Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Procrastination, Goals, and Forgetting

I have a procrastination problem.  I think I may have mentioned it before.  Twelve or a thousand times or so.  Lately, I am actively working on getting around this issue (I even wrote an article on it for the most recent issue of MuseCraft News**), and one of the things I've been doing is looking at exactly how I procrastinate.

I do a few things when I'm procrastinating.  First on the list is mindless, repetitive activities like solitaire or computer games.  My next most popular procrastination technique is surfing the internet--hopping from blog to blog, researching one thing and then the next that catches my eye, or just checking e-mail and Facebook over and over.  Really it's anything that will warp time a bit and make a few hours go by in what seems like only minutes.  But coupled with whatever I'm using to help me procrastinate is always one thing: forgetting.

The forgetting started in childhood.  I don't know if originally it was a story I made up to excuse myself from doing things I didn't want to do.  By the time I can remember saying, "I forgot" as an explanation for why something didn't get done, it was true.  I actually forget to do things that I am supposed to do or mean to do or even things that I want to do (and that last one is possibly the biggest problem of them all).  I can think of something, even intend to write it down so I will do it, and by the time I sit down at my desk, I've forgotten all about it. 

Is this a defense mechanism?  I don't know that, either.  I've come to believe that the whys of it all are not really that important.  The really important thing here is finding ways around my procrastination. Figuring out why all of this happens could take years.  Working out how to sidestep the problem shouldn't take nearly as long.

I started thinking of ways to use things I enjoy to help me overcome my procrastination habit.  What do I enjoy?  Office and school supplies--notebooks, pens, markers, folders.  Gadgets--computer programs, hand held electronics, etc.  Lists.

Next I worked on figuring out what helped during the times when I've been really productive and procrastinated less: NaNoWriMo; school; writing groups.  The major thing here is public deadlines--personal deadlines no one else knows about don't seem to be useful. 

This week I'm trying two things to help--I'll report on them after I've had a chance to work with them a bit.  I'm trying out the Annual Strategic Planner and Monthly Action Planner from Productive Flourishing coupled with a daily, short list written in my cool new bright green Day Runner LifeTracker (TM).

The second is Twitter.  No, really.  I know, it seems like it would help me procrastinate, right?  And it can do that.  But I think it can also help me break out of that rut. I'm using a few hashtags (#) to make some of my daily goals public.  Right now I'm using #writegoals and #amwriting; I may add others as I go along.  While not everything I want to do is writing related, a lot of it can be framed in a writing context (for example, "write tutorial for workshop).   For now I don't know any of the people participating in these groups, but as I get to know them, I think knowing people are seeing my goals and paying attention will help me get moving.

So that's where the anti-procrastination project is right now.  I hope I'll have some good results to report soon.  If you're wrestling with this, too, I'd love to hear what you're doing to tame it and how it's going for you.  Leave a comment or drop me a note.
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Phiala said...

If you want suggestions I'm just full of them, since I suffer from the same sorts of problems.

But I don't want to force unwanted advice on anyone, and you didn't ask so you may not be interested right now.

And also, I'm phiala on twitter if you're interested.

Kim Switzer said...

I definitely would love to hear your ideas! I did sort of tuck in a "tell me what you do" message, but it was in amongst a bunch of other stuff. Sorry. Should have been more clear. :D

Hopping over to Twitter now.

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