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!

Movies by Mail

Posted in Wasting time on February 27, 2010 by Hepworth

I don’t care what company you use; this service is an absolute necessity in any weekwaster’s life.

Movies through the mail. They send about 6 hours worth of do-nothing directly to your house, and all you have to do is open the door (not even that if you have a mailslot).

Catch up on old movies. Build your references. Have you ever been curious about any movie or TV show ever? Seriously, any movie. Even that one where William Shatner speaks Esperanto. Well now, you’ve prepaid to rent it, so you might as well throw it in the queue. I did.

You can stagger them so that you always have something to watch. I get about three movies at a time, which works well for me, but you can get up to 8 at a time. Glorious.

Then there’s the instant watch option. And that’s really what shines through, here. Thousands of utterly worthless movies available to watch at any point during the day. Any point. Utterly worthless. Stop typing that letter to Grandma; it’s time to watch American Pie 8. Postpone that blog post; watch something inexplicably starring Nicolas Cage as a near-elderly action hero.

The instant movies feature shatters the last barrier between the user and pure, unadulterated sloth — having to get up and actually put the DVD in the tray. I swear, the first helper cyborgs will be used only for answering the door, loading DVDs, and mailing them back. I know I’d buy one.

Iron

Posted in Wasting time on February 19, 2010 by Hepworth

How many of you out there iron your clothes? Seriously, what a waste of time.

When was the last time someone said, “Hey buddy, that’s a nicely ironed shirt”? I’ll bet never. Plus, if you’re doing things right, you’re not planning on leaving the house, anyway.

Lets be clear. I’m not suggesting you stop ironing — quite the opposite. Go ahead and iron everything in the house; efficiency is for suckers.

Stand in lines.

Posted in Wasting time on February 12, 2010 by Hepworth

It’s often said that a man spends up to one sixth of his life standing in lines or waiting for things*, and to that I say, “That’s all?!?! You’re not doing it right!” I’m certain you can do better than that.

Just think of all the awesome places there are to stand in lines (or “queues” for our British friends).

Most of the fun of the amusement park is waiting to get on the rides. Standing there, shifting your weight from foot to foot as your legs go numb, trying desperately to ignore the sweaty, board-shorts-and-polo-clad fathers yelling at their grubby, screaming children who, in turn, are dancing and swinging their arms wildly, obliviously hitting you in the crotch and stepping on your feet. But eventually, it has to end, and there it is up ahead. The line empties into what you can only assume is the ride entrance, and as you approach your heart begins to sink, but then something happens. You enter that door only to find another room of winding lines! Oh, amusement park, it’s just what I wanted! You’re the best!

In an effort to relive some of that excitement, I’ll sometimes wander the aisles of a supermarket waiting for a register to get completely backed up. Then, weeee! It’s standing time! Oh, you can go ahead of me, little old lady paying in pocket change and hard candy. I have nowhere to be (well, actually I do, but nowhere I want to be, anyway).

I want to have my next birthday party at the DMV. Those guys are the best. They take the whole “quiet lonely hell” thing to bold new frontiers. The offices themselves are legendary. It’s some sort of productivity vacuum — a void where nothing can ever get done in a timely manner. And the people there are almost as scary as the people on the bus, so talking to each other to pass the time is not an option. Honestly, I go down there whenever I can, just to take notes.

OK, that’s all well and good, but how often are you at the DMV, or an amusement park, or even the grocery store? Not often enough to log sufficient line-hours, I’ll bet. But fret not, my conflicted friend. Opportunities are all around you. Next time you’re out of the house, running an errand (knock on wood), and you happen to come across a group of people queuing up, just join ’em. Hop right into any line you see. There’s probably something pretty good at the front. Usually, the bigger the line, the better the prize (and the longer the wait). Try it out. You’ll be happy you did.

In the true spirit of laziness, I once saw a line to use the escalator while the stairs remained open. People were actually waiting there to avoid exercise. Where the escalator went I don’t remember, but I’ll bet it was the food court. It brought a small tear to my eye as I fell into formation behind the shuffling hordes, as any good time-waster should.

