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Chronic Procrastination.

AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
edited September 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi there. I'm procrastinating by writing this post.

So if there is one constant in my mind, it is my procrastination. I hesitate to do anything. For instance, right now I'm sitting at home, afraid to go to my friends' house to GM a game because instead of writing down hard and fast rules and ideas I just have nebulous things in my head. Similarly, and MUCH more importantly, I've been putting off writing a resume and putting out applications for a full time job, with my financial aid payments looming in a couple months.

Now before anyone says "well stop procrastinating (idiot)," keep in mind that my mind works on a feedback loop kind of system. I constantly think about the outcomes and possible elements that go on with my life. I have a fairly good idea how I want my game today to go, for instance. I just haven't committed it to paper. This is hurt by the fact that I spend most of my time staring at a computer while my mind works, or otherwise multi-tasking.

Another hit on this comes with my ability to improvise. Because I spend so long planning, when it comes to crunch time I'm able to pull off insane feats. For instance, my graduation paper to get my Bachelor's degree was written in 4 days (including 3 hours to write 18 pages), when most people took 1-2 months. I got an A on it. This kind of shit happens all the time -- One of my teachers once said I was the only guy he ever knew who could never turn in a single piece of homework and still get an A on every test.


I hate living like this, though. If people know me, they know this is a pretty constant complaint. I hesitate on buying shoes or clothes that I need, or even buying food that isn't instant fast food shit. I want to learn to cook but i'm too afraid of screwing it up. I want to exercise, but I can never bring myself to go to the gym. And as I stress more over what I'm procrastinating over as well as the fact that I'm procrastinating itself, my blood pressure rises, my chest kind of hurts, my stomach does somersaults, and I get headaches. In other words, the stress manifests and fucks me.

I used to think a lot of this was self esteem. Now while that is a component, lately a weird thing has been happening: My players in my RPG keep telling me how excellent I am, how it is one of the best games they've been in.. And that only raises my expectations, making it harder for me to function as I try to live up to that high praise. I get this at work a lot lately -- I act like a supervisor without the attached pay because all my bosses put so much trust in me. Now in the past I've been on generic prozac, but it didn't seem to do anything. I really don't know if it is medical or not.


I guess what I'm saying is... IS there any way to help alleviate this? Just small steps would help, or maybe just people encouraging me. I think a lot of my problem stems from that.. I get called an attention whore on some forums, which bugs the crap out of me and makes me feel worse. I'm not trying for that at all.. I'm just looking for help.


Oh, I should mention one of the biggest "procrastination" issues I'm having right now: I want a girlfriend, but I have no fucking clue how to find the right person, if that is even possible, but it's not like I'm even looking -- despite my mom pressuring me to. I want to be in a relationship, I want to have kids, but I feel like I'm getting too old for that to happen. In other words, I feel like I'm procrastinating my life away.

(okay, yeah, there really isn't much anyone can help with in this post, and I should be putting it into a blog or emo thingy or something, but hey. I needed to get this off my chest.)

Athenor on
fCew0YJ.jpg
Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471

Posts

  • cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Businessman!Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    To do lists. Even if it's small things, you get a sense of accomplishment because you put down that you were going to do X and X was achieved. Baby steps.

    I'm basically you, but younger. How old are you, btw?

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    I pronounce it bee-log. Most recent entry: VIDEO GAMES: GUNPOINT, OR A SCIENTIFIC STUDY ON WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GLASS MEETS TROUSERS.
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  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    To do lists. Even if it's small things, you get a sense of accomplishment because you put down that you were going to do X and X was achieved. Baby steps.

    I'm basically you, but younger. How old are you, btw?

    27. My 10 year reunion is coming up next year. Quite a few of my friends are married, have real jobs, are successful.. I am not looking forward to it.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • .Tripwire..Tripwire. Firman Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Do you only have trouble starting tasks, or is it also a significant battle to carry them out to completion? How likely are you to adhere to a prioritized To Do list - will you end up just procrastinating things further by getting caught up in the listmaking and rationalizing new projects that perpetually interfere and pile up? If these sorts of issues with focus are strikingly familiar to you, it's possible an attention deficit disorder is involved.

