I’m an expert procrastinator.
I should be awarded a PhD in procrastination. But…sigh, I’m too busy procrastinating to graduate.
Which means I’ve earned the degree by default.
To make use of this unappreciated skill, I thought I’d share my expertise on how to procrastinate with purpose so you can follow along.
Here are my top ten tips:
1. If you’re going to procrastinate, don’t get an early start. Lie about in bed until 10:00 at the earliest, preferably noon.
2. Check your Twitter timeline, not for the purpose of engaging with anyone or marketing your product or service, but just to see what Trump has been up to in the wee small hours. (The man is clearly not a procrastinator.)
3. Rummage around in the refrigerator until you remember what you’re rummaging for, then cease this activity.
4. Pause from rummaging to look at the sky for a good twenty minutes. Sometimes the answers we seek are written there.
5. Make a list of things you need to get done.
6. Find the least productive task on that list, and make a halfhearted attempt to do it. Something along the lines of: file nails.
7. Go to the library and check out three more books to add to the stack of books you don’t have time to read because you’re too busy procrastinating.
8. Rearrange your in-box. If you feel too productive doing so, just give it a light dusting.
9. Consider tackling that rewrite and head to the lawn instead with a blanket and book. But don’t read the book. Just close your eyes and ponder how well you’ve procrastinated for a whole day.
10. Do all of the above whenever you have a project to complete or a deadline to meet.
Before you judge me as a slug who never gets anything done (except procrastinating) you should know: I’ve managed to write four-and-a-half novels, get a new job, start a freelance copywriting business, submit my short story to ten literary journals (okay, I’m still working on this one) and feed myself five times a day. How did I manage to accomplish so much with a full schedule of procrastinating?
Here are my top five secrets:
1. Decide on what you can commit to doing that will help you reach your goals.
Even procrastinators have goals. Usually big ones.
- Get a new job.
- Start a successful freelance copywriting business.
- Do both. While rewriting your novel.
The bigger the goal, the greater the itch to procrastinate, so your list of what you can honestly commit to doing looks like this:
- I can commit to procrastinating
- I can commit to being lazy
- I can commit to procrastinating on being lazy, which means I’m actually being active, but in a sneaky way
Clearly, this list won’t generate much in the way of accomplishing your goals.
If you’re a procrastinator, you need to stop thinking in terms of PROJECTS, and think in terms of steps. A project, like GET A NEW JOB, may seem so overwhelming you’ll head for the couch.
Instead, ask yourself: what can I commit to doing that will help me reach my goals?
If you’re like me, your inner voice might say:
“There’s no way I can commit to getting a new job. But I can commit to looking on Craigslist for one hour on Monday. I can’t wrap my head around starting a new freelance business. But I can spend one hour on Saturday reading the first chapter of Start and Run a Copywriting Business. I don’t have time to rewrite a novel. But I can rewrite one page a day.”
One step at a time, baby. That’s the key.
2. If all that list-making eats into your procrastination time, schedule time to procrastinate.
Block out time on your calendar. Make it sacred. Nothing else must encroach upon that time. Not chores, not exercise, not rewriting that novel. This is YOUR time to KICK BACK and do NOTHING.
It’s okay. Really.
3. Find a balance between procrastinating and getting things done
After all, if you want a paycheck, you need to work. If you want to eat, you need to shop for groceries. If you want to sleep, you need to smash those itty bitty insects that fly inside during the winter months and buzz your ears. You can delay those activities only so long before you end up starving in a cardboard box under the freeway overpass where flying insects are the least of your troubles.
Think of getting things done as interval training. In interval training, you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity periods. You walk for three minutes then jog for one, then walk for three and jog for one, and so on. You can get things done in a similar manner: work on those baby steps in bursts, then stretch out in a hammock and ponder the universe.
4. When tackling something big, allow buffer time for procrastinating.
Got a project looming? Estimate the amount of time it will take to complete. If it’s a week, then schedule a week and two days. That way you can loaf around for 48 of those hours and not feel a twinge of guilt.
Because let’s face it: guilt takes all the fun out of procrastinating.
5. Put off procrastination for your future self.
If you’re like me, you’ve put everything else off for your future self. Why not procrastination, too?
(Don’t try to figure that one out. It’ll make your head explode.)
Now it’s your turn. Are you a procrastinator who manages to get things done? What are your secrets? Come on, spill!