Procrastination, Productivity… Progress?

Hi, my name is Jean, and I am a procrastinator. In sophomore year of my undergrad, my roommates chased me down the hall as I literally ran away from a paper that was due the next day.

It’s a problem, but I don’t think I’m a chronic procrastinator (at least, let’s hope not–that article is Mean). Despite the antics, I always had assignments in on time, though maybe at the expense of sleep, meals or exercise. My college mantra became “I always get it done. It’s just a matter of how painful I make it for myself.”

Like many people, I tend to procrastinate less if I’m excited about what I am doing. (And my quest for a self-styled life is in part an attempt to avoid disinterest and make sure that I’m almost always passionate about what I’m doing).

However, even tackling something that excites me, like an essay on any topic I chose, I sometimes still procrastinate. Discussing this phenomenon with a friend recently, we made a discovery. We are both perfectionists as well as procrastinators. Might there be a correlation? It seems likely. Some procrastination is linked to anxiety about not being able to meet the rigorous standard we set for ourselves.  To get over that self-imposed pressure, we might realize that often our “good enough” might be considered “great” by many people. You can’t always operate at 120%. Sometimes, you just need to get ‘er done.

If I want to build a self-styled life, I know I can’t sit on my ass and wait for it to happen. Being proactive is key. Making a living out of doing a bunch of little things I love will take some serious effort. Proactive… and productive.

But it’s easy to get diverted, and sometimes productivity can put us in a trap of quantity over quality. I often engage in what I call “productive procrastination.” For example, to put off something pressing like a research paper, I would instead do something also important, though considerably less so, like cleaning my closet. Useful with an immediate payoff, but not as important as the paper. Pondering this, I’ve come to think that the immediate satisfaction of having completed the task (however useless to finishing the paper) gave me confidence in my ability to complete something—confidence I needed to tackle the more important task.

Am I simply justifying bad behavior? Well, maybe, but it has come with a lot of self-reflection. I used to see this procrastination as a Big Flaw. Focusing on that flaw took a lot of energy and ate away at my self-confidence. In realizing a positive flip-side to these seeming flaws, I can focus on and be proud of those, or develop better solutions to the underlying motivations behind my procrastination.

And maybe some discipline comes with age—there were fewer all-nighters in grad school than in my undergrad.

Working from my reflections, I am procrastinating less by shedding the desire for perfection. I have also begun to embrace some of my procrastinating behaviors (within limits). Sometimes I really just need to clean my desk because I am less productive when it looks like a FEMA disaster area, covered in dust and debris. So, I gain encouragement from the immediate payoff of my cleaning efforts, and I can be more productive in a calm, aesthetically pleasing space. Double win.

Are you a procrastinator? A perfectionist? Reformed and now super productive, proactive and just generally awesome?

My desk, recently cleaned and organized. Now a happy space!

 

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333 responses to “Procrastination, Productivity… Progress?

  1. Pingback: Develop Discipline and Go Get It! (whatever your “it” is) | the self-styled life·

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  3. I should reply to this awesome post right now with some witty words or wisdom. But then I think I could do that tomorrow. Or maybe the day after. Oh heck…*sigh*

  4. Another blogger ( debrazone) gave me the link to Your blog, as I wrote today something about motivation and procrastination.
    I am very happy she did!
    I love the way You write and analyze things and out yourself as procrastinator. lol
    me too!!! Procrastinator definitely! And also perfectionist!
    And also doing dishes and cleaning up than work. On one hand I need that clean desk to think and work.
    But on the other hand, I recently heard a coach on a webinar say about self-employment: Do you really think that washing your clothes is more important than making that advertisement paper? or that client call?

    That made me think… I think it needs both and more: Cleaning for a free headspace, but also getting to do things. And as many others said: getting rid of fears, lowering perfectionism, having a concrete plan what tasks need to be done and above all not getting mad with myself.

    And in the end, procrastinating or not, I also finished important papers, always, last minute is also in time. 😉

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  13. oh wow! Kindred spirits!

    I am such a procrastinator. I write a lot of stories and actually not end them…i dunno… perhaps another idea pops in my head and i leave a story behind to work on another…and the cycle continues…

    It’s funny coz that’s the reason why I came on wordpress..To try and break this habit! Fingers crossed!

    I love reading and that’s the only thing I don’t procrastinate on…impatient even to finish a series!

    I really like your writing! 🙂

    I hope you can drop by my page and comment on my stories…it would really help..i mean, if you get around to it after procrastinating a bit…just kidding! 🙂

    Thanks!

    I’m subscribing to your blog..it sounds fun!

    Take Care!

    • Good luck with your blog–I will check it out for sure! I find blogging is really helpful. A post is a post–when it’s done, it’s done! It’s a great way to explore a lot of different ideas, too, so I think it will be helpful to you!

      So funny-I’m also impatient about reading. When I’m on a series, I HAVE to have the next book available to me. As a result, I try not to start series until they are finished 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  14. Hello, First of all I would like to thank you, It sounds quite shallow but I’ve come across the word procrastination a few times, had a little wonder then let it go. But when I saw it here I looked it up. I can definitely emphathise with the word, it fits me like a hat. Although I like how you found a motto from it. But generally I am reply to say thank you for the enlightenment and keep up the good writing 🙂 -L p.s on a more shallow note, that’s a really nice desk, I love tidy.

