Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 7, Issue 38;   September 19, 2007: How to Procrastinate

How to Procrastinate

by

You probably know many techniques for procrastinating, and use them regularly, but vociferously deny doing so. That's what makes this such a delicate subject that I've been delaying writing this article. Well, those days are over.

Before you start reading this — oops, too late for that. Anyway, I was about to say that after you read this, you'll be more aware of procrastination techniques, and that might make procrastination more difficult. So maybe you want to think it over before you read another word.

A cup of coffee

A cup of coffee. If you think you might be drinking a bit too much coffee (or whatever might be your own national drink), consider the possibility that it might be serving as a tool of procrastination. If it actually is, water will do just as well, with fewer side-effects.

Ah, I see you're still here. I can only conclude that you're so dedicated to becoming a better procrastinator, that despite the risks, you want to push ahead immediately. Are you sure? Take your time. Get a cup of coffee. Read your email. Chat with your pal down the hall.

OK, enough dilly-dallying. Here we go.

Any dunderhead can procrastinate. But to procrastinate so well that you actually forget about what you weren't doing, and to procrastinate consistently, requires both talent and devotion. Since I have neither, I use this handy list of procrastination techniques.

  • Find something else to do that's more "urgent"
  • Notice that you won't be able to finish until some majorly important issue is resolved, so don't bother starting
  • Start, but then remember something else you have to do. Jump to that "before I forget."
  • Enter task at bottom of to do list, then forget to look at to do list
  • Start task, think of important question, call someone who can provide answer, get routed to voicemail, leave brief message, then move on to something else you'd rather be doing instead
  • Voicemail not returned. Keep doing something else.
  • Voicemail still not returned. Consider leaving another voicemail, but don't actually do it.
  • Take a break, get coffeeSince reading this article
    can make procrastination more
    difficult, you might want to
    put it off for a day or two
  • Check email
  • Check email again
  • Spend some time moving email messages that should be deleted, from inbox to random file folders where they'll never be seen again
  • Google something
  • Fiddle around at FaceBook
  • Bored. Switch to YouTube.
  • Start task just before quitting time, then go home. Next morning, you forget you were doing it.
  • Voicemail finally returned, but you're away from desk. Make note to call back.
  • Start task, get interrupted (phone call, visitor, etc.), then when you resume, do something else instead
  • Make some forward progress, but spend way too much time celebrating it
  • Majorly important issue finally resolved. Make a note to find another majorly important issue to take its place.
  • Delegate important blocking subtask to someone who is either too busy, or works too slowly, or is unwilling to do it. Even better, someone who's a better procrastinator than you are.
  • Make some small forward progress. Whew. Enough for now.
  • Find something positive to say in case anyone asks

I've been working on an ending for this article, and I've made some progress, but it's not quite ready. I'll let you know when I have it. Go to top Top  Next issue: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated  Next Issue

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