*I completely made that statistic up.

Sleep Modifications: part 2

Posted in Wasting time on February 5, 2010 by Hepworth

I’ve received a lot of feedback (OK, none actually) about the first list of sleeping tips, and the consensus seemed to be that we need some more. This week, we’ll look at some more easy tips to help get your sleeping habits in the way of your daily life. Specifically, we’ll examine ways to induce spontaneous, unplanned naps that suck away the hours like a productivity black hole.

Speaking of darkness, let’s move into the first tip: Leave the lights out in your house. Just kind of fumble around in the dark. The idea behind this tactic is to create an environment where it’s hard to tell the difference between having your eyes closed and having your eyes open. Then you can more freely switch between the two.

Change clothes. Look at what you’re wearing right now. Take everything out of your pockets. Strip down to the bare essentials of clothing. Are you wearing shoes? Take them off. Jeans? Unbutton them, or better yet, change into pajamas. You’re looking for any outfit that doesn’t hinder your ability to accidentally make the transition from lounging to dozing. (Of course the previous advice still holds fast about sleeping in your clothes, when you can. Try to strike a happy medium of sleeping often, but poorly, so you never feel very good the next morning.)

What kind of couch are sitting on? (If you’re not sitting on a couch, you’re doing it wrong.) And how are you sitting? Get really comfortable furniture. Trade up your IKEA Minimäl for a big, poofy Reclino-Luxe couch. Actually have you considered a daybed? I hear they’re making a comeback. You know that voice in your head that says, “You can be just as productive laying down”? Listen to it. It’s probably right.

So you’ve tried it all, but it’s still not working? Here’s my secret recipe for accidentally falling asleep: Rent slow-moving, David-Lynch-style films. As you recline in your pajamas with the lights out, you’ll be in Slumberland in no time. Sure, every once in a while, the soundtrack will startle you awake, but by then you’ll have been out for so long, you’ll probably just wake up, hit “mute”, and pass out again.

So enjoy your artificial narcolepsy. After all, why go through the trouble of saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” when you can just drift off and have no choice in the matter.

Never do dishes or laundry until the last minute.

Posted in Wasting time on January 29, 2010 by Hepworth

This tip is right out of the old school procrastinators’ handbook, but it holds up.

The best part about not doing laundry or cleaning dishes is just how easy it is. Chances are, you’re not doing laundry right now (if you are, I’m seriously questioning your commitment to time-wasting). So to pull this off, you don’t need to change a thing.

OK, it’s easy, but how will it help you in the long run? I’m glad you asked. First, comes the clutter. With all these piles of clothes and dishes lying around (bonus points if you mix them together), you’re not going to be able to find anything, ever. As we know, disorganization is a PROcrastinator’s best friend.

The next immediate benefit comes in the form of slowing down related activities such as getting dressed and eating. Towards the end of your cycle, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your closet, trying on terrible outfits, in hopes of finding some combination of still-clean clothes that won’t make you look colorblind or homeless. And every time you try to make a meal, you’ll be stuck rearranging precarious stacks of filthy dishes to get to the one you need.

And then comes the breaking point. The point that comes just after you’ve gone through the hamper twice and reused all the kind-of-dirty clothes, after you’ve switched to wearing sandals in the snow because you ran out of socks weeks ago, and after you’ve taken to eating all your meals either over the bathroom sink or on top of inverted pot lids. It’s the moment you’ve long dreaded — the day you absolutely have to clean up.

But there’s good news. Because you followed my advice and put it all off until the last minute, cleaning up is going to be at least an all-day ordeal. A whole day wasted! Now, wasn’t that worth it all?

Well, I’ve got to go change. I just dropped my helmet I’m using as a cereal bowl, and milk got all over my shirt I’m wearing as pants.

Forget what day it is.

Posted in Wasting time on January 23, 2010 by Hepworth

Quick tip, guys: Forgetting what day it is can destroy your productivity. See you next week!