  15. Your topic is interesting. I used to think about the dilemma of a perfectionist and procrastinator. But I tried to forget it beccause I thought it did not make sense. I used to live alone in a house where I grew up with my family but everybody started living on thier own moving out- including my mom who immigrated in the other part of the globe. I thought I could manage cleaning the house on my own but ended up always struggling to do it. I think the reason that caught me to procrastinate – even an hour or so to spend cleaning up- was I felt an hour or so is not enough and I could not finish cleaning up in the perfect way I wanted it. So there, I ended up not doing anything at all- when I could have spent 15 minutes a day doing something. Eventually I learned my lesson. I cannot do everything perfectly. Somehow I had to finish fast enough in one room and move to another. Then sometimes the “first things first” comes to my mind- it is not really important that I get a table immaculately clean- but it is more important to keep the whole room well maintained and content myself with doing a spring cleaning once in a blue moon. 🙂

    • Hi there, thanks for reading! I try to tackle housework the same way. As a perfectionist, I like everything to be “orderly” but I try not to get too carried away. I also find that just doing bits at a time is better than letting it all build up!

  16. Hey Jean, you got me thinking about this.

    And I got to the conclusion that maybe it has to do with giving yourself a break. Because these tasks always come up when you’ve got a moment to relax. And you don’t take it…

    In the end. Because the first split second you’ve got nothing to do, you spoil it by thinking and looking at the next obstacle?

    • Yeah, I have a running mental “to-do” list that haunts me whenever I try to relax. I find it helps if I set a schedule for myself so that I can say ok, this is relax time and I don’t yell at myself!

  17. I’m procrastinating right now to avoid doing my essay! Haha I know that once I start on it it won’t be that bad. Its like I need twice as much time to do it as the time thats I waste not doing it. Argh!! I also enjoy my procrastination time though. Its like a guilty pleasure.

    • Yeah, the “experts” say that the whole working under pressure idea is a myth! But I don’t dismiss it that easily–I think some people (myself included) need it sometimes! Thanks for reading!

  18. omg.. u said it perfectly..i am also a procrastinator and i do set high standard for myself.. to me, “good enough”isn’t good enough when it comes to assignments and my piano playing..but the only thing that can make get back to my senses is to be grateful with i have and what i’ve done.. ur post depicts the real scenario of college/university students.

  19. As a long-time procrastinator, I found this very useful in helping me to procrastinate haha. However, it has also inspired me to make a conscious effort to stop procrastinating so that I may also have a “self-styled life”.

    I haven’t been on this site or blogging for very long, but I have to say that you’re officially my favourite blogger on this site so far. I find your writing very inspirational.

    Keep it up. You’re awesome! 😀

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m fairly new here, too, so I appreciate the encouragement. Good luck with your blog and your self-styled life! 🙂

  20. Absolutely love this. I had never thought of putting a positive spin on my “procrastinating perfectionism.” How very cool.

    Thanks for the uplift!

    And grats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  22. Hi Jean. Well, what a nice desk you have. Just sharing, sometimes I need to procrastinate my work based on the priority in order to get my mood back. By then, I can focus more on my activity and be passionate in doing my things. 🙂

    • Hi! I agree, sometimes I need to just give myself time until I’m really ready to work on whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. Thanks for reading!

  23. Your desk is fantastic and I love your article. Inspired me to write something similar-ish about myself, as I’m very much the same. Thanks a lot for this great post and congratulations for getting put on the front page and using your procrastination to your advantage. Bravo! 🙂

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  25. Oh yes… I’m saving up for a Macbook Pro! Sorry as a guy certain things stand out… I actually didn’t see the organised desk till I got my eyes off the Macbook!
    Again, well done!

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, we’ll see how it all goes. Thanks for commenting. (oh yeah, and see comment below–I’m saving up for a new Macbook Pro, too–hopefully for my birthday, but I will definitely miss this one 🙂

  26. I use procrastination as a whip on myself. It raises my blood pressure. It does not mean I will set to work right away and do what I need, but it stirs up the juices and sets the subconscious to work. Couple days might pass, and then suddenly I know when it is time to act.

    • Yeah, some other people have definitely commented on that–that when it seems like we’re putting something off, we’re really just preparing 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  28. I try my best not to procrastinate, but sometimes I do…. I am a list-maker, my goal in life is to cross items of a list; a to-do list, grocery list, etc. I am also a neat freak. My room is always the cleanest room in my house. And I cannot live with an unclean bathroom. My parents are very relaxed, I am the neat freak in my family! My brother seems to be turning out like me though, so I’m in luck! I will have someone else on my side.

    What really grosses me out, is when people have filthy cars, and there are crumbs all over the seat where I have to sit. I would refuse to get in my own car, until I cleaned it, if it was my car.

    • List-maker and neat-freak! Maybe a perfectionist, too? 🙂 Thanks for reading. I might not meet your clean standard, but overall I’m pretty clean. You might not like my car though. Total dog-owner’s car!

  29. Lol. This blog reads very much like me. My room gets cleaned once every few months. And I see the perfectionist side in me. I’m never satisfied with things I write for instance. And programming exercises actually become a routine of getting distracted with reading ABOUT programming. Thanks for this post! It makes me feel there is hope for me! Lol.

    • Thanks for reading! Well there you go–you may have developed a useful and positive procrastination routine! Better than watching TV, I think 🙂

  30. Procrastination IS a way of life. Why do today what you could put off until tomorrow! It’s on the winding paths of procrastination that we daydream our way to good ideas. It’s like the brain’s way of compensating for the subtle shadow of guilt cast by the notion of ‘wasting time’.
    http://www.confessionsofacatwoman.com

    • I agree, sometimes we come up with some really interesting things while we’re putting something else off. Thanks for reading! Beautiful cats, by the way 🙂

  31. Yeah…I’m definitely a procrastinator. I always write things an hour before they’re due…don’t achieve my goals for several weeks…and am constantly tempted to wait before getting to work again. :/ Oh well.

    • Thanks for reading. Yeah, it can be frustrating when we feel the negative effects of procrastinating. Don’t despair, you’re not alone! Good luck!

  32. My desk is always cleaned and organized. I’m totally freak about that. BUT I am a procrastinator. Today, the whole morning, I was supposed to do something and I just didnt do it. I didnt also do other things I could have done… decided to just hang around the web… 😦

    • Well at least your desk is clean! Sometimes I find taking a task in small bits helpful. Good luck-thanks for reading (if at the expense of more important things)!

