Ahti Kitsik
Building develper tools. Python, Java, JavaScript.

writings about @ahtik

Forget the Procrastination

By Ahti Kitsik, 16 Jun 2007

I'm writing this story while riding on a train to Tartu, moving at 70km/h. Where else could I have that much free time with 4KB/s internet. This time it's not technology that gets my attention, it's too old fashion. Today I want to share my thoughts related to Procrastination.

Procrastination is the new popular disease that threats everyone just like did stress years ago. Back then everyone admitted that stress is bad and people were trying hard to notice the stress in very early stages. Contrarily, Procrastination is taken as something to be proud of - like a habit of a genius.

John Perry at his website propagates Structured Procrastination to get over the unexisting productivity that you get from the Procrastination. The principle idea is to make something seemingly important your top priority task and just don't do it - take next from the list. He claims it would cure the Procrastination and boost your effectiveness.

If you are hi-tech Procrastinator then you have probably also familiar with Paul Graham essay on Procrastination

I don't believe any of this "tweak your lazyness" methodology that tells you Procrastination is something to be OK with. You don't have to play with yourself and think out hacks to overcome Procrastination. You can do this but then you never get the effectiveness you are dreaming about.

You have to force your discipline, make effectiveness a habit! Start small, start planning your day.

Don't start by making plans for a lifetime and next 2 years! If you don't have the habit of acting small, how do you think you can make big actionable planning if you fail with one day planning? You need a plan for sure, but you have to fix the root first. As they say - think global, act local.

I'll describe something that helped me to get out of this spiral when there was so much to do, so little time available and I still ended up by not doing anything.

Just take a paper and put down everything you want and could do tomorrow. If you are a real Procrastinator then you end up with a big list and everything seems feasible. At the end of the next day you probably notice that you managed to complete just a few tasks, or.. as a real Procrastinator.. you complete none.

Don't worry, we know how to fix it! Take your list and calculate plan for tomorrow:

X = (y/a)*2+1
a - total number of tasks, y - number of completed tasks

Meaning, if you failed, just complete 1 task. If you finished 5 tasks out of 10, try to finish remaining 3 tasks tomorrow. Believe me, you'll become extremely happy person after you manage the skill to complete at least 80% of your daily tasks for at least one month. After that it becomes natural habit and just keep practicing! :)

Let me know if any of this made sense to you!

Happy planning, work hard and take time to relax, dear Procrastinator :)

PS. Still, I think Paul Graham essay is excellent, he just tends to label everything as Procrastination and some of his examples are not signs of Procrastination!

PS. It finally makes sense why blogging is so popular in US - commuting takes a lot of time and train is the best place to blog.

@ahtik is on twitter!