Monday, February 1, 2010

Can It Wait?

I’m an expert procrastinator. This isn’t exactly news, but it’s an ongoing issue. The truth of the matter is, if something can be put off, I will find a way to put it off. I know I’m not alone in this problem, but I’m looking for ways to fight it. Any thoughts?

My work is extremely deadline oriented. Must submit Manuscript X to Editor Y by Date Z. This is a formula that never changes, but it doesn’t always seem to be a formula for success. What I really don’t understand is, when I get something done earlier than absolutely necessary—on the rare occasions when I manage such a superhuman feat—it feels great. It feels so much better than it ever felt to put it off. So why, oh why, can’t I always do that?

Lately, one problem is that I’m procrastinating from things that are important by doing other things that are important. It still feels like procrastination, but is it really more about prioritization? Am I taking on too many commitments? I will admit, though, that often I procrastinate from all the important things at once by looking for something else to do. Something highly counterproductive is best….

Last week I encountered a link to an NPR article about willpower. The thrust of it was that when you give your brain too many things to do, to remember or to deal with, it has a tendency to try to shut down. This kind of overload sends you running to the cupcake store (Crumbs, anyone?) or the chocolate shop (I just discovered Li-Lac), or in my case straight to the sofa where I can watch DVDs all afternoon instead of working. Basically, the brain refuses to cooperate with your “goals” and gives in to its base desires, in protest. It’s the mind’s way of saying, “Too much! Just let me breathe.”

So, how to let it breathe when there’s much work to be done? I, for one, am still trying to figure it out. What about you? Got any great procrastination-busting solutions?

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