Archive for the procrastination Category

Watch the Travel Channel.

Posted in procrastination, TV, Wasting time on April 10, 2010 by Hepworth

Let me be clear here; there is absolutely no reason you would watch the Travel Channel for fun, and yet it exists. I couldn’t figure it out for a while, then it struck me. This is cable’s gift to time-wasters everywhere.

It’s one of the greatest channels to leave on all day, because it’s 100% mindless viewing. The daytime schedule is made up almost entirely of lists like “10 Best Beaches for Metal Detecting,” “Countdown of the Fattiest Breakfast Sandwiches,” and “23 Castles: Boring and Big.”

They will always feature something about New Orleans (at least once every day). They’re required to by law. And it will be overlaid by a short burst of generic Dixieland music. That isn’t really a time-wasting tip, just an observation.

The channel’s written at a third-grade level, so you don’t have to think too hard, and there’s usually something mentioned that is wrong, or stupid enough to pick a fight about. Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is covered in 50,000 gallons of paint? That’s enough to cover the White House 16 times! Thanks for putting that into perspective, Travel Channel. That’s useful knowledge.

So next time you flip past “12 Things You Probably Already Knew About Mardi Gras,” go back and take a look. It definitely won’t be worth your while, but maybe it’ll help you procrastinate. And that’s… something. Right?

Compound procrastination

Posted in procrastination, Wasting time on March 6, 2010 by Hepworth

This is a trick for our advanced students. I warn you, what I’m about to teach you should not be undertaken lightly, so proceed with caution.

If regular procrastination is losing its kick, I’m here to tell you that you can actually procrastinate while you procrastinate. It’s a neat technique I call compound procrastination and I try to use it whenever possible. It’ll really get your time-wasting on the fast track. Here’s a few examples of compound procrastination in action:

Say you have to do something, but you’d much rather be watching a movie. So go ahead and get a movie ready. After you put the DVD in the player, and sit down on the couch, but before you switch the TV to the DVD input, think about what you could be missing on TV. Then, it’s just a matter of deciding to flip around the channels to make sure you’re not missing anything good, and voila! You’ve successfully put-off watching your movie (which itself is just you putting-off something else) until after you’ve watched your TV programs. Sweet move, huh?

Let’s try another. You’re trying not to write a blog post. You figure a good way to not do that is to get something to eat. But you kind of want to play a video game, and you may not have time later tonight (Who are we kidding? You’ve got all the time in the world). Fret not! You can do all of these things in layers, built upon each other like a big, lazy onion. Soon enough, you’ll be playing your video games, which is putting-off eating, which in turn is putting-off blog posting, which is just putting-off doing something meaningful with your life! Blammo!

Make big plans.

Posted in procrastination, Wasting time on October 30, 2009 by Hepworth

calendarMaking plans is another one of those counter-intuitive decisions that many people overlook. It might seem like an intent to do something, but it can actually be used to achieve the opposite.

Let’s say you’re running out of money, and it’s time to get a job. You don’t really want a job, but it seems inevitable at this point. Don’t fret. Plan!

By planning something big for a date in the future, you’ll be sure to keep your schedule free until then. In the example above, you should go ahead and use your remaining money to buy a plane ticket. Pick a date in the near future. The sweet-spot is something like a month away. It’s way too soon to ask for time off if you start a new job, and far enough away that you can maximize your down-time. Now, you don’t have to look for a job until you get back.

Here are some other things you can plan to keep you occupied and job-free for a while:

Have your family visit. This one is great, because it’s cheap and stressful. They’ll show up, pay their own way most likely, and when they leave, you may feel like you need another break.

Move. It will really cut down on any housework you have to do, since you’re just planning on leaving anyway.

Enroll in school. This strategy works so well, it’s almost criminal. You’ll feel like it’s a major step, so you can put pretty much everything on hold to “mentally prepare” for it. The date can be way off in the future, because you know it will be a long undertaking. Then, if you actually do go through with it, you’ve got your foreseeable future tied up in piddling little assignments, homework, and other inconsequential nonsense. It’s really nice.

