“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” says psychologist

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/26/procrastination-is-an-emoti.html


In a way, it’s a free drug, but in another way, not really.


This isn’t fun so fuck it, do it later.
On the other hand here is this fun and interesting thing to do.




This isn’t fun. It causes pain.
So does putting it off, but it’s slightly less pain right now.


OTOH, there is a school of thought that says it’s not irrational at all. There is a payoff for procrastination, we just don’t want to acknowledge it. Usually it’s fun. We’ve been trained from first grade to believe fun is of secondary importance. So we pretend we don’t know why we’re playing Miniskirt Warriors Unchained instead of folding the laundry - but really, you know exactly why.


As a procrastinator, I thought this was fairly obvious - is this not the accepted view? It’s always definitely had to do with anxiety for me, and I was always aware of that, on some level.


My preferred method of procrastination is reading Boing Boing.

But I’m really going to start working after I read this article.


This article hits home for me… Boingboing is the gaping maw of procrastination.


Yeah, no kidding. I try to check myself before I go off telling people they ought to have already known something, but this one makes me a little angry (or maybe I’m just in a bad mood to begin with, which is why I’m procrastinating by posting messages on the internet).


It is indeed. But some others are worse. I routed reddit to localhost for that reason. The stream of messages there is endless and mostly meaningless. SO not only is it a procrastination fix, it also leaves you even more bored at the end.

But I really should block boingboing as well.

The stupid thing is, if I start working right away, without first checking BB or whatever, I’m happy and productive. It’s not that I don’t like my work, it’s just hard to start. And if I do that (start working first) then I can later check any news site without problems and read just 1 article.

But I’m slowly getting there, and getting better and better at kicking myself awake in the morning. I’ll probably learn it just in time for my retirement :smiley:


Anyone else think “Gee no shit?” I guess maybe it’s not obvious if you never suffer from procrastination.


A little bit, but more often if I do this I’m likely to fail or not be happy with the outcome or I can think of a 1000 ways I’m going to screw it up.


My professional-level procrastination has always seemed like the thinnest veneer on top of my anxiety.


Honestly, this seems like research done by people who have no empathy.


I guess I fall into the “no empathy” category, because the phrase “procrastination is self-harm” hit me like a ton of bricks.


I know that “no empathy” is a dickish way of putting it. It shows that the empathy I’m sure you have was not fully brought to bear on this particular behaviour. Obviously no one can put themselves in the shoes of every other person all the time, especially if they are doing something that impacts us.


I would tend to agree. I’ve never been diagnosed ADD but I definitely feel I’m somewhere in the mix with that stuff. I tend to parallelize a lot of tasks, and enjoy this – although I am learning that other people often operate more serially, and my ability to parallelize a lot of threads at once can be a bit much for them.

So when I need to sit down and write (something long and thoughtful, not a typical bb post of mine, har!) I will put it off until really the last moment. And then I will “enter the zone” and write thousands and thousands of words, essentially in a stream of consciousness mode. And hey, it tends to work.

This really has nothing at all to do with time management. It has to do with finally giving in to a “way of being” that I am certainly capable of, but is not my “natural place to be,” even though once I’m there, I’m pretty good at it. But it’s uncomfortable, I guess you could say. So I tend to avoid that discomfort as long as possible, right up until the point it’s simply not possible to delay any longer. Any yes, I do get my work done. Who knows, maybe for me, I couldn’t even “get into the zone” unless I found it this way.

I did this for I think every paper I ever wrote in school, and it’s also how I’ve tended to approach writing in my professional life. I figure after 25+ years, if it’s working for me, I ought to keep at it. :wink: This actually helps a bit, because I don’t get down on myself like I used to for handling things this way. Which actually makes the eventual act of doing the focused work less stressful.


Well, I suffer some from pretty intense procrastination. It was because it is so obviously apt for my own behavior, and so far out of character for me (so I thought), that I reacted strongly.

I’m OK with recognizing my own lack of empathy. I’m actively working on it :slight_smile:

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Yeah this is a great trick… Since I work from home it takes such discipline to just sit down and start working… Always there’s the temptation to “just read through a few articles before I start”… and I’ve been slipping the last few months. C’est la vie