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Procrastination Theories II Sunday 2/5/12

Posted by smcgamer in General, Help and Fixes.

Read this first for a basis: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/10/27/procrastination/

And then this: https://smcgamer.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/an-expansion-on-procrastination/

I have another theory.  Again, I’m no psychologist.

Procrastination, as defined in the You Are Not So Smart article by David McRaney, as linked above, is a constant war of want versus

Coffee table with coffee table book

Okay, that's one book. Image via Wikipedia.

should, now versus later, and so on.  This war cannot be won permanently, but tools can be employed.

Let’s take another analogy.  Let’s say you have a large paper to write.  It will involve hours of hard work, sitting at a desk with twenty separate books open before you.  But then you see a half-eaten box of donuts on the coffee table beside the remote.

Guess what happens next.

But what if something were changed?  What if the donuts weren’t on your coffee table, instead in a bakery’s front window somewhere?  Suddenly, acquiring donuts becomes a trip to the donut store.  It becomes something that takes more effort to do.  The tables have turned, and suddenly the paper seems more appealing than heading out to a bakery.

This is my theory – procrastination isn’t so much about doing as it is starting to do.  If it’s easier to plop down on the couch and watch four hours of Home Improvement, then it’s more likely to be done than a 20-page essay on macroeconomics and its effect on the greater social structure.

Home Improvement (TV series)

You know you want to. Image via Wikipedia.

But if fun gets harder – donuts at the store, Internet blocked, or TV switched off, then it becomes easier by comparison to do the hard stuff.

Let’s call the energy to start work EW. And let’s call the energy to start procrastinating as EP.  If EW is more than EP (if it’s harder to work than play), procrastination will win again.  But if you turn the tables such that EP is greater than EW, work becomes more appealing.

I base my theory off of a comment by McRaney that he couldn’t fit in the article.  It says that motivation occurs after starting, and waiting for inspiration isn’t realistic.

So, what can you do?  If, like a lot of people, your procrastination mostly stems from pictures of cats with funny captions on the Internet, Chrome extension Whitelist can help.  It will block all websites that you don’t put on the whitelist to prevent you from wasting time.  The whitelist feature is great, because it won’t block, say, MSDN, but will block YouTube, if you want.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “If I can disable it, I will.”  But I don’t think EP has to be infinity – you don’t want to fight through layers of safeguards just to have fun when there’s nothing to do.  If you have doubts, the best advice I can give you is just to try it.

Now, this is just a theory.  I may be 180 degrees and 20 miles off, but it makes sense.  And I reiterate, I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist.


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