In this article, we define what it means to procrastinate, explore different types of procrastinating, and prepare ourselves to become Master Active Procrastinators.
I know I procrastinate. But what does that really mean?
I just wrote a 50,220-word story in one month.
And while it was a very satisfying, rewarding experience in itself, I actually learned something incredibly valuable about myself during the process, that didn’t have anything to do with writing a novel. On the contrary, it had to do with trying not to write the novel. This new-found insight into the depths of my own psyche will come in very handy for the rest of my life. So what did I learn, you ask? I will share my wisdom with you. It’s all about avoidance, and how you employ it.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary App defines the word PROCRASTINATE this way:
To be slow or late about doing something that should be done; to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.
Well, I can’t argue with that. Nor would I want to. Or, maybe I’d argue with it, but I’ll do it tomorrow…
Active vs. Passive Procrastination
The dictionary definition above applies to Simple Procrastination. Or as I like to call it, Passive Procrastination. Anyone can do THAT, pfffft. Spending an hour on FaceBook, Instagram or HuffPost is for amateurs. Turning on the TV and getting lost somewhere between E! and SyFy is for total beginners.
So let’s kick this up a notch and look at what we’ll refer to as Active Procrastination.
I would define Active Procrastination this way:
Trying to find things to do, that aren’t that one thing that you’re supposed to be doing, so that you don’t have to do that one thing you’re supposed to be doing, but at least you’re doing things that count as “productive” so you don’t have to feel as guilty about not doing that one thing that you should be doing.
This is where things get interesting, and this is where I lived during National Novel Writing Month. In fact, I’d go so far as to call myself a Master Active Procrastinator. Or, you guessed it, a MAP. (Because I like TLAs*).
A Master Procrastinator takes plain old boring procrastination to a whole new level.
The One Procrastinative Thing
Not everyone can jump right in at the Master level, I’m sorry to say. You might need to start off getting your feet wet with a little Regular Active Procrastination (RAP) first. You will want to start out by identifying your One Thing.
Before we go any further, it would be helpful to point out that “The One Thing” is actually a really cool book by Gary Keller (of Keller Williams) and Jay Papasan. It’s about finding the One Thing that you could be doing, that would make all other things on your list unnecessary or at the very least, a whole hell of a lot easier. This is NOT what we’re talking about. That method, while very sound, is for people who want to focus solely on productivity. That’s for people who WANT to do that thing, and want help identifying it. The One Thing I’m talking about, is that thing that you’re supposed to be doing, but DON’T WANT TO. It is for the Rest of Us. Let’s call it the One Procrastinative Thing (or the OPT). Glad we’ve cleared that up. Let’s continue.
As mentioned, often times there is that One Thing you should be doing, that you really, really, aren’t wanting to do. There may also be those occasions when you have what might feel like a billion One Things on your list, and you don’t feel like doing any of them – but that’s another form of procrastination (which is known as Overwhelm Avoidance Procrastination, or, you know – OAP) and the topic of a separate series. For today, let’s stick with the One Thing.
Here’s how to identify that One Thing that you really just don’t want to be doing, in case it’s not quite clear, or you feel there may be multiple One Things and need to pick one. Take out a piece of paper, and write a catchy title at the top of the page, along with your name, the date, and if you’re very thorough, your location as well as the outside temperature and weather conditions – depending on how much time you have to procrastinate). Now you’re ready to start your list.
First, list out all the things you should be doing, or need to get done. Use whatever timeframe works best for you – is that things you should do today, this week, this month? Whatever. Now, rank them in order of “ugh level” – put a little number ONE next to the thing makes you go “ugh” the loudest. Continue to rank everything until each item has a number next to it.
And then, TA-DA! You’ve found your OPT. That thing with the number ONE next to it is what you’re going to build your procrastination on.
Now simply go do everything else on your list. You have successfully managed to Actively Procrastinate, and actually got sh*t done without doing that other thing you didn’t want to do, anyway.
And this, friends, is how you start learning how to procrastinate. You’re welcome.
Never get caught with your procrastinative pants down – get your very own How to Procrastinate Worksheet #1 right here!
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Join us for Part 2 of “How to Procrastinate,” coming later this week! We will be exploring different ways to Actively Procrastinate, working towards our MAP status, taking a quick look at Procrastination Through History, and learning to identify what our Optimal Procrastination Level (OPL) is…
*TLA is the Three Letter Acronym for, you guessed it – Three Letter Acronym.