Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Prolific Procrastinator

Prolific - producing abundant works or results - Marbury is off to a prolific start in the second half.

Procrastinator - someone who postpones work (especially out of laziness or habitual carelessness)
I definitely work hard at procrastinating. I recognize after 37 years that I am LAZY. SOOOO lazy. I would rather do NOTHING. That to me is heaven.
It is true I get a thrill out of helping others, going dancing, traveling, taking photos. But if I get the choice between doing these things or sitting in my pajamas and "lounging" - these days - I choose lounging.
I used to be the "hyper girl" - ready to roll and go! Perhaps I wore myself out. Maybe we are given a very specific supply of energy and I have tapped out.
Needless to say, by procrastinating all the time, I do suffer some serious consequences.
For example- tomorrow. Yes, my Thursday. If I am able to squeeze in a blog post it will be a miracle. Here is a look at my schedule (and Yes, I had to schedule my day or I will be screwed!!!)
6am - wake/breakfast/pack for my trip home.
7:30am - Head to Gym
8am - work out with Personal Trainer for one hour
8:45am - stop by atm
9:30am - Hair appointment at Aveda Salon
11:00am - Go to H&R Block to get taxes done
Noon - Head to North Jefferson News for a meeting
12:30 - Stop by loan company to pay bill
1:00pm - Get eye brows waxed
1:30pm - Oil change/Tire Rotation at Volkswagon Place
2:30pm - Phone conference with my people in Pensacola, Florida
3:30pm - Phone conference for Marketing/Communications Consultants
4pm - Pick up Lestat the Vampire Cat
4:30pm - Hit the road for Georgia (don't forget to gas up!)
9/10pm - Arrive at my parent's home.
Seriously. I need to take 1/2 a PTO day. I will do that after I finish this post.
All of this could have been avoided if I had not procrastinated. These thing HAVE to get done before I leave town. Geez.
WHY do I procrastinate? What chemical imbalance causes this? I decided to do a little research on procrastination. I turned to my good friends at Psychology Today, and here is what they said:
There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.

Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world's leading experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many questions immediately.

Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don't pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don't cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.

It's not trivial, although as a culture we don't take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we are so nice; we don't call people on their excuses ("my grandmother died last week") even when we don't believe them.

Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. "Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up," insists Dr. Ferrari.

Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What's more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.

Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.

Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, "I'll feel more like doing this tomorrow." Or "I work best under pressure." But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying "this isn't important." Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.

Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don't take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.

There's more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:

arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.

avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.

decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.

Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn't necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.

WOW. I had to laugh when I read the part about being late with filing my taxes. ;-)

Sooo - what can I do to reverse this? Are there any tips out there? I checked out this website called and here are the tips they gave:


start with a written plan of action to avoid getting distracted

keep your plan simple and straightforward

start with the one thing you must get done today to feel productive

should be a manageable item you can complete in 10-15 minutes

break the day up into a number of "action sessions" for other tasks

balance the time spent planning with time spent creating or doing

avoid over-planning -- another method of procrastination

before ending your day, spend 10 minutes reviewing your progress

take time to plan your actions for the next day


your tasks should match your values or purpose

if not, you will find it hard to summon the energy to tackle them

bring each task into congruence with your basic mission

if you can't, take it off of your list

don't put any "to-do" on your list that takes more than 30 minutes

if it takes longer, it's actually a series of smaller "to-do's"

break each step out and list it separately

you don't have to tackle all the steps of a project in one sitting

spread a large task out over several work sessions

you will see greater progress as you check more items off your list

you will avoid getting bogged down in one large task or project

determine how much you can do or tolerate at a time

don't push yourself too far or you'll get bored or frustrated

plan these project "pieces" into your daily activities

set a "completion point" for accomplishing each small task

completion points give you an end in sight to look forward to

don't try to do everything perfectly

perfectionism often causes procrastination

perfectionists would rather put it off than do an incomplete job

rather than perfection, aim for progress

any small step toward completion is an accomplishment

do the worst job (or part of the job) first and get it out of the way

once you tackle the part you are dreading, the rest is a breeze

stop spending time planning and just jump into doing it

set a time limit -- "I'll file papers for 5 minutes"

alternate unpleasant jobs with tasks you enjoy

delegate out items you can't make yourself do


interruptions tend to occur in identifiable patterns

notice when interruptions occur, by whom, and why

take steps to prevent those interruptions before they occur

if they can't be prevented, learn how to delegate to someone else

if they can't be delegated, learn how to delay until you are finished

make the project and environment as pleasant as possible

play music, open a window, have a cold drink, etc.

give yourself the best tools and work space for the project

take a few minutes to organize your work space

a clean desk allows you to focus without visual distraction

it's only a chore if you think of it as a chore

find an "accountability partner" to track your progress

schedule a regular time to check in with a friend or colleague

rewarding your accomplishments encourages productivity

give yourself a break, a treat, a nap -- whatever is a reward for you

reward every step along the way, not just the end result

the bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the reward

Yeah.. okay.. I'll get right on that. ;-)

Are you are procrastinor? Or a Go-Get-It-Done?


travis said...

i would say that i'm definately in that twenty percentile range....except i file my taxes immediately to get my money back lol

Nicole said...

Money Back??? What is that? I am a double income no kids.... I rent. I fall into a certain income bracket- I owe, I owe I owe!

Bellelaide said...

I was reading this blog and saw the tips to NOT procrastinate. I'll finish reading tommorrow.

Cassandra said...

A friend of mine and I today were talking about how we should start a support group at our school for procrastination. Run it like and AA meeting. Because we have a serious problem with it. I swear I can't do anything until the day before something is do. It's awful.


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