Have you ever heard of the blog, “Wait But Why”?

You probably didn’t come here to read what I’ve written about another blog, (or perhaps you did as the title I have given this blog is specifically referring to another blog . . .) I consider myself rather well versed in the mechanics of Google Analytics, but I’ve yet to discover the metric for ‘mind reading’, and how to integrate that data with dynamic posts.

Google Mind Control (beta) - alex van rossum

I did figure out how to effectively use the Mind Control metrics, though

Either way, I intend to keep it short. Wait But Why is an excellent blog that taught me a lot about myself – actually it was specifically two posts on the blog (here’s the first), but I’ll give the entire blog credit nonetheless, because it’s awesome. If you take a look at this post (or don’t, I’m not your dad), you’ll see the topic is procrastination. Now, I’d honestly hesitate to call myself a procrastinator, but I figure maybe one day I’ll be prepared to actually embrace that title.

Not today. (You can’t make me. You’re not my dad.)

Empty Comic - alex van rossum

I was going to put a comic here but I forgot

So . . . what does that have to with what I’m writing about? Quite a bit, actually. I’ve discovered that I’m motivated by progress, change, and my own personal interest. Sure, I get the panic monster like any other . . . procrastinator . . . when something absolutely must be done right now, but I also have the oh,-this-is-going-to-pay-off-so-that’s-all-you’re-going-to-focus-on-until-it-does monster too. Until I realize that things don’t pay off immediately, and then I get bored.

empty comic 2 - alex van rossum

I was going to put a comic here, but then I got bored.

That’s the problem I have — and I’m sure there are more people like me out there (at least half of the 3% who are INTP.  Maybe?) who share this to some degree — that virtually nothing pays off on the schedule that I would prefer. It may be a really awesome idea, but if it doesn’t gain traction in the arbitrary timetable that I apparently decided applies to said idea, I get tired of waiting on it to change or make progress and I find my mind itching to move on to something more interesting.

So how do I deal with this procrastination?

Or, a better question you may be asking yourself is: “How does someone like me deal with this problem that I suddenly realize I relate to?  Are you going to help me at all, or am I going to be left floundering here in my own mess of incomplete projects? Thanks a lot, mister not-my-dad blog person.” Well, I don’t know if what works for me will work for you, but perhaps it will, or at the very least, perhaps it will be a step to you discovering your own solution that’s sorta-kinda-related to mine.

I don’t “think ahead.”  I’m not really good at being in the present either – I see time as abstract – an annoyance that I’m forced to deal with and operate within. I understand cause and effect, but I don’t naturally recognize their significance. What I’ve learned about myself, though, is to imagine the effect of the project.  I envision that hours, days, weeks, months, years — whatever the ‘reasonable’ timeframe for something is — have gone by and the project is complete.  I imagine what effect it has and what is different about the world. I’ve found that such contemplation gives me motivation to complete something — even once I’ve gotten bored with it.

This also works if I think of it in the inverse as well — I imagine what would happen, or how things would be different, were I not to complete the task or project. Often times, that is enough to motivate me to get it done (or to just get it out of the way as soon as I can).

Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked with things that I simply cannot stand to do — say gobs of data entry or sorting excel documents or some such.

gobs of data entry - alex van rossum

Artist’s rendering of what ‘gobs of data entry’ looks like

In that sort of situation, I find that I have to just push through with frequent breaks to work on other projects, or to spend a little time on fark.com or reddit in order to pace myself, stay engaged get the job done.

How about you? Does reading about my experiences help you at all?  Can you relate? Let me know in the comments!

Read more on the panic monster, the instant gratification monkey, and the panic monster over at the incredibly awesome wait but why!


I’m giving away an art!  Check out the contest here!