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Saturday, November 2, 2019


Procrastination is the avoidance of a particular emotion associated with a task. It could be boredom, frustration, fear or dread, shame or guilt. The avoidance of the task, though, does not mean an avoidance of that emotion, but it's prolongation. You are essentially carrying around that emotion with you all the time. Completing the task, then, is a release from that emotion, not its prolongation.

So there must be some positive benefit to procrastination: one could become habituated to that tension and release of emotion, or thrive on the adrenaline of almost missing deadlines.

Procrastination creates inefficiency, with greater wait times before work is begun. You are "at work" for longer than you are working.

Imagine two people given an identical task. One does it first thing in the morning, and then is released for the rest of the day. The other does not things all day, and finally gets around to the task at the end, but does not experience that early release from the task, and must always keep it in the back of the mind somehow.


Phaedrus said...

Lovely insight.

Phaedrus said...

You've been on this beat for years! I linked to your posts on basil.CA to spread 'em around.

Jonathan said...

Thanks! I had forgotten about those earlier posts on the same topic.

Leslie B. said...

In my case, though, it's not procrastination, it's dissociation. I dissociate when doing anything academic in THIS field and it disables me for everything, and for a long time I couldn't really control it, would have to really grasp at that academic self which wanted to go and hide (and would). That was why I had to always do all the things really needed, first: have groceries, batten down this and that hatch, because once I started, I'd have to start battling the dissociation, and it could really be disabling. AND people would not believe me on it, I'd have had to stop controlling it to be believed, and I didn't think I would get help with the potentially disastrous results of not controlling it, so.

What it took to stop it wasn't meditation or force of will, it was that my colleagues finally agreed to join with me in getting the supervisor who was harassing us removed. I'm still traumatized, and traumatized from things that happened before that, but having that person removed was the key to being able to sit down and just work.