The first confession is that I’m not a former procrastinator; I’m actually avoiding work right now. Aaron Burr would be so proud.
One of my favorite ways to procrastinate is to read articles about why I shouldn’t and studies on how to overcome it. I also clean, which is my husband’s favorite way for me to postpone projects. I’m so predictable, in fact, that after eight years of marriage he no longer states, “I really appreciate your help;” instead, he asks, “So, what do you have due tomorrow?”
The answer to that question currently is nothing, but in the next week to two months, I have a graduate portfolio to create, a parent meeting to plan, an edcamp to advertise, and the Relay for Life team that I co-chair has nothing planned for this year. I could be planning lessons for February and March; instead I’m telling you how I’m going to put it off until February and March.
Good news, everyone! That’s actually a coping strategy.
In my pursuit of semi-justifiable ways to kill time, I stumbled across David McRaney’s blog You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self-Delusion (think “Brain Games” but more metacognitive) and his post on Procrastination. As it turns out, acknowledging that you dawdle is a way to deal with it:
Interestingly, … although almost everyone has problems with procrastination, those who recognize and admit their weakness are in a better position to utilize available tools for precommitment and by doing so, help themselves overcome it.
– Dan Ariely, from his book Predictably Irrational
If you fail to believe you will procrastinate or become idealistic about how awesome you are at working hard and managing your time you never develop a strategy for outmaneuvering your own weakness.
By admitting that I’m going to complete a task moments before it’s due, I’m actually setting myself up to complete the task moments before it’s due.
This is great news for my procrastinators’ support group, namely my friends and family who not only drag their feet when doing work but are highly successful at it. I’m talking college students with 4.0 GPAs, successful businessmen, internationally renowned artists, great teachers and preachers… all of whom complete things at the last possible second.
Instead of viewing our procrastinating proclivities as simply a weakness we’ll never overcome, we can view our metacognition as a strength that compensates for our tendencies.
Are you as comforted by this knowledge as I am, or am I still just making excuses? Let me know in the comments!
As for me, I think there are some dishes I could be putting away…