Saturday, January 10, 2009

Procrastination - A Case Study

So here I am, almost 22 years old, the first semester of my second BA concluded. And I am thinking, what am I doing here, hanging about doing yet another college degree when I should be TEACHING by now, having attained the highest qualification possible in my area of expertise...PROCRASTINATION.


What IS it that makes people like me procrastinate? Are we lazy? Let me think about that one. As eyewitnesses can attest, I have almost limitless supplies of energy - when it comes to any activity that does not have any kind of immediate usefulness. Of course, I do my fair share of lying around, but no more than any other human being my age and much less than some. It's very easy to get me interested in something, there are very few things I actively dislike, I generally go along easily with any plan, I don't mind walking for long periods of time, if someone has a project due and needs my help, I generally agree instantly if I think I can do a good job of it, and don't mind working hard for it either. But when it comes to my OWN work...ah. That is an entirely different ball game altogether. The kind of ball game where I sit down on the sidelines and watch with interest, even if no one but myself is on the field.

Like...take now for example. I have an interesting and not overly complicated project due at the start of the second semester. I've had the whole of our 20-day Christmas break, plus a few weeks before it, to work on it, think about it, redo it fifty times if I so desire, cast it in bronze AFTER learning how to do so, etc. And yet here I am, two days before submission, sitting on my ass (should I say 'arse' now that I reside in England?) with a hazy idea of what I WOULD have done if I had the time now. And instead of panicking and starting, I look for ways to procrastinate further and thus sit and type out a long and a overdue blog post on procrastination.


Now comes the complicated part. I WANT to work. I WANT to excel. I WANT to be the best, because I know that I am good and thus far have been clinging to mediocrity because of my weakness, my addiction, my drug - procrastination. If I was just lazy, a few good slaps and possibly a prod or two with a burning brand (I could manage these things with the aid of my most excellent and wonderful friends/housemates) would be able to snap me out of it. But it is hard, oh so hard, to break a procrastinator of his/her habit. Especially when that habit has been ingrained almost since birth. I don't even know why I do it! I love to write, but when presented with a deadline, I will put it off like it is some undesirable deed which I am being forced to do by evil and sadistic people seeking only my discomfort. I love to read, but during my Literature BA, I read almost none of my prescribed books (this did not stop me from ranking then, fortunately) seemed too much like work. I read about a billion other books during those three years though, and carefully saved up my 'textbooks' to read after my course was over (still procrastinating on that one by the way, it's been over a year).

But what really burns me up is the frustration of latent talent unused. I can write, and I can write well, and I have possessed diaries and blogs for more than ten years...but I kept allowing them to fizzle out and die. I could have accumulated years of writing practice and been really good by now, I could have been publishing books by now for heaven's sake, if I had the focus and set some kind of goal for myself instead of leaving it as a vague idea, an item in the list of 'things I must someday do if I ever manage to motivate myself'. I write poetry, and I'm not bad, but I write an average of one or two poems per year, because I never make myself actually sit down and write one. I used to draw a lot as a child, and I am artistic, but I've hardly developed that talent at all...I could have been really, really good by now, and as it is, I am again stuck in the 'average' category on the list of 'people who can draw'. If I ever actually sit down and think about all this, I get so frustrated with myself...which is why I probably procrastinate on doing it.

I think my problem might be that I am afraid to think too hard about things that are important, and so I don't. I avoid them like the escapist I am, and try to worry about things as they come. But maybe they wouldn't come if I worried about them a little earlier. I don't even know if there is a specific cause for procrastination, and whether I can find it, but I certainly would like to know if there is a cure...though I suppose it would involve willpower.

I am quite annoyed right now. I don't want to be like this, and I don't even know why I'm STILL sitting her blithering about it instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Ugh. Cheeta, you disgust me. *slap*

Anyway, enough bitching about the self :-) Off I go now, on a mission to do the right thing! But first, a bath is in order. And - if you have any anti-procrastination tips for me, spill them! I beg of you.


Anonymous said...

Just do it! :-)

Cheeta said...

I did! :) By the way, anonymous person, identify yourself? :)

David Appasamy said...

It was me Cheeta! I don't know why it appeared as anonymous! :-)

Cheeta said...

Hi Daddy! Couldn't you come up with any better idea than to just do it? -_-

Abha Appasamy said...

But that's all there is to it!

1. Decide that you are, actually, going to do this. Not doing it or delaying is NOT an option you will give yourself.
2. Decide WHEN you need to accomplish it. Remember that everything (yes, almost EVERYTHING!) takes longer than you expect and you will face hurdles you had not anticipated. So give it 25% more time than you estimate you will need.
4. Remember there is a difference between IMPORTANT and URGENT. Many important things become urgent if neglected, and many UNimportant things become "urgent" because they just demand your attention and entice you, (phone calls, interruptions by friends, something you pick up that you think you MUST read NOW)when you could just easily postpone them to a more convenient time (but perhaps you don't really want to, so you may have to be very deliberate about it). The trick is to be aware of what's going on and develop a fairly "cold-blooded" method of handling it :-)
4. Prioritise your interests, especially stuff that will affect your life and future and remove your shoulder from the "always available to cry on" mode. If you want to be Agony Aunt, schedule the time and get others to respect it.
5. Remember that you need to like yourself if you are to get on well with yourself and have an upbeat outlook on life and be effective. Keeping on doing (on not doing) things that make you disgusted with yourself. So do things that allow you to give yourself a pat on the back and say "Well done, Cheeta"!
Now, ... On your way!

Abha Appasamy said...

Uh oh. How do I edit my comment? Read: "Keeping on doing (or not doing) things that make you disgusted with yourself leads you down the spiral of ineffectiveness and dissatisfaction."

Abha Appasamy said...

By the way, you're right. You could be a best selling author some day. You write very well :-)

AND you're very creative and artistic. You could even illustrate your own books, like Manohar uncle :-)

Abha Appasamy said...

...and guess where I learnt this? In the School Of Hard Knocks! I don't recommend you go there, but it may sometimes be necessary. Unfortunately, failing the tests means repeating the course until you pass and the knocks keep getting harder :-((

Cheeta said...

Thanks Mom! I think you should make your own blog and post too :)

This is so funny, Dad sends a one-liner and you send an entire instruction manual :D It was very helpful though. And I quoted you on Facebook...'remove your shoulder from the 'always available to cry on' mode'...haha brilliant! :) You also write no?

And thanks for the encouragement :) It means a lot to me. :) :) Both of you.

karuna said...

I completely agree. Oh my god. It's like we're suffering from the same problem. Yikes. I was hoping, by the end of your post there'd be some answers but the answer seems to be-(and this is the hardest pill to swallow)just do it!*sigh* Oh and hello, since it's the first time I'm visiting.

Cheeta said...

Cowowow :) :) Hello and welcome! Yes I guess we would all love an alternative solution to just doing what we put off :( But sadly, it is not to be. Sigh.

How are you!?

Anonymous said...

I hear you had a lot of snow (sorry this relates to an earlier post) so you probably have got over the novelty of it.
Procrastination - I usually start thinking about something I really want to do, after I finish the thing I am delaying... Satya

Cheeta said...

Hi Satya aunty, good to see you here :) Hmm now that's a really good idea...I should try that! And yes we had some proper snow over the past two days, really enjoyed it!