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Friday, September 21, 2012

Procrastinate Now. Don't Put It Off*

Chris Brady

Contributing to this blog has been great fun this past year.  The four broads – Carol, Julie, Mary and I -- came together as unpublished writers who wanted to experiment with social networking. I enjoy my weekly glimpse into their hearts and souls, and it’s fun reading the responses to my posts.  

So with all of the rewards associated with being part of this blog, I am baffled why I wait until the last possible minute to start writing my post.  It’s only once every three weeks.  I should have it simmering at least by the second week, at the very latest after I read Carol’s post.  Yet here I am on Thursday night, waiting for inspiration.

I pored through my documents folder looking at half-baked ideas I had written in recent months. I started and stopped three different themes that just would not go anywhere.  I even googled "blog topics" for ideas.  Nothing was coming to me.

As I searched far and wide for inspiration -- by reading email and Facebook -- I came across a video on procrastination.  I learned why we put off doing things we know we need to do.  It’s called hyperbolic discounting.  When a perceived reward is off in time, we don’t do the work we need to do to achieve it until it gets closer to us. Then when the deadline nears, we dive into the work because the “reward”  (getting the blog posted) or the dis-incentive (the embarrassment of missing a deadline) is so close we can taste it.

Procrastination has worked out well for me a few times in my life. When I was in high school, I delayed writing an assignment because I just couldn’t find a topic when I started the work. I faked illness to stay at home on the day the paper was due. My fever to avoid an “F” inspired a story. My teacher submitted it to a national creative writing contest and it won a prize. The recognition led me on the path toward a journalism degree and a writing career. 

The video showed me a new trick called the Pomodoro Technique to help manage my procrastinating, and I think I will try it out this weekend.  Then again, maybe I'll wait until three weeks from now when it’s my turn to write.  

Share your stories about how you embrace or overcome procrastination.

*Headline credit:  Ellen DeGeneres


  1. LOL because I find myself waiting to blog just like you.
    2 thoughts - first, I am usually so goal oriented that during my "temporary retirement" I have tried to embrace procrastination--giving myself time off to relax and play instead of accomplishing the next thing.
    and second, I definitely agree with the concept of hyperbolic discounting. Sometimes I purposely put off a task, because I know when the deadline gets closer I will get that motivating surge of energy to finish

  2. Carol, I wondered how that would go once I leave the 9 to 5 world. Do you still keep an Outlook calendar?

    An executive coach I know told me about the Pomodoro Technique as a way to discipline myself back to novel writing. Just making the small commitment of time to it, and then experiencing the reward of accomplishment. Note that I have not tried it yet.

    Enjoy the beach. Chris

    1. i have maintained my outlook calendar and gleefully most days there is nothing on it!
      that all changes Monday when I start my part-time job

  3. Chris--I always enjoy your posts and those of your fellow "broads." When you find the key to avoiding procrastination, please let me know. I spent much of this working week in a state of panic as I worked to finalize slides for an all-employee meeting next week. Some things just never change.

  4. Lisa, Good to hear from you. I haven't bought one of those tomato timers yet, but I am thinking about trying the Pomodoro technique to introduce more exercise in my life. Miss you more than you know. Chris

  5. Wow - Chris - thanks for sharing that video. Now I understand why I've been unmotivated to work on my novel recently - because the reward is so uncertain and so far away! Or at least it feels that way. Will have to think about small rewards, and maybe writing down all my motivations. Good stuff :)