A major realization for me -
Procrastination is fed by action to alleviate suffering.
It's very hard to procrastinate by sitting and looking at the work you want to do or are supposed to be doing.
If you're procrastinating on cleaning the mess up in your garage, it's almost impossible to do so by standing in your garage just staring at the mess for long periods of time. No, you have to go back inside your home and do something else.
If you're procrastinating on some work, it's very hard to do it by staring at the work materials and nothing else. No, you'll fire up your web browser or make phonecalls or go do something else.
Procrastination is fed by action other than what you want to be doing. If you keep your attention on the action to be taken without moving from it, it's hard to procrastinate.
But why, then, do we move our attention away?
I think it's when looking at what needs to be done causes suffering. Observe:
What procrastination looks like -
I want to finish up some writing I'm doing. I reckon it'll take me 180 minutes.
180 minutes? That's a pretty precise figure, eh?
Well, that's one of the nice benefits about tracking my time every single day. Periodically through the day, I write down what I was just doing. This lets me
(1) figure out where my time goes, and,
(2) constantly improves my ability to estimate how long things take to get done.
So yeah, I had about three hours of writing I wanted to get done. Instead, this is what my yesterday looked like -
(Considering day started 6AM)
6:30AM: (20 maintenance, 10 daydreaming)
6:45AM: (15 minutes surfing)
7:45AM: (30 general-life, 20 maintenance, 10 semi-productive)
12:55PM: (120 semi-productive, 10 writing, 30 maintenance, 120 reading, 30 surfing)
1:30PM: (25 writing, 10 maintenance)
2:05PM: (35 relaxing)
2:20PM: Taking a sleep. (15 surfing)
[10:30PM: 8 hours sleep]
11:50PM: (60 surfing, 20 A-task)
1:20AM: (30 general-life, 60 reading)
1:40AM: (10 A-task, 10 surfing)
5:30AM: (210 reading, 20 surfing)
6:30AM: (20 writing, 20 semi-productive, 20 surfing)
--> Subtotal Excellent: 105
--> Subtotal Good: 445
--> Subtotal Okay: 220
Surfing/wasting time: 170
Transit/dead time: 0
--> Subtotal Bad: 170
A lot of the stuff in there is good stuff. The reading, good. The general maintenance type stuff, good. The "A-task" stuff is some phonecalls that had to be made, and I re-did the stocks in my IRA for the first time since the crash. (I decided to just not look at it for a couple years after the crash, so as not to do anything stupid)
Funny enough, I'm very sensitive to surfing the internet as a way to procrastinate - and even then, that "surfing" time is mostly pretty good stuff. Reading on marketing, looking at financial statements (but for curiosity's sake, not practical action-taking sake), fooling myself into thinking I'm doing research, things like that.
No, I became well-aware of my internet surfing time a while back, and I've gotten that number way down. But reading is still a way to procrastinate, as is making phonecalls and doing small amounts of work.
After finishing the day and tallying the numbers up, it was fascinating to look at. It would've been a good day by most standards, except I'd put off that 3 hours of writing I'd meant to do.
And then the idea crystallizes - Procrastination is fed by action to alleviate suffering.
Looking at the blank page was quite unenjoyable, caused bad feelings. Thus, oh, I need to make a call. Oh, answer some emails. Ah, I'll read a little for some inspiration. And so on.
That's what procrastination looks like. Things are unenjoyable, so diving into alternative things to get away from that.
Now, umm, I'm off to go buy some breakfast, because y'know, you can't write on an empty stomach...
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