Hi there. I've just joined and am hoping to stop procrastinating after 47 years of it. OK, maybe 40 - I reckon I really didn't start procrastinating til I was about 7 and the need to Tidy My Room became apparent.
I'm a university lecturer and have done reasonably well in my career. But I could do so much better and, even more importantly, would be living with so much less stress and anxiety if I didn't constantly put anything and everything off that doesn't give me immediate pleasure. What I've already read here about procrastination as a problem of impulse control really rang true to me. I've just had a period of research leave from teaching to complete a publication and I didn't procrastinate as badly as I have in the past - but I'm still working up against the book deadline and just /wish/ I'd managed to work this productively right through the leave time. Now I'm going back to teaching. I love teaching and don't tend to procrastinate in relation to that. It's all the administrative bits of my job I don't like - so I put them off, offend and disappoint and stress people and myself, sleep badly and waste time worrying about the things I've put off... And the fact is that none of these things is actually that terrible to do whilst I'm actually doing them. There are also some small writing tasks I procrastinate around, such as corrections to articles. I'm the world's worst completer-finisher. I love the New Idea, starting out. Then I sometimes struggle with the bulk of the research and writing but usually manage to get it done somewhere around the deadline...and then...it starts. The bits that a good kid on Work Experience could do, the looking up missing references, the proofing, the actual sending it off to the publisher - everything takes longer than I think it will and half the time I don't even feel I really know what I'm doing or how to start - even though it's my own work I'm finishing!
I also put off anything domestic - including, yes, tidying my home office - except for cooking. So my partner gets lots of lovely home cooked food but has to do EVERYTHING else (including clearing up after my cooking) or it wouldn't get done - there would be no toilet paper or bills paid or plants watered or bath cleaned or...etc etc. Before I moved in with him my home looked like an episode of The Young Ones, if anyone remembers that. And it isn't that I enjoy living in mess - I love the house to look nice and it's so much calmer. Again, none of these things are so terrible once you I get doing them. Just occasionally we have a big cleaning day together and I really quite enjoy it. My partner is great and would like to get down to a writing project himself so it's not fair that he has to do everything. (Although I should say in my defence that the food here's /really/ good).
Already I've seen a number of situations written about here that are very much more difficult than mine, so I hope all this doesn't seem ridiculously self-indulgent. I have been very lucky in many, many ways and obviously I get enough done to hold down my job. But I honestly think I could live a really lovely, exciting, stress-free life which would be much /more/ pleasurable if I didn't have this child-like desire only to do immediatlely pleasureable things!
Good wishes to all,
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Hi Eleanor Agree totally
Agree totally with you on the ideas vs finishing thing. Do you have to work on your own or can you team up with others? I know my limits (and my talents!), so having dreamt up an awesome project last year (and got it together enough to get it financed and ethically approved which is unheard of for me) I realised that recruiting subjects and maintaining site files would be utterly beyond me. I look at Myers-Briggs stuff a lot, so I, ENTP, teamed up with an ESFJ and an ESTJ to support me. It's going well*, although heaven knows what will happen when we approach write-up time.
* have had to ask ESTJ to stop tidying my desk or I won't find anything :)
Thanks Alfreda ENTP!
Many thanks, Alf. I'm finishing an article and writing a book so it's just me - but on the other hand, a really useful thing for me to do is to give work to colleagues for feedback. I've got lovely colleagues who give very insightful comments. But of course I procrastinate on doing that until it's too near the publication deadline to get feedback. Sigh.
Am fascinated by the MB angle. I'm ENFP which I think is about the worst combination of all when it comes to finishing off and tidying up loose ends. My wonderful ISTJ partner is great at proof reading, though! (Or is he INTJ? The test drives him nuts but I've managed to get him to do it twice and once he was ISTJ, only 1% into S, then the second time he was INTJ, only 1% into N! A real balance there).
Isn't it a bit noisy working with all those other Es? I love working with Is! Hm, fear that might be a bit of a Must-Be-Centre-of-Attention thing...
Very best of luck with your project,
Don't worry about whether you're a better or worse procrastinator than someone else. If you want to improve, that's all that matters.
This article is based on work by a researcher who studied university instructors on a tenure track who needed to publish but procrastinated. Hope it helps:
Tips for Getting Schoolwork or Writing Done
Thank you pro
Thank you! I must say that it's somehow very good to see these tips written down. Ironically a lot of them are things I recommend to my procrastinating students and then don't do myself!
The motivation to write as far as career is concerned is a bit different in the UK from the US. A lecturer (= the UK English word for Professor; we do have professors, but that just means the top end of the salary scale) could get a permanent contract in her first job. That's not quite as secure as tenure, as a UK university can always sack you! But once you're in a job that's not a short-term contract there's no Tenure Track to worry about. Instead there's the 7-yearly research assessment exercise, to which one has to submit one's publications. If you're not 'good enough' to be entered, your university might demote you to a teaching-and-admin only contract which would mean no time for research, no money for conferences and a mighty blow to the professional self-esteem! So the need to publish is there for the whole of your career. Oddly, I think if I'd had to go through a Tenure Track process I'd have found it quite motivating as it would feel like a reward rather than a punishment. I'd rather work for something than work in order not to have something taken away.
But the ideal is always to be working for the love of the research!