  33. Thank you! I just sent a link to this posting to all of my uber-organized friends. Maybe I’ll make a few converts to my way of approaching life’s tasks.

  34. “Are you a procrastinator? A perfectionist? Reformed and now super productive, proactive and just generally awesome?”

    Awesome sometimes. Or the opposite which would be pathetic.

  35. I completely understand what you mean. I was the same in university. I couldn’t get anything done because I could never reach the standards I set for myself. Horrible situation.

  36. Hello very interesting to me for a just looking for what I found. I want to thank those who put this post, I am glad that such blogs are here to take this opportunity and I concluded the information, as well as such I am trying my very interesting information davdo blogze also thank the administration, I wish you luck and best wishes.

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  38. great post! i belong to the league. i have an overdue report and i distract myself reading blogs. but indeed a very productive distraction.

  39. I wouldn’t call myself a complete utter procrastinator… But I AM very messy. My table is totally covered in papers about God-knows-what from God-knows-where. You can’t even see the dusty wooden surface! I clean up a couple times a month and it’ll be clear for about a week before it clutters up again.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I saw a fantastic show one time about messiness, which ended up saying that for many people, their messiness is really just a reflection of their personal system of organization and that they were just as efficient as more orderly people… I should find that!
      Thanks for reading!

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  41. I am more of a perfectionist than a procrastinator, but it totally depends on what it is that I am doing. I have been known to put off a task for weeks if possible!

  42. I am as a newbie here want to appreciate whatever you have experienced. All will be better because of its walk on undergoing the valuable lifetime. Thanks for the good sharing and your goodness for knowing me. I like it so much.

  43. I am a procrastinator, have always been throughout my life. And the fact that I am Fifty four years old and have not only survived but have done reasonably well ( i think so, others may not) would encourage the young lot! 🙂 Cheer up!
    A nice read. I loved reading it.

  44. I think i’m exactly the type of procrastinator you described up there. In fact, i did everything you wrote up there, last week, when was planning to spend the entire evening on thermodynamics revision, I cleared my desk and cleaned my room instead.
    then i blamed myself for being outrageously bad time management, or being an escapist to do something MORE important by doing something else which is less important…

    • Aah thermodynamics?! Yeah, the blame game is maddening! Vocapella–do you do acappella? I was in an acappella group in college (Loyola University Belles!). Thanks for reading!

  45. Wow!!!! Do you have ALOT of comments on this!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have been analyzing my procrastination habits, as I am a mad scientist at heart (not degreed, just practising). The thing I find out that is striking, reassuring and makes everytime I have ever procrastinated A-OK is…..if I jump right on a task that I do not feel compelled to start at that moment ~EVERYTIME!!!! EVERYTIME!!!!!~ I have to RE-DO part of the project. So I have learned to TRUST my Intuition and if I feel that the newest item on my plate needs to mitigate for a bit….I go with it! It saves me time in the end.
    …and BTW, I am a perfectionist about things too and being a deadliner helps me not to waste time tweaking things that are fine. If you are under the gun, you let the little stuff slide.
    GREAT POST!!! Very deserving of Freshly Pressed, and apparently it must be a inherited trait, b/c with the response you have drawn, this is not a coincidental landslide of comments!!
    Have a great “AT Your Pace” weekend!
    p.s. I try to tell everyone, if you let me work in my cadence, I am more efficent and accruate…..just let me do my thing will ya’!!!! :o) AmberLena

    • Hi AmberLena! Thanks so much for your thoughts and praise!
      Yeah,many people here agree that sometimes forcing the effort is not always the best way to tackle a job!
      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  46. Well, you may be surprised, but I’m going through exactly the same phase/feelings these days or should I say months. There is hardly nothing in this post which I can say doesn’t fit on me. And now I feel, I’m not alone in this. Anyways, it was a good read! 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

  47. What a nice, clean desk. I procrastinate cleaning mine and then when I finally get around to, it’s messy again in a couple of days. I’m just the same with leaving things until last minute, especially things that I don’t really want to do. Great article. 🙂

  48. How nice it would be if I could get up the discipline to clean and organize my office/writing area/library… aka studio apartment 😦 things would work so much more smoothly…

    *sigh*

    Great post though! 🙂

  49. I was a pretty lousy student in my undergrad course. I didn’t ever miss a deadline but I did do regular “all nighters”. I even wrote my dissertation in a week! I am heading back to university in August to do a post grad and I plan to be a lot more organised. I think you’re right, it comes with age!

  50. I don’t procrastinate much. But I get the feeling that I really should. I’ll give me more time to relax and smell the flowers… Congrats on being FP! K

  51. Your post pretty much summed me up perfectly. I’m a despicable procrastinator, and a crazy perfectionist. Never thought the two were related. I feel much better about myself now!! I’m not alone! My favourite procrastination activity is showering. Whenever I sit in front of the computer and try to write an essay, or complete some other project, I’m suddenly struck by an insatiable need to shower. As if being a little cleaner will improve my efforts. Goes without saying that I’m pretty squeaky clean around exam time!

    • Oh that’s funny! Are you a germophobe too? J/k 🙂
      I also feel better and more ready to work when I’m showered and dressed.
      Glad you enjoyed my post-thanks for reading!

  52. Hello there
    Where have you been for so long….you’re like a breath of fresh air and you have sure made so so many people happy with your article. All of us procrastinate to some degree but you gave that a pedigree by linking it to perfectionism. I just so like the combination that just for once I refuse to analyse it at all and take it at face value. I wish you a lovely day.

  53. instead of i have to do it, say i want to do it XD
    congratz on no being a procrastinator 🙂

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  54. You have such a cool desk. I wish I had one like that. Mine isn’t all that big (although it’s bigger than many) and it’s covered in ink stains … wood and calligraphy don’t get on very well, methinks.