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  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    .Tripwire. wrote: »
    Do you only have trouble starting tasks, or is it also a significant battle to carry them out to completion? How likely are you to adhere to a prioritized To Do list - will you end up just procrastinating things further by getting caught up in the listmaking and rationalizing new projects that perpetually interfere and pile up? If these sorts of issues with focus are strikingly familiar to you, it's possible an attention deficit order is involved.

    That pretty much describes it to a T. I was diagnosed ADD back in middle school, but the pills didn't seem to do anything and due to being upset over taking them as well as some other factors I can't remember I stopped taking them my sophomore year of High School. The last psychiatrist I talked to, about a year and a half ago now, suspected it was still present but the depression was overwhelming and amplifying it.

    I've often wondered if I should start taking it again, but right now I don't have anything like health insurance or any way to get ahold of anything, even low-dose.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    do you drink a lot of coffee? caffeine makes me want to do things, so if i have a couple of coffees (and make sure all my browser windows are closed) with the intention of completing some task, usually i'll get it done

    the browser thing is pretty important though. as a writer it never works because i rely on online resources a lot, but you might even think about unplugging your modem just to make sure you're not going to drift back to forums and news sites, squandering your time

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  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    do you drink a lot of coffee? caffeine makes me want to do things, so if i have a couple of coffees (and make sure all my browser windows are closed) with the intention of completing some task, usually i'll get it done

    the browser thing is pretty important though. as a writer it never works because i rely on online resources a lot, but you might even think about unplugging your modem just to make sure you're not going to drift back to forums and news sites, squandering your time

    I generally only have about 1-2 sodas a day, typically a bottle of Jones soda. When I go out to McDonalds (I know it's bad, but it is cheap) I get a sweet tea, light ice. I have had a lot of Mountain Dew in the last 48 hours, which I know screws me up but I needed to stay awake.

    Unplugging is probably the hardest part. Also, as weird as it sounds, I don't have a good desk/chair to sit at and just work. Never have.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • ANTVGM64ANTVGM64 Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Do you only have trouble starting tasks, or is it also a significant battle to carry them out to completion? How likely are you to adhere to a prioritized To Do list - will you end up just procrastinating things further by getting caught up in the listmaking and rationalizing new projects that perpetually interfere and pile up? If these sorts of issues with focus are strikingly familiar to you, it's possible an attention deficit disorder is involved.

    How does one go about seeking treatment for something like this? Just asking a doctor?

  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Do you workout? It would help.

    "Maybe we're here to eat the sandwich." -- Joe Rogan
  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • ascannerlightlyascannerlightly Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote:
    27. My 10 year reunion is coming up next year. .... I am not looking forward to it.
    easy solution: don't go.

    armedroberty.jpg
  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote:
    27. My 10 year reunion is coming up next year. .... I am not looking forward to it.
    easy solution: don't go.

    To this day I feel guilty about not going to Prom, even when I realize I hated most of the people in High School. And there are a handful of people I'd actually like to see, although admittedly I've talked to them through facebook lately.

    It's more the mental stigma. Hey, look, I'm almost 28 and have next to nothing to show for my life, save for my degree in English and broad spectrum of skills and a few friends. I don't even own a car right now (which isn't helping things, for the record. Stupid busses not running on Sundays).

    Anyway, that's kind of how the feedback loop works. I start listing off all the negatives about my life, and the positives don't seem to outweigh them.

    Edit: I also want to apologize for sounding whiny/contrarian. I'm just kind of letting it all out here, and while it is a bit selfish, I'm trying to use up all my excuses to help make them seem stupid and hollow in my mind. Sometimes it works.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    You don't need much time, really. There's too much culture built around it. Every day before you shower, do some situps, do some pushups, do some bodyweight squats, stretch out. Little steps you will actually take are way more important than dreaming up some perfect program you won't do, or adding new errands to your life with gyms and classes. I personally find I sleep so much better and have so much more focus when I workout I don't miss the time it takes.

