October 30, 2008

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 2:53 pm

it occurred to me last night, failing to sleep due to an earlier nap gone wrong, that I use procrastination in a way that differs from most people: without it, I’d never pass any classes.

let me expalin: (I’m going to leave that typo right there.)

when I was in my first years at college, I had at least half a dozen projects that I poured my heart and mind into, and at the end of the day I didn’t have an ounce of energy (more accurately: time) for classwork. classwork was uninteresting, mundane, and unoriginal, while the projects I was working on were new, technically interesting, and highly engaging.

so I quickly failed out of school.

with the benefit of analysis and retrospect, I pretty much ADDed myself to death working on shiny things and ignoring the stuff that didn’t appeal to me, and the reliable way to avoid this is to prohibit working on projects that aren’t on the critical path to the most immediately goal (graduation). unfortuately, the improvement is good at best, because that doesn’t make me want to do the work any more than I would have. some night when a paper is imminently due, I’ll procrastinate until midnight or later, but at least I won’t forget that it’s due. after an all-nighter, the end result is that a paper got done where it wouldn’t have otherwise.

unfortunately, this also serves to steer me into a rut, as I can clearly see my overall productivity spiral downwards during the week when I really need it to soar. my only respite is that there are no assignments that span weekends, leaving me time to decompress and work on interesting things.

the projects are piling up, and just like in 2002 no matter how I try to spruce it up and rationalize, it boils down to a lack of discipline. damn.



  1. It took a military-like super discipline to get me through my last 4 quarters. There were way too many things outside of school that were interesting, including the two part-time jobs I worked.

    But now that I’ve been out of school for a while and just work one job, I find that there is still a lack of free time to work on projects. Parkinson’s Law—that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion—seems to have a lot of truth to it.

    So yes, I agree that it seems to be simply a lack of discipline. The trick is enforcing enough discipline to get the things done that you need so you have time left for the things you want. It’s tricky.

    Comment by Brad — October 30, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  2. last summer (and the summer/fall of 2007) I noticed this as well; I’d look forward to being a full time worker so I’d have more free time, and while at work I’d look forward to being back at school so I’d have more free time.

    I’ve learned just to be content. Sometime I’ll get something done.

    Comment by numist — October 30, 2008 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

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