Plan a vacation. A vacation is good because all you’re planning is more time-wasting, somewhere else.

Of course, if you plan something substantial, you may eventually have to flake on your plans, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Bonus tip!!! Don’t limit yourself. This technique can work for other things. We’ve covered how being out of shape can be a useful tool in weekwasting, so apply this same kind of thinking to your diet plans: “I need to start a diet, but there’s that big food fest coming up in a few weeks. I’ll start after that.” That’ll work! But keep an eye out for more opportunities. As you get closer to the festival, you may hear about a picnic just afterward… what’s another couple days? With any luck, you can push that start date back until it becomes a formal new year’s resolution, and nobody expects you to keep those.

Get to a stopping point.

Posted in procrastination, time wasting on October 23, 2009 by Hepworth

stopA stopping point can be a potential time waster’s best buddy, but you have to know how to use it. To illustrate proper use, I’ll run an example.

Let’s say you’re adequately skilled with a computer (which I assume you are, because… you know… internet and such). Someone will eventually find out about it and try to recruit you for something. You might need to create a handout, letter, or website for ‘the man’ at some point. There are many strategies to avoid doing this, and most will be discussed at a later time, but here’s something you can do for yourself immediately.

Define stopping points ridiculously close together when you have to do something. So after you waste as much time as humanly possible before getting started, go ahead and crack open that word processor. Think about a title and type that in large letters at the top. Something like “Proposal,” or “First Draft,” or “Title to be decided later.” Now take a break. That’s a pretty good stopping point. Maybe it’s time for a snack.

Heck, you can even do better than that. Need to research something? Just Google it, open a few webpages, bookmark the lot of them for future reading, and ta-dah! Stopping point.

Next step. You’ll want to define stopping points very far apart for your own useless activities. Now that you’re taking a break, pick up your favorite book, and just read a few chapters. Actually, maybe 6 chapters…7. Yeah seven seems good. So we’re agreed, eight. O.K. Just make it a round 10. Well, there’s only 13 chapters left. Just finish the book, and then you can get back to what you were doing.

And when you do get back, set up a reward system after every 100 words or 8 minutes or so. Tell yourself it’s to keep you motivated and on track. No sense in burning out, right? It works great.

After all, there’s a reason why I only post once a week. This seems like a good place to stop.

Activity Avoidance

Posted in procrastination, Wasting time on August 21, 2009 by Hepworth

no stuffA lot of the posts here are geared towards what to do with your spare time, but what happens if you don’t have any spare time? How can you possibly waste time with a pressing deadline approaching? It’s surprisingly simple. I’ll teach you.

The first thing you should do is underestimate the time it will take. Think about the times you did something similar. Remember how long it took. It probably didn’t take that long. If you buckled down, you could probably pull it off in just 18 hours. Less than a day! No big deal. For bonus points, tell yourself that you don’t need to sleep, so technically 18 hours is almost a half day.

Next, convince yourself that you’re not in the mood to start. We’ve already established that it’s pretty easy to do, so there’s no hurry to get on it. Aren’t you sleepy? Or Hungry? Or just not feeling all that great? It’s better to be in the mood to accomplish things, and you can’t force that feeling. Get a haircut, and some new shoes. You’ll thank me later.

Now, become interested in something else. With the pressure of a big project looming overhead, your mind is looking for an escape, and getting distracted will come naturally. Turn on that old video game you don’t like anymore — time to find all the hidden items. Maybe you should finally learn Klingon. QaQ vum jIH ‘oH Quchqu’ vaD SoH. Or, perhaps you just go buy a coloring book. This is the time you’ve unlocked for wasting, so enjoy it as you wish. Whatever you decide to take an interest in, bury yourself in it. It’s important to the next step.

Suddenly, look up, and notice the deadline is coming too fast. Even the grossly underestimated schedule you set up is infeasible. Good news! Now that you know your project will definitely not get finished, you can focus on giving up.

Plan your excuse, chill out, watch some TV, and ask for an extension if at all possible. If you get the deadline moved back, repeat from step 1. If not, congratulations. You have successfully avoided an activity.