    "Maybe we're here to eat the sandwich." -- Joe Rogan
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    this is sounding less and less like a thread about procrastination

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  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    this is sounding less and less like a thread about procrastination

    ??

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    Athenor wrote:
    27. My 10 year reunion is coming up next year. .... I am not looking forward to it.
    easy solution: don't go.

    To this day I feel guilty about not going to Prom, even when I realize I hated most of the people in High School. And there are a handful of people I'd actually like to see, although admittedly I've talked to them through facebook lately.

    It's more the mental stigma. Hey, look, I'm almost 28 and have next to nothing to show for my life, save for my degree in English and broad spectrum of skills and a few friends. I don't even own a car right now (which isn't helping things, for the record. Stupid busses not running on Sundays).

    Anyway, that's kind of how the feedback loop works. I start listing off all the negatives about my life, and the positives don't seem to outweigh them.

    Edit: I also want to apologize for sounding whiny/contrarian. I'm just kind of letting it all out here, and while it is a bit selfish, I'm trying to use up all my excuses to help make them seem stupid and hollow in my mind. Sometimes it works.

    I personally think depression comes from a lack of congruence. Part of you thinks you're better than your station, part of you thinks your station isn't bad enough. You break this dissonance by discarding the notion of a station and working on yourself.

    This doesn't mean running straight off and doing what makes you happy, in a "join the circus" sense, it means learning to deal with the world and becoming autonomous. It also means learning not to wish away time. Some problems - weight, finances, etc - they can't be fixed over night. But if you can say, "I did something to work on that today and I made some progress" it helps you salvage the rest of your day. Avoid putting your problems in a pile and saying someday I will tackle the pile, and after that when the pile is gone I will do the things I want to do.

    Because in the words of one Creedence Clearwater Revivial, someday never comes.

    "Maybe we're here to eat the sandwich." -- Joe Rogan
  • KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    For a procrastinator, you seem to be obsessively checking this thread and replying to everyone. You've probably already thought about all of the questions people will ask you in the thread and what the answer would be.

    So go for a jog. Right now. And no, you can't disagree with me. You better not even reply to this.

    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    this is sounding less and less like a thread about procrastination

    ??
    Hey, look, I'm almost 28 and have next to nothing to show for my life,
    I start listing off all the negatives about my life, and the positives don't seem to outweigh them.

    that's not a healthy mindset to have, and unless you want to put a bandaid over a knife wound, you should seriously be asking questions about your mental health

    sig_zps00ca6d07.jpg
  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Kipling wrote: »
    Athenor wrote: »
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    For a procrastinator, you seem to be obsessively checking this thread and replying to everyone. You've probably already thought about all of the questions people will ask you in the thread and what the answer would be.

    So go for a jog. Right now. And no, you can't disagree with me. You better not even reply to this.

    I took a shower after posting this. I really don't want to take another one.


    You're right. I'm trying to use the internet echo chamber effect to help me get this out, which is a bit false, but I've admitted that a couple times already. I'm also waiting for my blasted friends to try and get in touch with me, as my cell phone is dead, thus my sitting at the computer. I really do want to go exercise right now, but that would put me out of where I can communicate. I know that is weak though.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Athenor wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    this is sounding less and less like a thread about procrastination

    ??
    Hey, look, I'm almost 28 and have next to nothing to show for my life,
    I start listing off all the negatives about my life, and the positives don't seem to outweigh them.

    that's not a healthy mindset to have, and unless you want to put a bandaid over a knife wound, you should seriously be asking questions about your mental health

    I'm too afraid of death to go down that path.

    No, seriously. I described my thoughts on death to my psychiatrist and he suspected I had a bit of an OCD issue with it.