    • Thanks! I had a teeny desk before and I felt liberated when I upgraded to this one! The ink stains sound like some nice character though 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

  55. hi, I have been where you have and this article opened my eyes and made me realize there is a very good explanation for the three P’s you are talking about:
    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_books_surowiecki
    I am lots better, have improved and just like you cleaned your desk space, I do more of those small things and get over with the procrastination! it is quite a devil in its own way. good luck, you have started off well. cheers

    • Ha, great article. Since I wrote a paper on Joseph Stiglitz (which I definitely put off until it was absolutely necessary to do), I especially love the idea that “even Nobel-winning economists procrastinate!”
      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  56. Hi Jean,
    My name is Jayne and I too am a procrastinator!
    I can relate to your messy desk dilemma. If my desk is too cluttered or untidy then that is enough of an excuse to put off a writing project! Because surely i cannot be productive with all this mess?! lol
    Anyway, love your blog- came across it from Freshly Pressed and am now a follower.
    I have a book blog that i work on (when i should be writing!!), stop by if you get a chance 🙂
    Jayne

    http://australianbookshelf.wordpress.com

    • Hi, Jayne. Thanks for popping by. Your blog at a glance looks great! I’ll definitely check it out when I have a chance and am not constrained by my mobile phone! 😉

      • Thanks Jean.
        Actually, you have inspired me to write an article about my own procrastinating habits and i have just posted it on my blog today.
        Congrats again on being FP. Can’t believe how many comments you have! How do you do it?
        Jayne

  57. Excellent post!
    I am a procrastinator too and could really relate to this post. 😀
    You are JUST like me. I keep putting things off till the last moment and then, start a night before the day i have to submit the assignment. 😛

  58. I could relate to this post SO well! Thank-you for putting it up! Sooo glad that there is someone else out there just like me! =D Ps-Love your desk! Actually, I love that room that’s depicted in the picture, it looks so peaceful and artistic!

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  60. Just some fun thoughts 😀 (*hopes it doesn’t go down to the world of offensive)
    How long would it take to get your clean desk to the FEMA disaster? I cleaned mine day before and the mess never procrastinates on disorganization. 1 day and it’s a jungle. >.<
    Also your great reflection makes me wonder… Did you procrastinate in writing this great article? 🙂 I'm just grateful posting this article sooner than later.

    • Haha no offense taken! My desk was bad before I cleaned it. It was very dusty and I have a black dog whose bed is right next to the desk so that’s always a problem. It was a long build up to getting that bad but in a week I’d say it can get raher untidy!
      It’s hard to say if I procrastinated his article. I guess I did since I had wanted to post something earlier in the week 😛

  61. I am a sophomore undergrad right now myself, and I am well versed in the art of procrastination. Instead of writing an essay/studying for a paper, I am here… doing non-academic things.

    Represent.

  62. I am currently an undergrad college student and can completely relate to your post! I have a feeling I am a chronic procrastinator, because no matter how easy the assignment it.. I can’t seem to do it. I wait until the night before it’s due and pull an all-nighter. I completely agree the procrastination correlates with perfectionism. I have found that I procrastinate most when I have a literature assignment due. I take a lot of pride in my writing and I can certainly be a perfectionist. I get frustrated easily when it comes to writing because I never feel like it’s good enough. I don’t feel that I have a broad vocabulary and I think that holds me back. That is why I began blogging. I made an oath not to worry how perfect my writing is.. this is my practice space. I also can’t get a thing done when my desk (or house for that matter) is a mess. If I even think about starting an assignment I find a million other things that I am more motivated to do.. I end up cleaning my entire house before I sit done to start the assignment. Procrastination.. I call it a sickness. Thank you for your post.. I’m glad I’m not the only one!!

    • Yes take heart-you are not alone! I think it’s great that you’re giving yourself “practice space” where you try not to judge yourself. There are lots of other great tips in the comments, too!
      Good luck with school!

  63. I happen to be one of the victim of procrastination…well…yeah as you wrote…there’s always the feeling that..I will get it done by the end of the time…and All is well…but often that does not happen…I have skipped many chapters to be covered for my important paper and its there unfinished and “to be continued” tag till I am writing the paper in the exam hall…Well I have managed those situations by recovering he course on what my teachers have explained in the regular classes..and make it a self styled answers…and sometimes I get good grades for my answers..Well, Procrastination is not a bad word actually i think…In life we get great self satisfying results when we procrastinate and sometimes when i see from another point of view…procrastination is a sign of being patience too sometimes…well not always…
    Loved what you have put in words…for the thing we always procrastinate to write…everything has good and bad side..guess have to live with it..:)

  64. I happen to be one of the victim of procrastination…well…yeah as you wrote…there’s always the feeling that..I will get it done by the end of the time…and All is well…but often that does not happen…I have skipped many chapters to be covered for my important paper and its there unfinished and “to be continued” tag till I am writing the paper in the exam hall…Well I have managed those situations by recovering he course on what my teachers have explained in the regular classes..and make it a self styled answers…and sometimes I get good grades for my answers..Well, Procrastination is not a bad word actually i think…In life we get great self satisfying results when we procrastinate and sometimes when i see from another point of view…procrastination is a sign of being patience too sometimes…well not always…
    Loved what you have put in words…for the thing we always procrastinate to write…everything has good and bad side..guess have to live with it..:)
    regards 🙂

    • Good luck improving on your procrastination! Having studied both writing and political science in school, I always had a lot if reading to do! I became very good at skimming 😉 I also took really detailed notes in class which definitely helped later!
      Thanks for reading!

  65. Now that I think about it, I think I’m a little bit of both. But I can’t even get myself to work on thing I really like. Need to get it together! :p Nice read! You’re desk is heaven, by the way!

