too distracted to give the task the time and attention it needs.

The first 2 fears are self-confidence issues. I just need to attempt the task, and ask for assistance when I need it. I need to be honest when I don't know how to do something.

Tied in with the fear of distraction is the need to spend time getting back to speed on a task, and if you're counting time this leads to a fear of failure (due to limited time allowed for the task).


To avoid procrastinating I need to prioritise, and I need to phrase the task as something positive for me. Not you, just me. It doesn't matter that you also benefit from the task, but the action must be for me. (This could be just feeling good that I've done something for you.) Maybe I need to apply my business analyst skills to myself, and, use the 5 whys on myself.

Logically I know I just need to prioritise, and check a to-do list. (I've made several, but I sometimes forget to look at them.) Emotionally I need to commit to checking the list and doing the tasks. This is one of the important habits I need to make. It will probably help me if I include a reminder of my motivation.

How did you develop the habit of creating and checking your to-do list? Do you need to remind yourself why you should do a task?

"Multi-tasking arises out of distraction itself."

- Marilyn vos Savant


Even if I do achieve the habit of completing habits on my to-do list I still have a problem. How do I avoid distraction?

One cause of distraction is other people and their needs and desires.

  • At work my role requires me to respond to people quickly.
  • At home my relationship needs me to respond, to spend time together, and not shut him out.

Multitasking has been debunkedamazon.com/e/ir?t=shadowfoot-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0470372257" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />. I don't pretend that I can multi-task. I've set up my work email so that I'm not alerted to most new messages. I check it when I check it. If it's urgent then come to see me. What can I do other than that?

The other cause of distraction is simply all the other things I could be doing. These are the distractions that either give pleasure or take the current pain away.

How do you deal with distraction at work? At home?

By Brian Logan   Sun 10-Jan-2010

1 comment

Comment from: Jo [Visitor]  

I procrastinate too. I’ll find an excuse like the environment isn’t setup right (slow computer, bandwidth, etc) and then ignore the task. I’m not usually driven by fear, so prioritisation can be difficult ;)
I spend a lot of time distracted, but occasionally find the right environment, motivation and task - and turn out a superb result. I should try and figure that bit out and replicate it.

Mon 11-Jan-2010 @ 10:39

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