    ... okay, damnit, I'm finding my cell phone charger and then I'm gonna go walk/jog or something. I really do need to get out of here.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    You dont smoke pot do you?

    Cause if you do... cut back or stop.

  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Al_wat wrote: »
    You dont smoke pot do you?

    Cause if you do... cut back or stop.

    I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I don't even want to think about what that'd do to me.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    Kipling wrote: »
    Athenor wrote: »
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    For a procrastinator, you seem to be obsessively checking this thread and replying to everyone. You've probably already thought about all of the questions people will ask you in the thread and what the answer would be.

    So go for a jog. Right now. And no, you can't disagree with me. You better not even reply to this.

    I took a shower after posting this. I really don't want to take another one.


    You're right. I'm trying to use the internet echo chamber effect to help me get this out, which is a bit false, but I've admitted that a couple times already. I'm also waiting for my blasted friends to try and get in touch with me, as my cell phone is dead, thus my sitting at the computer. I really do want to go exercise right now, but that would put me out of where I can communicate. I know that is weak though.

    If you're supposed to be somewhere, you should either go there or cancel. You took on an obligation and just leaving people you call friends waiting on you isn't cool.

    "Maybe we're here to eat the sandwich." -- Joe Rogan
  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    do you drink a lot of coffee? caffeine makes me want to do things, so if i have a couple of coffees (and make sure all my browser windows are closed) with the intention of completing some task, usually i'll get it done

    the browser thing is pretty important though. as a writer it never works because i rely on online resources a lot, but you might even think about unplugging your modem just to make sure you're not going to drift back to forums and news sites, squandering your time

    I generally only have about 1-2 sodas a day, typically a bottle of Jones soda. When I go out to McDonalds (I know it's bad, but it is cheap) I get a sweet tea, light ice. I have had a lot of Mountain Dew in the last 48 hours, which I know screws me up but I needed to stay awake.

    Unplugging is probably the hardest part. Also, as weird as it sounds, I don't have a good desk/chair to sit at and just work. Never have.

    You should cut out the McDonalds and the soda completely.

  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Kipling wrote: »
    Athenor wrote: »
    Do you workout? It would help.

    See note about procrastination. I've actually thought about doing it today or in the last few days. It would be a good time as I have a bit of time off work.

    For a procrastinator, you seem to be obsessively checking this thread and replying to everyone. You've probably already thought about all of the questions people will ask you in the thread and what the answer would be.

    So go for a jog. Right now. And no, you can't disagree with me. You better not even reply to this.

    Heh, I certainly have my own claim to being a procrastinator, and I also maddeningly check these forums. I consider it a two-parter, its my own tendency to procrastinate, and part addiction to the forums and/or the constant availability of tiny bits of updated news or things on the web.

    I wouldn't say that checking the forums all the time is in any way a proof against being a procrastinator, if that's what you were implying.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    This sounds more like anxiety issues with procrastination as the outcome of the anxiety. What you need to do is get some therapy. You're engaging in some hard core analysis-paralysis, and therapy of some kind should be able to help get you over that.

    You're 27 not 77. There is still time for you to attain the goals you want in your life. But you need some help, and talking to your doctor is probably the first step to engage with getting the advice of a mental health professional.

  • ChenChen Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I have nothing useful to say except to say that you are not alone. I'm still trying to obtain my bachelor degree while all of my college friends are either already working or are in the middle of a master course.

    The first step to a happier life is to live more healthy. It won't do you any good if your body is struggling to do the most basic exercise. Cutting off fast food, soda, basically anything with lots of calories would be a good starting point. Start cooking your own meals. Don't worry, your house won't burn down.

    Hitting up the gym is an excellent idea. However, if you don't feel like driving all the way to the gym, good old fashioned jogging or cycling is a good way to work out your leg muscles and improve stamina. Do this every 2-3 days for an hour or so until you can recover in a day. Consider picking up a sport while you're at it.