  66. I am going to comment but first I need to procrastinate… soz…
    I’ll come back later (ps good blog)

  67. i’ve never thought of procrastination as correlated with perfectionism, but i like the idea. i wonder how it’d go over on my boss?

  68. I have a presentation comming up on a topic of my choosing for a Just War class. I am intent on making it perfect or as close to it as possible and fighting procastination to the core. But when procrastination sinks in, I will clean up my room and not feel guilty. Thank you.

    • Haha well I certainly won’t judge you but don’t neglect your project! Plus, just war theory… That’s interesting stuff. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  69. I prefer to call myself a creative procrastinator…you know…because I’m creative and a procrastinator. Someone commenting on my blog suggested the term procrastinatrix, so I think that’s what I’ll start calling myself. I am the procrastinatrix! Do it!…later. 😀 In all seriousness though, I do engage in that productive procrastination business quite a lot. I make myself stick to related tasks though. If I’m supposed to be writing and I just can’t bring myself to work on the main project, I have to write or edit something else. No closet cleaning (as much as the closet needs it :D). It helps me a lot. And usually, I end up working on the project I’ve been putting off…you know, while procrastinating on the new project.

  70. Yeah, know what you mean…a reformed procrastinator, life is now just a whole lot easier and better without the need to beat myself up! Must check out the non-conformity blog…sounds just like me! ^_^

  71. Good reflection and sounds like you came away with some ideas for how to beat the procrastination when required and embrace it when it is actually helping! Love the photo of the clean desk.

    Congrats on being FP!

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  74. Productive Procrastination – I like that! I do this a lot, and now that I have a name for this behavior, I may do it even more. I definitely procrastinate when it comes to papers. I find that if I just force myself to begin the assignment it seems to come easy after that. I just normally wait until the night before to be that forceful with myself.

    • I would often force myself just to start anywhere–wherever in the paper I seemed to feel the most sure of what I wanted to say. That usually helped me to just START. It’s tough though. I can’t say I miss writing papers…
      Thanks for reading!

  75. Great post! I’m a sophomore in high school and I was just thinking about this topic when I saw this on freshly pressed. I especially enjoyed how you spun procrastination, something that generally has a negative connotation, to something that can be positive and even helpful. Now I’m doubly excited for college… once again, lovely post 🙂

    • Thanks for reading. Yeah, we can spin anything 🙂 But seriously, it does help to not always focus on the negatives! Have fun in college and don’t procrastinate *too* much!

  76. I read this and felt like I was reading something I might write about myself in a few years! I’m intrigued by your ideas, and happy to know I’m not the only one 🙂

    Also, your desk is absolutely awesome. ❤

  77. This was wonderful! I have always been a perfectionistic procrastinator. I have “but first-ing” down to an art. You know about but first syndrome don’t you? I need to do this “but first” I’m going to do that. I heard about it in an email years ago and adopted the name on the spot. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more, have to admit I did get distracted by a couple of your linked articles while reading this one… lol. Thanks for sharing your plight with us. Birds of a feather and all that you know. 🙂

    • Oh yes, but first! My mom always told me (probably when dealing with a list of household chores on Saturday morning) that it helps to get the hardest thing out of the way first, and the rest will feel much easier!
      Haha, I’m sorry for the distractions. I should have considered that… 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

  78. have recently been informed that my “good enough” is far in excess of “the standard” and that my “best efforts” should be saved for special tasks. Now all I have to do is work out which ones are not special enough to put off until I am confident enough to do the perfect job….ahhhh

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  80. Hello Jean.

    I’m Allen and I’m also a chronic procrastinator. I even blogged a formula of procrastination on my previous post. As I see it, the only way I avoid procrastination is to focus on what I’m doing and stop myself from distractions such as the television. A way to overcome this weakness is to admit that its on our own system. It’s good that you have come up with some steps on overcoming your problem with procrastination. Always continue to be proactive!

    I’m looking forward to your next posts and congratulations in getting Freshly Pressed. 🙂

      • The formula works. Impulsiveness really plays a role in procrastination. Funny thing is that before, I though paper works makes me lazy. The truth is that paper works made me realize I’m lazy. 😀

        I see that you’re trying to respond to all the comments here. Thanks for the effort! 🙂

  81. Oh my! We definitely need to be blog friends! I tell myself that I procrastinate because I work best under pressure, but I’ve realized that I procrastinate as a sort of self-sabotage. Here’s why: If I don’t do well and I put things off to the last minute, I can blame my failure on procrastination and tell myself that, given more time, I would have knocked it out-of-the-park. If I don’t do well and I also did my best with plenty of time for editing, etc, then I have nothing to blame but my intrinsic worth and abilities. *whew*

    Anyhow, my blog is about procrastination too! Let’s be WordPress buddies! Congrats on being FP’ed!

    • Thanks for reading!
      Yeah, I’ve also feared I’m sometimes self-sabotaging. It’s not a happy thought, but good to recognize that you’re doing it, I suppose. After a while I got sick of thinking “I could have…” though I definitely fall into the trap sometimes. I also realize that sometimes I’m sabotaging myself for a good reason–like I’m messing up a job app for a job that I don’t really want anyway…
      Your blog is beautiful–it definitely doesn’t seem you’re procrastinating that! WordPress buddies for sure!

  82. I procrastinate. Out of sheer lazyness. I suppose it would be more worthy if it was out of some great pursuit of perfection or art, a journey of creation…but not me… half the time I just can’t be arsed.

  83. Hi Jean,
    I’m excited that your article was featured on the front page, now I believe there is hope for me. I never realized how many people proscratinate. I really enjoyed myself. I definitely look forward to reading your blog often.

    Chrystell

    • Thanks, Crystell! Yes, I have long been a procrastinator but I do think I’m getting better–so I believe there is hope for you too! There are some great suggestions in all of these comments as well.
      Thank you for reading and commenting–and good luck!

