Reverse Procrastination

I am a horrible procrastinator. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who isn’t, so at least there’s comfort in that. But one of my little tricks to get around my procrastination and actually get things done is to procrastinate in reverse.

When you get right down to it, procrastination is my self-centered wish to spare this moment’s “me” from unpleasant activities. I don’t want to do the dishes right now, so I’ll treat myself to avoiding them. There’s a little bit of fantasy involved, since I apparently think that avoiding it now will somehow make the task disappear altogether.

But after years of procrastinating, I am learning that unpleasant tasks are stubborn, and they resolutely refuse to disappear. In fact, the food only gets more definitively stuck to the plates. The bills only get later until, finally, I’m paying late fees. The check book only gets harder to balance as the days–and the checks and ATM transactions–go on.

So, instead of sparing my in-the-moment me, I take a minute to think of the future me. I think about what it would be like tomorrow morning to have to deal with a sink full of tonight’s supper dishes. And then, I think about how nice it would be if I went into the kitchen all bleary-eyed, searching for coffee, and saw a clean, empty sink instead.

I still get the satisfaction of sparing myself an unpleasant chore. But this way, the unpleasantness really does disappear. At least until tomorrow night’s supper.

It may be weird, but it works for me! Click here to see what works for Shannon.


18 thoughts on “Reverse Procrastination

  1. If you actually made it to this post from Rocks in My Dryer, I have to congratulate you for your persistence and fortitude!

    My apologies for the two broken links. Thanks for trying the third time!

  2. Sounds a great idea to me. I was going to mention that I had to click on ‘home’ to read your post (I came over on link numbered 5 in the list.) but it looks like you’re on to the problem and you’ve got a link that works later down the list.
    God Bless.

  3. What a good idea. If you read my blog for Tuesday and a few weeks back, you’ll see that I, too, am a procrastinator extrodinaire! I’ll have to try it out.

    Thanks for sharing what works for you!

  4. Not weird at all! Whatever helps you get it done, right? I use reading blogs as a reward for a block of tasks – do block A, read some blogs, do block B, read more blogs. For building up our saving for the future, I follow a method similar to your procrastination method. Saving now is my way of sending “Old Couple Megan and Al” a well-deserved paycheck so we can buy more prune juice and Metamucil. Oh, and bus tickets to Boca Raton! Tee hee.

  5. Great idea! It’s all in the attitude. I’ve also started timing my most dreaded chores–when I know that mopping will only take me 13 minutes, I’m more likely to get down to it instead of wasting 30 minutes stalling!

  6. You know, I am a huge procrastinator. This is a really great idea. I never really plan for the future (unless it’s something fun like a vacation). But it would be great to really think ahead about what my procrastination costs me. Thanks for the tip! I’ll be back!

  7. I’m so glad you guys are enjoying this tip. I do sometimes forget to follow it myself, but when I remember, it’s so nice. I feel less frustrated and less like I’m drowning in my to-do list.

    Let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to get around to updating photo albums and writing overdue thank you notes when you have a clean kitchen, paid bills, and an uncluttered bedroom.

    I find that if my surroundings are cluttered, so is my brain!

  8. I am so bad too. I have tried something that works, too. I set a timer for less than it should take me to do the chore. Then I go like crazy trying to get it done. I usually finish but if I don’t then I give myself some “me” time. Your method adds another dimension to mine. I think I’ll try it!! Thanks!!

  9. I am so glad you finally got your link to work, because I need all the advice I can get about my procrastination problem. I am so bad. Your idea sounds like a good one and I’m going to try it out. Thanks.

  10. What a wonderful tip. I am struggling so much with procrastination right now. Ugh. I will try your mental “reset” and think of my future self next time I want to put something off.

  11. I had to find this post because I am a fatal procrastinator and my whole family has to suffer for it. This is a great way to think about it. In fact, I’m going to go do my dishes right now!

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