Monday, February 27, 2006

double structured procrastination

So a while ago I read an article about "structured procrastination"--a technique that helps self-identified procrastinators become hugely productive. See, what you do is, you get some task that's large and daunting and amorphous and indefinitely postponable, and you're so turned off by it that you'll do pretty much anything else in order to avoid it. Your guilt makes you choose productive activities instead of surfing the internet, and so while you're avoiding the task you "should" be doing, you're actually getting a lot of useful stuff done. The down side is that eventually you may have to actually do the "motivator" task, in which case it won't be hanging over your head anymore--but there's always another task to fill its place.
A shorter-term technique that I've accidentally found is to tell myself that first thing in the morning I'm going to go to the bank/gym/whatever, but first I'll just do this one little thing. What inevitably happens is that I get so interested in what I'm doing that I end up working in a quite focussed and productive manner for hours, all the while saying to myself, "just five minutes more and I'll leave."
Right now I'm doing both of these things. I'm supposed to be working on data analysis for an experiment we did last summer, but there's a couple of interesting simulation problems that need my attention too, so I'm working on those instead, AND I meant to leave to go to the bank an hour and a half ago but I just can't tear myself away. There has to be a name for this, and it has to be less awkward-sounding than "double structured procrastination". Any thoughts?

4 comments:

Buck Daruma said...

What I like about this is the unstated addition that you're procrastinating your already structured procrastination by writing blog entries - naturally, about procrastination.

It's beautifully recursive.

Shugetsu said...
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Shugetsu said...

Erk. My favorite strategies are known to others, as well. Did you read anything about "choosing the tiniest and most harmless to-do item, and just getting it over with right now?

Rachel said...

Actually I was quite pleased with the quality and quantity of work I was getting done...it was good stuff, even if it was only made possibly by the existence of nominally more important stuff.