    When your health picks up, you'll have more confidence to, say, meet girls and stuff. I make it sound easy, but it's really that simple.

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  • IogaIoga Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Procrastination is essentially perfectionism gone awry.

    In your mind you are making mundane tasks into giant undertakings because a) You should have done them a while ago and the deadline is looming or b) Your self-worth is constantly on the line in your own mind when you're attempting to accomplish these tasks.

    For example, when it comes to writing a resume it's really a pretty simple task. Pick a template, fill in the appropriate data in a concise yet appealing manner. That's all it is. But attached to it in your head are your need for a job, your worries about other people judging you and your own dissatisfaction with how things are going, etc.

    It's like walking across a gap on a 2x4. These tasks are really very simple and not risky - say walking a 2x4 at 3 feet in height. But in your mind, it's 20 or 30 feet high because of the anxiety you attach to it. Thus you procrastinate to avoid the stress of possibly failing. In the end, it' just a stress avoidance technique.

    As others have said, make lists and STICK TO THEM. This requires discipline sometimes, but it's well worth it. Oftentimes you have to understand that while some projects certainly are formidable the parts that make them up are not.

    Remove distractions if you can, but do your best to remember that the task you are doing is just that - a simple task. Not a test of your self-worth or anything.
    I want a girlfriend, but I have no fucking clue how to find the right person, if that is even possible, but it's not like I'm even looking -- despite my mom pressuring me to. I want to be in a relationship, I want to have kids, but I feel like I'm getting too old for that to happen. In other words, I feel like I'm procrastinating my life away.

    There is no right person, there are just people. There's not much "how" about it. You just live your life and meet people. And there probably isn't one "right" person despite what society tells us - some people you would be happy with, some you wouldn't. It always helps to be clean, fit, self-confident, and nice-smelling as much as possible however. More flies with honey and all that.

  • virgilsammsvirgilsamms Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    ...too afraid of screwing it up.

    As Ioga said, this sounds like procrastination because of perfectionism. A fear of the perfect picture in your head not being possible to bring to reality. It's like no matter what you try to do, it will feel like failing because it wont reach your expectations. Therefore it's easier to not start anything.

    The thing is, it sounds like when you actually do make things happen, they are usually excellent, like the grades and the DMing. So cut yourself some slack, sometimes good enough is just fine. One thing I find is that once I start something, the battle is won - I look up an hour later and have actually accomplished something. Try telling yourself you'll spend just five or ten minutes on something and then have a break. Sometimes even five will be a struggle, other times it will be the kick start you need.

    Something I like to remember is that, no matter how amazing something seems in your head, the imperfect reality is *always* better than the the intangible "perfect" imagining.

    This is true when it comes to significant others too, you may need to be careful that you don't dismiss awesome reality because it doesn't match up to your perfect expections. So maybe you need to dive in and see what happens, give things a chance.

    Twenty seven isn't too old either, you've got plenty of time.

  • DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Corvus wrote: »
    This sounds more like anxiety issues with procrastination as the outcome of the anxiety. What you need to do is get some therapy. You're engaging in some hard core analysis-paralysis, and therapy of some kind should be able to help get you over that.

    This was my thought almost immediately, mainly because I'm a procrastinator myself and have been for the better portion of my life. And with the OP's subsequent post, it's basically confirmed that this is probably stemming from an underlying anxiety issue.

    For me, I get into a state where I keep imagine the worst that things could possibly be. What's the worst outcome of everything? And it becomes paralyzing, until I get myself to realize that I'm imagining it. It's a self-defense mechanism, preparing for the worst. But when you really look at it, most the time the worst doesn't happen unless you make it happen. The process of thinking about the worst isn't always that dramatic either, but can sneak into the thought process in a subtle way, then get caught in a feedback loop. At least, that's my take on it, and I'm not a mental health professional. Those kind of issues are best discussed with someone with more expertise. I'm just relating personal experience.

