Procrastinatation | 01/22/08

Although my mantra of the year has been suck it the f* up the past four days I have started to slip back into my old ways. I think the big problem for this particular bout is that I'm starting to hate sitting in front of a computer. I sit in front of a computer all day and then go home and do nothing but sit in front of a computer doing the same things I do at work but for myself: wrangle semicolons.

I can't speak for everyone but my personal problem with procrastination is lack of negative reinforcement. When I am accountable directly to other people I am excellent at beating deadlines and not getting behind. When I owe something to myself though I just can't muster up that same energy. It's not like there isn't motivation and, unlike the music world, in programming you have very tangible results; I truly have no reason to not get things done (or write double negatives).

In my freshman year of high school I took a history class and at the end of the first week we were told that a term paper was going to be due the last day of the semester it was going to have to be (gasp!) 12 pages long. Now, in my defense, in 1994 we didn't have any internets at all so writing a paper entailed more than going to Wikipedia, looking up "why did the civil war happen" and plagiarizing like mad. Regardless, as soon as I heard the words "last day of the semester" I thought "you're not going to do it at all are you". I didn't. I think I got a D in the class I otherwise enjoyed. I distinctly recall having something like a 97% before the final paper but I just didn't want to do it. It's not like I had any friends and was too busy to do it. It's not that I forgot about it. I just knew I'd get away it. While I certainly incurred the wrath of my parents for getting a(nother) D on my "permanent record" I didn't think anything would come of it. Even now I don't know if it mattered or not. I know my grades were really bad generally in high school and I only went to college based on my test scores and the ability to whack a timpani properly. And there's that lack of negative reinforcement again. I did just fine. I went to college and graduate school and taught and joined the work force all without incident.

I just wish I had that panic that non-procrastinators have--like something terrible is going to happen if I don't do something for myself. I guess I've written enough although I do very busy day today so I'll probably be back.


BU (Unknown)

It's always easier to procrastinate when you know you can get away with it. I haven't been to the dentist in three years because I've never had a cavity. I almost WANT to have a cavity next time so I can get that "See? This is why you must do it" feeling.

K-Chris (Unknown)

That oh so familiar haunts me on a daily basis. Maybe I just need to come visit and some of my motivation will diffuse to you. Either that or we will drink lots of coffee and red wine. Your choice, of course.

KBS (Unknown)

Your post clearly articulates my own struggle with procrastination - I feel pretty much exactly the same way that you do. Right now, the P-beast is manifesting itself through my (still undone) dissertation. I guess I just need to suck it the f* up.

Mike (Unknown)

KBS: Man, sucking it the f* up is so hard. Having that feeling of "does it really matter? No really, does it?" is the absolute worst--especially if you know the answer.

K-Chris: Let's do it. Let's do both of those beverages and hopefully I can score some of that diffusion in the process (although I would have thought it would have diffused by now if it were going to).

BU: It makes me feel good that everyone has those. You're right though--I was really bad about going too until I got my first (and hopefully last) cavity. Once you get it filled, that'll be the only negative reinforcement you'll ever need.



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