  84. I’m often convinced I’m studying with a major in procrastination! I tend to put things off as I’m convinced that I’m not able to do it to the standard expected (usually my own standards, mind you!). I’m terrible at creating diversions for myself. My room is continuously getting cleaned or I use exercise as an escape. I usually find myself overwhelmed with the impending tasks at hand, finding it all too much and telling myself I’ll come back to it another day. It’s really helpful to write a list of all that’s due, and then break it all up into tiny little sections, doing one thing at a time. Setting an alarm and moving onto something else when the alarm goes off.

    What are you studying?
    Good luck!

    • There’s a great quote….
      “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
      -Mark Twain
      I am also a list maker! The alarm idea is cool!
      I studied Writing and Poli Sci in my undergrad and then did a Master’s in Public Policy (more poli sci). LOTS of loooong papers in my academic career! All the better to procrastinate!
      Thanks for commenting and good luck in your studies!

  85. As I was reading your article, I was literally pointing at it and saying ‘This is me!’ Although, you do have a couple of years on me. Here’s hoping I will improve with age too!

    A lot of the time, even when I’m anticipating doing something because it’s interesting/ or I enjoy it, I still procrastinate because I want to do the thing *properly*… whatever that means. So I end up delaying it and delaying it, until I *have* to do it. I guess that’s the perfectionist side! So how have you found the whole procrastination thing in relation to blogging? I’m just tentatively starting the whole blogging thing, and already, posts that I’ve come up with in my head aren’t being written because I want to do them *properly*. Exasperating.

    But thank you for writing the post – it’s nice to hear about somebody else with exact experiences!

    • Thanks for reading! It sounds like we’re similar procrastinator-types. Down at 3:11 pm, Kurt Mekemson mentioned journalling. This has really helped me be a less self-critical writer, too.
      With blogging, every time I post something, there’s a moment where I hold my breath and freak out a little bit, but it’s getting easier. Before I started, I made a list of a bunch of post ideas. I also try to keep reading other blogs and articles related to my main concept to give me new ideas.
      Also, I usually sit down and write something that *might* become a post. I revise and revise it just by rereading, and sometimes I end up just not using it. but then taking something from it for a different post later. My advice (though I’m not trying to come off like some kind of expert)–just start writing without thinking that it’ll necessarily be a post. And see what happens!
      Phew, sorry, long response!
      Good luck 🙂

      • Haha, I like long responses, so don’t apologise! Thank you for the advice. In fact, before I started the blog, I did make a list of some useable ideas (was so not throwing myself in the deep end without *any* planning!). 😉 But I’ve been reluctant to start. I guess I’m sort of doing what you said about reading around – by looking at other blogs and reading FP so I can get a feel of the idea of blogging itself.

        But I think I can do that forever – the curse of the procrastinator! I suppose I do need to just sit and write now. Hopefully, things will fall into place. Thanks again! Congrats on such a successful post – it has been very insightful. And I hope you achieve your self styled life!

        • Congrats on finally getting started. Yeah, I kicked around ideas for a long time, too. Sometimes it takes a bit of time before you finally say, ok, I CAN do this. Your idea sounds great though–enough of a focus to keep it coherent, but not so limited that you can’t move around a bit. I’m sure you’ll do great!

  86. I am a definite perfectionist and a huge proscratinator. Can anyone, please help me! lol…I always tend to do the non important things oppose to the important things. Unfortunately, I don’t get what’s important complete. HELP MEEE! LOL. I need to changeeeee. Badly!

    • It’s not so bad. Just break it down into small tasks to make it more manageable and less onerous.

      One small step at a time is all it takes.

  87. My recommendation: Find a partner in crime. And someone who is a different from you as possible. If you tend to be inspired and move quickly from one amazing idea to the next, leaving behind a battlefield of half-finished amazing drafts, work with someone who is less productive in terms of having good ideas but great at finishing stuff. I have started actually asking people I plan to work with, whether they are good at starting or at finishing stuff. And will not, for example, commit to writing another research article with anyone who is not a finisher. Because I know from experience that it will never reach the state of final draft. Intuitively and if uncontrolled, we lean towards wanting to work with people who are similar to us but we will achieve so much more (and actually finish it) if we partner with people who carry our missing piece.
    I hope that helps.
    Eva

    • Great recommendation! I agree that despite the gravitation to similar people, it is good to match up with opposite, complementary people instead (in marriage, too!). Procrastination can definitely be reinforcing among a group of us! My friend Erin (down at 12:29pm) and I were terrible together, though we had lots of fun.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  88. Procrastinating and perfectionism are my two biggest flaws. Upon reading your article, I see that they DO go hand-in-hand. Thanks for the article! Great read!

    • I agree this is often the case. I guess it depends on what the task is. Also related I think–Judithornot (down at 1:09 pm) also mentioned that we’re often working on something in our head before we ever get it down on paper.
      Thanks for commenting!

  89. I was like that at University until I realised that putting stuff off or carrying out displacement activities doesn’t yield that greater results; what did yield results was doing the work and then having a nice relaxing break.

    P.S

    Who is the most important person in *your* life?

  90. I would think I’m a procrastinator but I almost never lose sleep over it so maybe not. Then again, I don’t start things for a long time, especially if I don’t know how to do it. It’s like, I need a job, but i hate looking for a job and filling out applications and going into places to ask and then returning them. Much better to just put it off for tomorrow when it’s warmer.

    • Ugh, I can relate–I am job searching too. I also hate it! Having filled out so many applications at this point, I am getting better at it–quicker and less worried about the results 😛
      Good luck to you!

  91. For some people procrastination yields the best end product. If you can make procrastination a positive force in your life there’s nothing wrong with it. Getting the job done is what counts!

