Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mastering the Art of Procrastination

In terms of not doing anything on my anti-resolution list, 2009 was wildly successful. However, I did spend way too much time doing things that I shouldn't care about and not enough on the things I do. In other words, I have not mastered the art of procrastination. I could work harder at it, but wouldn't that be oxymoronic?

Alternatively, I could work on something else. Like - brace for it - time management. Yikes, that hurt to say.

Give me a moment.

Yeah, so if the thought of managing ones time more efficiently (yuck - even worse) outside of work is equally as distasteful to you as it is to me, you'll understand that its not an easy thing to tackle. Unfortunately, unlike just not doing stuff, we can't just not do time. Like it or not, we're doing it. So if we fill it up with stuff we have to do as well as stuff we shouldn't do, then there's no time left to do the stuff we want to do.

There's a TON of information out there on how to manage one's time more efficiently. But if your a procrastinator like me, you're probably not going to consult it. So I'll propose a simple solution - make two lists. One long and one short. The long list is all the things you have to do and want to do, and the short list is a subset of that list. On the short list, put two things that you have to do most, and two things that you want to do most. As you cross things off the short list, replace them with things from the long list. That's it.

In terms of things you want to do, I'm not talking about going to the movies or the museum. I'm talking about things you want to do that take some effort and dedication. The easy and effortless things are priority number one, and chances are (especially if you are fan of this blog) you aren't having trouble doing those in lieu of the things you shouldn't be bothering to do. Things like, for me for example, posting to your blog, writing a book, and playing the piano, take a bit of effort, and sometimes things that you shouldn't bother doing are more appealing alternatives in the short term.

What are these things that you shouldn't be doing? The things that are completely absent from your lists; they are probably different for everyone, but for me examples include picking up after my family members and straightening the house before people come over. They are the things that fill up your time but make no difference in the long run and you simply don't have to do them. Eventually, someone else will pick up their things and who cares if people come over and see how you really live? These things are sneaky; you can spend well over an hour on them before you snap out of the false productivity spell they have over you.

So I guess I've come full circle. The key to mastering the art of procrastination is not doing even more.


  1. So true. Those little household tasks take so much time away from... planning my month long trip to Europe, pondering the chickens in the backyard, sipping my sweet, light coffee as I listen to the beast talk endlessly about Greek mythology, lingering over the husband's beautiful, full lips....and, of course, petting the kitties. All highly important activities and moments that cannot be recaptured--unlike laundry which is ALWAYS there.

  2. I can relate. I'm probably doing that bad-time-management- thing that I shouldn't be doing right now. Reading blogs!

    Regarding straightening the house. Just say to people as they enter "Sorry the house is such a mess. I didn't have time to clean up". There! much easier than cleaning, isn't it?

  3. Yes--I love the phrase. "Come on in--the house is a mess!" I think people appreciate it. Either that or they have something to talk about when they meet-up with mutual friends. "OMG--you should have seen her house..."