Hello, my name is Sam and I am a functioning procrastinator

Managing procrastination habits and getting the important things done

I am a functioning procrastinator. So I set myself goals in order to get things done. Or at least I will just as soon as I’ve checked out my twitter notifications…

Don’t judge me. I’m not alone in this. Sources confirm lots of us are procrastinators. Typically anywhere from 20% — 80%. Maybe you’re one. I mean, you’re reading this aren’t you?

By absorbing Tim Urban’s witty and insightful Procrastination Matrix (a twist on the Eisenhower Important/Urgent Matrix), and taking a bit of honest reflection time, I diagnosed myself as a successtinator.

After spending most of my life feeling unable to maximize myself, since starting Wait But Why a year and a half ago, I’ve written over 250,000 words — the equivalent of 1,000 book pages — and what I’m doing really matters to me. For the first time, the satisfaction of accomplishment doesn’t come along with a twinge of guilt or emptiness or despair. I’ve done it! I’m a doer.

Not quite.

Tim Urban, designer and author of The Procrastination Matrix

Credit: Tim Urban http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/03/procrastination-matrix.html

Left to my own devices and habits, the matrix suggests I’ll do what seems important and urgent, or things that aren’t important at all. I’ll be busy and feel productive, constantly.

Which is a shame for successinators like me, especially when I consider that most really important things aren’t urgent at all. Like spending time with the people you love, making people’s lives better, and improving the substance and prospects of your own life.

This absolutely sucks. It’s rubbish. It’s tiring & thankless. Booo to bad habits.

So here are a few things that help me to manage my condition at the moment. In no particular order:

  • Switch off all notifications most of the time – it felt wrong at first, like I would be disappointing people or holding up the whole world. In reality, no-one has complained (yet!), I’m keeping focus, and get a lot more of what I intended to do done each day.
  • Review today’s progress and write down 9 things I’ll do tomorrow –after trying out a few systems I’ve gone for lo-fidelity and use a pen and journal: the Strikethru system. It compliments other digital task tools like Todoist, Trello and Jira.
  • Set goals for the next 100 days – working towards goals works for me, whether it’s to train for marathons, run business plans or learn the piano. Beating goals is where my competitive nature plays best.
  • Share plans and progress with people who will be impacted by them – It can lead to questions like ‘so, how are you getting on with xxx’ or ‘can’t want for xxx to be finished’. Social media is good for this; face to face is even better. Working out loud works.

And after dipping my toe in a few times over the years, I’m trying out the Pomodoro technique again. It’s helping. I don’t feel ‘busy’ any more. I still feel productive. And I’m getting to the important stuff, both urgent and not urgent. Which is absolutely the best. Hooray 🙂

What have you done to manage your procrastination or improve bad habits? Did it work? Share your stories, good or bad, below. Unless you‘ve got other things to be doing?

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