  92. How can you be a procrastinator and still manage to get freshly pressed…..seems an oxymoron to me…

    Hand in this Post as your assignment…

    spread the humor: charlywalker.wordpress.com

  93. OK, I fit the description. But I have found that blogging helps. Perfection isn’t required, or expected. In terms of writing, I have also found that journaling helps. I am the reader and the writer so I learn to get my words down more quickly. Finally, I have learned the small bite approach to procrastination. If I can get just a small piece of a project done, it inspires me to do more.

    • I agree totally! I often feel just better in my life in general when I’m journaling (and I’ve gotten better at it–I used to judge myself on my journal and realized that was totally ridiculous 😛 ). Blogging has also helped me a lot. I actually don’t procrastinate on my posts very much because I really enjoy it. I thought I would be terrible without externally imposed deadlines, but I’ve surprised myself, and I do believe this has given me more confidence in general. Small bites are good too! I also love lists. Crossing things off is oh so delicious 🙂
      Thanks for your comments!

  94. I can really relate to the procrastinating part. I’m a postgrad and just finished two research papers. Mind it took me a 20-hour session at the library but it got done.

    Discipline has come with age, but it’s worked the opposite way for me! I’ve accepted that my brain just doesn’t work too well academically before 6pm so now I just get down to it when I’m in the zone.

    • Nice work on your papers. Learning when you are most “on your game” is something I’ve read as a tactic for dealing with procrastinator impulses! Good that you’ve realized your work time!
      Thanks for reading.

  95. I like the point you make about the accomplishment of an Avoidance Task leading to confidence, and possibly helping to end the procrastination. That would make an interesting research study.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree, that would make a very interesting study. I’d love to know if I’m just coming up with more excuses for procrastinating or if my “feeling” is justified…

  96. Hey, this is a great article! I know that something that I’ve always struggled with-especially if it’s unpleasant. But you’re right. Sometimes you just have to buck up and do it anyways. I know I always feel better afterwards.

  97. Love your Post! Though I’m Realllyyy annoyed by procrastination but that you accept it is what I like 🙂 congrats on FP. Please tell me, if you do know, how to deal with a husband who is a chronic-procrastinator! :s

    • Haha thank you! I try not to cause others problems with my procrastinating but I’m sure it happens sometimes. And of course, it annoys me when my husband puts off certain things, too! Go figure…
      Thanks for reading!

  98. I do the same thing when there is something that I HAVE to do that I really don’t want to do. I do something else, less important, but more satisfying. As long the dreaded task gets done on time, I don’t see the harm. 🙂

  99. Hey Jean, I ran across your blog as I was logging into mine. I know that many have said it, but this really speaks to the type of person that I am.

    I am a perfectionist in that everything always has to be neat and orderly. While I can never think of a time in my life that I haven’t met a deadline, I constantly put things off. This year I’ve started graduate school and while I swore that I wouldn’t procrastinate… I do. I even cut back on my leisure activities thinking it would leave me with nothing to do but my work, and it hasn’t. Instead, I find other, less exciting, ways to take up my time.

    I also do productive things in order to procrastinate, such as cleaning my desk as well or even cleaning up my whole house. In fact today, rather than do my data analysis paper that’s due on Tuesday, I’ve updated a resume for a summer internship, which has made me feel better. Sometimes when I clean the endless notes off my desk, straighten up my bookshelf, or grade papers, it gets into a snowball effect where I just continue rolling right into what I need to be doing.

    After reading your post, I must say that it makes a lot of sense and there are definitely things I will be taking away from it. Especially important was the part about my “good” work being “great” to someone else. Perhaps it’s due to us always knowing the flaws and thinking they’re significant when they’re not.

    Anyways, great post! and I look forward to reading more from you.

    • Thanks for reading and your comment! I have cut back on leisure activities before, too. Personally, I think I am actually more productive when I am busy. Having some leisure activities scheduled forces me to be more structured, and it’s good stress relief.

      I’m glad you found some useful ideas in my post!

      Oh and data analysis?… maybe THAT’S why you’re procrastinating! 😛
      Good luck with your work and your internship applications!

  100. Shit! I didnt know until now that it is possible to have not 2 but 3 individuals with ‘exactly’ the same behaviour!!

    Agree with you and heartonfire17. I am exactly the same as you two! My engineering entrance exams are going on and I have to revise about a 100 huge topics for exams held each weekend but instead of equally dividing 20 topics/day what I do is for the first 4 days I just keep studying the first 5 until I get ’em perfect….and the last day I rush through 95 topics 😉

  101. I can definitely relate to all of these… I’m a procrastinator, a bit of a perfectionist, and proactive. I think there’s definitely a correlation. I tend to tidy everything before starting doing any work, partly to procrastinate and partly because I run with the logic of clean space, clean mind. It doesn’t help though as I just get distracted by something else. Glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

    • Yes. Multitasking is part of the mix, too, I think. My uber-productive cleaning days are frequently chaotic because I start one thing and then get sidetracked, but it’s all clean at the end of the day! Thanks for your comment!

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  103. If procrastination works for you (you still get the papers done and a good grade), why fight it? Often we are writing things in our mind, so it is merely a style of organization. I’ve been doing it for almost 50 years now. 🙂

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  105. Yes, most procrastinators are inevitably perfectionists. It’s in our nature to go above and beyond which is something to be thankful for… regardless of the agony we inflict upon ourselves in the meantime.

    • Hi, Heather! Yes, it seems to be a very common relationship. I like it-we’re just sacrificing our own sanity for the sake of creating something fabulous and perfect! I think this is possibly the case sometimes… Thanks for your comment!

  106. I’m the same way. But I don’t think you’re justifying bad behavior because it was never bad in the first place. I’m just happy that you embraced that part of yourself because a positive attitude can help you power through anything 🙂

    • Thanks, Ashley. Yeah, I think the positivity helps me prioritize and figure out when the procrastinating is harmless and when it’s in the way. Thinking it’s just all bad is not constructive!

