Things I do when procrastinating 

I’m  the worst procrastinator I know. I do write do to lists and visualize results and even tried to follow one or more of the popular productivity methods and tools out there and have read countless articles and posts on how to beat procrastination to no success.

Things linger until the last minute because “performing better under pressure” seems  to be my favourite excuse. Things get done but the end result is seldom as good as it could or should be. My flat mate at university used to say I was a “perfectionist afraid of perfection”. This was, of course, only a polite or kind way of stating the obvious. I was, and still am, a typical procrastinator. I avoid what has to be done. I put off projects and beginnings because the optimal conditions are never present, they will materialize tomorrow. Or Someday,  which, according to me, actually seems to be a weekday.

I am the kind of person that thinks I can do it all even if, at the same time, I am pretty sure that I am incapable of doing anything at all. Reading   James Surowiecki’s  article Later – What does procrastination tell us about ourselves?,  I was thrilled to discover myself in one of the paragraphs:

Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle.

Just like General McClellan, I excel at planning. Realizing – making those plans  “real” – is not something that I feel confident enough to do. I tend to get lost in the wonder of new knowledge and the beauty of concepts. This was never as evident to me as when when I needed to write my PhD thesis. I had procrastinated ( a lot) during the dreaded writing phase of my master’s dissertation but managed to bring myself to do nothing else for a whole month and finish it. After all, the only “procrastination hack” that really works it’s the “just do it” one.

To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing…

Pablo Picasso

Unfortunately it was not that simple while attempting to write a lengthy, “formal document that argues in defence of a particular thesis”. I kept changing focus and approaches and adding material to my reading list and daydreaming about doing something else. One of my plans at the time was to become a découpage artist instead of continuing up (or down) an academic career path and for a few days I devoted myself to upcycling my Aldo wedge sandals into a pair of shoes that maybe Frida Kahlo would use. I’ve never been happier about the results of my action as inaction approach.

You can check the results of my procrastination or even take them home with you, here.

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