    That's being said, I will concur that cutting out the fast food, sodas, and sugary drinks and getting a little activity is definitely good, and not just for your physical health. You'd be surprised how much that stuff can affect your mental well-being. I cut that stuff out of my diet several years ago and focused on eating food from the produce section for the most part, and stuff without additives and all that several years ago. While it felt weird and actually somewhat unpleasant at first, within about a week or two it felt like mental cobwebs began to clear that I didn't even know were there until they were gone. That stuff does affect your mind.

  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Hey, just a follow up.

    Yeah, it sounds like some of my issues are creeping back up to the forefront. So I've taken some steps.

    First, I did go ahead and talk to my players about my anxiety. They all agreed that giving me a break as a GM would probably be best, so my game's on indefinite hold for the moment. The plan is to get me some time actually playing in another game and see if it recharges my batteries. 6 months straight GM'ing is tough, considering I haven't done that much in my entire life.

    Second, just about an hour ago I filled out my resume with Monster. Holy shit is it crude, but that's at least the first step, right? I just need to ask people if I can use them as references, get someone to look over it and clean it up, and then find some jobs to post it to. Also, it looks like the job I kinda sorta wanted has closed up, so I'll be looking around elsewhere.

    fCew0YJ.jpg
    Steam & NNID - Athenor // 3DS: 3883-5283-0471
  • IogaIoga Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Athenor wrote: »
    Also, it looks like the job I kinda sorta wanted has closed up, so I'll be looking around elsewhere.

    This circumstance is something that can help - try and remember when you have an opportunity that if you don't pick up the ball and run with it NOW someone else will. It happens alot when you're looking for work and you go "Oh, I can apply tomorrow."

  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I am like you.

    Here is some stuff that works for me.

    1. Drink good coffee. I have a feeling that this works for me as much from ritual as the actual drug content. When I want to write, or work or whatever, I do one of two things.

    a. Go to a nice coffee shop with an internet connection. Many have 2-hour internet access cards. The caffeine, the setting, and the time limit all seem to combine to spur me into action and I get a lot done. I made a habit of going to a coffee shop every day before work for a while.

    b. Buy whole bean coffee, grind it, make it at home, and then sit down at a desk or in a chair for two hours and work. I think it is important to be picky about the quality of coffee because (1) good coffee is good, and (2) enjoying the drink trains your brain to have positive feedback for the entire experience of being productive that goes along with the coffee. (You don't need a fancy coffee maker; just get a french press or a manual drip funnel; Cook's Illustrated says these make better coffee anyway.)

    c. Do one of these things every day or as close to every day as you can manage. Again, ritual is important.

    2. Stop giving a shit about the quality of your output. I agree with whoever up there said that procrastination is a mutation of perfectionism. That is the main reason I hesitate. You just have to say to yourself firmly that you don't care if it sucks. This especially applies to your resume and your job search in general. Job searches are probability functions.

    3. Do National Novel Writing Month. You said you're an English major so you probably know how to write. I always give this advice, but only because I basically owe much of my own happiness to Nanowrimo (it's how I met my fiancée!) That took three years of doing Nanowrimo, so don't expect an instant girlfriend, but it is one of the best ways for nerds to meet other nerds.

    And writing in your spare time might help your feelings of not having accomplished anything. Even if nobody ever reads your writing, you'll still have written something and you'll still improve as a writer as you continually practice. It's also "something to do" as opposed to procrastination.

  • PotatoNinjaPotatoNinja Fake Gamer Goat Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    For exercise in particular, and many other "should do but keep putting off" activities, remember that the human brain is generally kind of wired to reward immediate pleasure over long-term gratification, so "just suck it up and lift weights / write / apply / be useful" is rarely useful advice. If "suck it up and be awesome" was useful advice, psychiatrists would be unemployed and America would be a nation of bodybuilders.