  107. All this post makes me think of is sitting in the Ahearn computer lab writing our Aristotle papers into the wee hours of the morning, and watching the YATA YATA YATA dance on something other than Youtube since Youtube didn’t exist yet. 🙂

    • Oh yes, you have seen me at my finest! It’s bad that sometimes procrastinating can be so fun, especially with a friend, late night giddiness and the Internet!

  108. I am a procrastinator. I don’t know if I’m a perfectionist but sometimes I want things to be done perfect. Does it sound like a perfectionist? lol. I’m not good enough so I’m doing my best to fall on that level, being good enough or being great. Thanks for sharing this to know that I’m not alone.

  109. It’s great that you are really looking deep as to why you procrastinate. I do not feel that everyone procrastinates for the same reasons. I could write a book on this subject.
    I once used to be like that as well. I would lay off projects that were due till the last minute becoming very anxious for a week up until it was due but still wouldn’t do it. I found excuses like I needed to research this more or that more before I actually completed the project. In the end I never really found out more information that was needed in order to make the project any better. I could have done the project a week early and avoided the added anxiety.

    Ok, I’ll stop. Anyway great stuff!

    • Thanks, Tina! Oh the anxiety is a killer. The desire to avoid it is probably one of the reasons behind my self-reflection. Stress is bad for our health and I certainly have at times stressed myself out too much! Congrats on being reformed 🙂

  110. I spent a good deal of my time in undergrad telling myself I worked best under pressure. I would always be proof-reading and printing out whatever paper the morning that it was due. I think there was some proof to this justification, but for the most part, it was just that.

    • Yeah, the “academics” on this subject seem to suggest that the “working under pressure” idea is a myth. I’m not totally sure and suspect that everyone is different (an easy out, I know). I have been trying to create my own deadlines and pressure to keep myself motivated within a healthier timeline.

  111. Great post! This describes me perfectly. My last exam of university is tomorrow and I found this semester that my procrastination got so bad, I would not start assignments until the day they were due. (In the past, I would start it the night before at the latest.) For me it wasn’t so much a question of perfection, but that I couldn’t get motivated to do something until I had a looming deadline. I should mention that I’m in journalism, so I’m used to trying to beat the clock on everyday assignments. Of course, how much I procrastinated on an assignment correlated with how fun the assignment was.

    • Good luck on your exam! Yes, motivation is another significant thread in the procrastination discussion. It’s a good thing your cool under pressure will be useful in your career!

  112. I definitely procrastinate! I mean putting out the garbage, who has time? If my landlord knew how messy my apartment was I’d be in so much trouble! Great post!

  113. Oh yeah – Perfectionism and Procrastination (notice the capitals!) have been eating at me for years. I used to be proud of my Perfectionism until I realized, years later, it kept me from my goals. Once I made a conscious effort to notice it and squelch it, I was able to make forward progress, but it still rears it’s ugly head occasionally. Still have a lot of trouble with Procrastination, though.

    I like your idea of a self-styled life. I came to the same realization last year. In getting there, self-reflection is a GOOD thing. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. Good luck!

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, perfectionism is one of those sometimes good / sometimes bad things. I guess the challenge is figuring out when to use it! Thanks for your encouragement. I hope you’ve had some success in your self-styled life journey!

    • I’m glad I made you feel better! I’m definitely finding that less self-criticism is helping me both utilize my strengths and develop better habits!

  114. My son is a big-time procrastinator. I’m going to have him read this. It helps me understand him a bit more…will it help my parental frustration? Not sure! But it gives me some things to think about for ways to help him. And lovely, lovely desk. I have to write by kerosene lanterns in an old cabin!

  115. Being a procrastinator does not displease me, since for that period of some last hours, I am truly engaged into my activity, I feel like my mind is working faster. I might not be a perfectionist but I do like doing things in a certain fashion, even the most little things, and hate it when people just do it for the sake of completion.
    Anyways, nice post.

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, I also get that feeling of my mind working faster when the deadline looms. Maybe it is literally just in our heads, but if you get the job done, then good!

    • Ahh, classic productive procrastinator… As long as you eventually manage your priorities without pissing anyone off or driving yourself insane, I say so be it!

  116. I read your article whilst procrastinating…! Sounds like me down to a tee! I’m going to embrace my procrastination (to an extent of course) and I shall begin by tidying my desk! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  117. Perfectionist, yes, procastinator, not a chance. Actually, to be the opposite isn’t so bad, atleast that’s what my husband firmly believes in. 🙂 good post!

    New blogger? Check out
    Maryawrites.wordpress.com

  118. This is a great post! Actually, I am not a procrastinator, but I am a perfectionist. I agree there is often a correlation between procrastination and perfectionism. That is usually the issue. I am such a perfectionist that I know if I don’t start early and work my ass off, my work will never be perfect enough. Maybe I face insecurity plus perfectionism. I don’tknow.

    But it sounds like you are making progress and realizing some important things. Congrats on being FP-ed and hang on for the ride—————–
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathy. Thanks for your encouragement. I’m very excited about being FPed! It’s great you give yourself time to perfect your efforts, as long as you don’t drive yourself crazy, I suppose! Thanks for reading 🙂

  119. Nice desk! Hello, my name is Lakia, and I’m an EX-procrastinator LOL. I used to procrastinate, but it was only out of fear.. I had to get over that quickly and now I’m soooo much happier lol

  120. Jean I read your article. It so reminds me of those days you spent in my English and writing classes. You were a perfectionist then too. A liitle procrastination never hurts though! It’s simply prioritizing by delaying tasks. I still have a copy of your skittles vs Hershey kiss essay that I use to show my students how to write. You are a talented young woman and I am glad to see your recent work. Godspeed!

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