I am so darn good at procrastinating. Take, for example, what I have done since typing the first to sentence of this post. I got up and made tea, watched a bit of a Star Trek: TNG with Chris, replied to a text message from Alex, checked Twitter and Facebook including a group I participate in, drank tea and ate a packet of Lance Toast Chee. To make it worse, I went and found the links to insert in the above sentence rather than finishing the post first. I managed to do so with minimal web surfing, only stopping to read the latest in my Twitter feed and click the “Like” buttons on the Lance website. Who doesn’t like oddly named crackers?
There is a point to explaining all those little tasks which kept me from writing. Writing, particularly blogging, is something I enjoy. When the words are flowing in full screen mode, it is a delight to watch the blank space fill up. As the length of my posts shows, I am seldom at a loss for words once I get going. While no writer, or artist of any kind, is ever totally without apprehension at calling a piece finished, I’m relatively satisfied with the completed product when I hit publish. I am, essentially, delaying and denying myself a great source of pleasure and positive feelings.
Blogging, is, of course, not the only thing I put off in impressive feats of procrastination. Housework, work-work, making doctors appointments, shaving my legs, and even going to bed at night. I am, if I do say so myself, a world class procrastinator.
I am enabled by a world more filled with distractions than ever. Of the things I did during the writing of the first paragraph, most of them include technology not available in my days as a young procrastinator. Even worse, I count all of the things I did as valid things to do. Facebook and Twitter, text messages and Netflix are all important parts of my life both for entertainment and keeping up with friends and family. Social networking is an aspect of blogging even because otherwise I’m talking to no one. See, the other part of procrastination at which I excel is justifying my stalling tactics.
My skill at procrastination is never far from my mind. At the end of the day, I often wish I’d accomplished more. I suspect modern life with endless revolving must-do and want-to-do lists makes the feeling common. Still, I know it must be possible to make better use of my time.
I was reminded of an article I’d read in Psychology Today when Renee commented on a quote I used in my post about starting a new diet. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is one of my favorite principals from The Happiness Project. (By the way, Kate, I think I’ll be ordering you a new copy rather than returning the one you lent. Not today, but I promise not to put it off forever.) The article on the link between procrastination and perfectionism could have been a case study in my worst traits.
In a nutshell, the perfectionist fears falling to meet her own impossibly high standards, therefore avoids the task and risk of failure. See why “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is so important?
Applying the principle back to blogging, I’ve read thousands of blog posts in my years in the blogging community. Some so good I feel I’d never live up. Some so bad I fear even one person thinks as poorly of my writing as I do of theirs. I don’t worry so much, for example, about spelling (thanks to spell check) or grammar (I’ve got this whole English thing down). I worry more about coming off as boring. Or too wordy. If I don’t write the post, it can’t suck. If I don’t blog at all, I don’t have to judge myself by my standards of how I ought to be as a blogger. Obviously, with writing, the judgement is subjective. I want to be interesting to people I find interesting. I want to make my ideas clear. I try, at my best moments, to make sure enough of me comes through what I write so people who like me as a person, in real life or online, will also like my posts.
In the name of both blogging and fighting those perfectionism-procrastination tenancies, I have my next post planned as a sort of live blog of a procrastination test from Psychology Today as my next post complete with commentary. The original plan had been to include it in this post and while I’ve no intention to tackle my problem (if it’s a problem) with overly long posts today, even I’m hesitant to push past a thousand words.
Ironically, one of my favorite ways to dink around on the internet instead of doing whatever it is I ought to be doing is taking quizzes. Oh, Blogthings, how you get me every time. Hopefully, the test is more revealing than discovering what flavor ice cream I am.
And, hopefully, I won’t put off doing it. As they say, stay tuned to find out.