    Aaaanyways, with that in mind, if you know you should do something but keep putting it off, try to find out what psychological triggers are holding you back and cheat around them. For exercise I recommend placing yourself in a position where you are obligated to work out. Work out buddies / partners are ideal because "I'm feeling iffy, I'll go to the gym tomorrow" is a very easy path to take, whereas "I'm feeling iffy, I'll skip my gym appointment with [insert friend] and get bitched out about it." is not.

    Additionally, it may be easier to place yourself in a position to act responsibly instead of trying to act responsibly. By that I mean things like packing your gym clothes the night before (so when you're deciding to go to the gym or not, your decision is "pick up bag and go" instead of "find all the stuff I need, pack it, go.") Businesses make marketing techniques a billion-dollar industry, cheat and steal some of their secrets to use to your own benefit. Having trouble cooking? Keep your kitchen clean and organized. Trouble applying for jobs? Put every job search site / service you use as an easy bookmark or homepage. By mitigating or removing additional steps towards a healthy activity, you can make it much easier to follow through.

    Basically, combine easy access to responsible behavior with imposing obligations for responsible behavior. Try to be aware of when you work well and when you don't. Seemingly unrelated details such as sleep deprivation, cleanliness, depression, weight problems, dietary deficiencies or exposure to natural light can play significant influences on your decision-making and motivation. Is it easier to get work done if your home is clean? If you wake up before 8:00 a.m.? After you hit the gym? After a big meal?

    Look at what you want to do, all the reasons you have not to do it, and start picking them off one by one.

    Also, if procrastination is becoming a serious, life-damaging problem and none of the advice you're getting helps, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Some people have completely real, chemical imbalances that cause depression or a loss-of-focus in life and all the "lift yerself up by your bootstraps!" in the world isn't going to change that. Something to consider if nothing else works.

    Two goats enter, one car leaves
  • EskimoDaveEskimoDave Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I just want to say that I am 100% like your description. I've kinda wanted to make a post like this but, obviously, I never got around to it. You did a better job than I would have done anyways.

    Off to read the replies. I just wanted to give my support and thanks first.

  • Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Athenor, as a fellow genius procrastinator, I offer you this:

    The Commitment List - evolution of the to-do list.

    What the hell is the difference, you ask?

    To-do lists generally have everything on there that you want/should/need to get done on any given day/week/month/lifetime.

    Commitment lists, on the other hand, only contain things that you will get done, that day. You cannot let yourself go to sleep before finishing the items on your commitment list.

    You start off small and simple. In the morning, write down just a few things that you know you will be able to accomplish that day. If you're as bad as I was, this is how your list may look at first:

    My Commitment List for <date>
    1. Brush teeth
    2. Comb hair
    3. Do a load of laundry

    You do not put anything on your list that you won't be able to commit to finishing that day. Once it's on the list, it has to be done - so that's why you start small, and build it up. As you get used to using the list, you can start adding things or making them more complex. I recommend never making the list too long (more than ten items) - you can drop the simpler stuff as needed. Drop "brush teeth" and add "write two pages for my new campaign", for instance. The more specific you can be, the better - poorly defined entries can lead to you subconsciously sabotaging the task and not getting done what you set out to do.

    It might look silly, however I can tell you from personal experience that it is a nice little boost. "awesome, I got this shit done that I said I'd do!" can feel pretty good when you're stuck in a spiral of "fuck, look what I didn't do again".

  • Foolish ChaosFoolish Chaos Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I also kinda fit your description, and I have found that working out really has been helping. Luckily, attending my fencing class (surprisingly more physically demanding than I would have thought) is necessary for me to still have health care (my parents plan works until I'm 18, then I need to be a full time student to receive it), so I can't just put it off like I used to.

    Try finding some way to exercise which is mandatory. Or at least in your mind. Just attending a regular class might work, even if you don't technically need it for something.

    I find that another persons time dates feel more "real" than any of that I make for myself. If my friends are planning a get together at 5pm, I am far more likely to do that than some "i'll do the dishes at 6pm" deal.

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