You should be working rather than reading this article.
March 25, 2019 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Procrastination has nothing to do with self control. “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa.
posted by storybored (83 comments total) 118 users marked this as a favorite
 
You should be working rather than reading this article.

meh. got me.
(closes tab again)
posted by bigendian at 1:54 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


I'll have to read this later.
posted by "mad dan" eccles at 1:58 PM on March 25 [16 favorites]


Story of my life.
posted by schroedinger at 2:01 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


In fact, several studies show that self-compassion supports motivation and personal growth. Not only does it decrease psychological distress, which we now know is a primary culprit for procrastination, it also actively boosts motivation, enhances feelings of self-worth and fosters positive emotions like optimism, wisdom, curiosity and personal initiative. Best of all, self-compassion doesn’t require anything external — just a commitment to meeting your challenges with greater acceptance and kindness rather than rumination and regret.

This is interesting. So the idea is that you have to be MORE compassionate with yourself, even as you're fucking up? Hm.
posted by rue72 at 2:02 PM on March 25 [20 favorites]


I find procrastination can be a source of long term pleasure as well as one of pain. Consider a recent status I posted:

Hooray! I got the drill bit so I can drill out the stripped bolt
so I can replace the heater so the 3d printer will work again
so I can print the new case and stand for the homemade
laser level so I can align the ceiling lamps I'm hanging!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying this.


I could have cut or dodged around any of these tasks to get the lamps hung, but in fact I’ve been savoring each step that has turned this straightforward task into a small project. The lamps will get hung eventually, and in the meantime I’m enjoying being process oriented rather than task oriented.

Of course if I had a time limit this sort of thing would be a whole other story.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:04 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


This is interesting. So the idea is that you have to be MORE compassionate with yourself, even as you're fucking up? Hm.

Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do is make clean kill. (Although not literally in this case)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:06 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


"I find procrastination can be a source of long term pleasure as well as one of pain. "

This doesn't really sound like procrastination, it's just a circuitous route to your end task, with each layer being an additional activity you enjoy and get to use tools and techniques you need an excuse to actually apply. You're taking a long time to do the one task, but are still completing relevant tasks and if you have any negative motivation to finish the job, it is because you long for reasons to use your tools and techniques and completing the job would mean the end of that (for that project, presumably this itch will prompt other tasks in which you can ply yourself).
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:13 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


Thank you Storybored.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 2:15 PM on March 25


from article:
Dr. Hershfield’s research has shown that, on a neural level, we perceive our “future selves” more like strangers than as parts of ourselves. When we procrastinate, parts of our brains actually think that the tasks we’re putting off — and the accompanying negative feelings that await us on the other side — are somebody else’s problem.
So there was this branch of hedonist philosophy during the early hellenistic period called the Cyrenaics, after the birthplace of its founder, Aristippus of Cyrene. Here's the central ideas of the Cyrenaic philosophy:
  • Pleasure is the highest good.
  • There is no distinction between types of pleasure — anything pleasant to experience is good, without any distinction between purely sensuous pleasurable experiences and the "higher pleasures" of the intellect that other philosophers tended to valorize .
  • The only thing that we can know with certainty are our immediate sense experiences — which means that both past pleasures and future pleasures are inaccessible to us.
  • Therefore we must act in a way to maximize our immediate pleasure, without regard to the pleasures hypothetically experienced by some hypothetical future self.
One particular Cyrenaic philosopher, Hegesias, defended the practice of acting to maximize present pleasure (which is, under this system, directly experienceable) without regard for hypothetical future pleasure (which cannot be experienced, because only things that are immediately apparent to the senses can be experienced) not by saying that it was rational to act in such a manner, but instead by saying that acting in such a manner is the least irrational thing we could do.

nota bene: there are some possibly spurious claims that Hegesias was referred to as the "death persuader" or "suicide philosopher," and was forbidden to lecture because so many members of his audiences would kill themselves after listening to him.

Basically I bring this up because the framing of the article ("we procrastinate because we irrationally prefer immediate mood-soothing even when it might hurt our future selves badly, because on an unconscious level we irrationally see our future selves as people distinct from our present selves") presumes that it is rational to posit the existence of a future self, presumes that it is rational to see a continuity between our present selves and those hypothetical future selves, and moreover posits that it is rational to understand the pleasure hypothetically experienced by that future self in some inaccessible future as somehow more valuable than the pleasure — pleasure that is immediately apparent to the senses — experienced by the present self.

This is not, however, a universally held belief, nor is it something that is self-evidently true. It's a position that must in some way be justified, and one cannot simply dismiss people who don't hold that position as being somehow more irrational or damaged or wrong than people who do hold that position.

Anyway. I should probably get back to work...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:18 PM on March 25 [113 favorites]


All of this rings true. It's easy to get overwhelmed. I'm honestly at a point where I'm procrastinating on my procrastination activities. I put off job hunting to organize my closet, but then I got overwhelmed and started practicing guitar. But now the guitar is sitting next to me, and I'm on this site. Procrastination all the way down.

Or the takeaway is that some people really are just lazy.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:20 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


This is interesting. So the idea is that you have to be MORE compassionate with yourself, even as you're fucking up? Hm.

This goes along with another insight from the article, that procrastination is, at its core, a form of emotional self-harm. It is a violence we do to ourselves. Re-framing it that way should help us to understand that what is needed is more kindness with ourselves, not a hard-ass approach.

I am struggling hard with this right now, and one thing I've been dealing with is how working for bosses basically my entire career who are, to be frank, nasty mean bullies (why yes I'm in academia, how could you tell?), means that I have been shown little understanding/forgiveness for procrastination/fucking up in a professional context from the people who were supposed to be my mentors. Which has really taken a problem that was there but manageable in college, and amplified it to a point where I have a tremendous amount of career-related anxiety that is basically leading me off a financial cliff at this late point in my life. It's really doing a number on me mentally, and it's hard to internalize the idea that I need to be *more* easy on myself to get through this challenge, when that runs counter to all advice I've ever gotten or examples I've been taught to emulate.
posted by aiglet at 2:26 PM on March 25 [30 favorites]


I like to think of procrastination as a way of saying "fuck you, future me." Sometimes I deserve it. Usually, I don't.

The important takeaway is that when I'm depressed, I don't care about future me much at all, so they can just go hunt while I get some tiny scrap of joy out of the moment.

One little dopamine marshmallow now, or two big ones later, you know? If you don't believe there's a future where you'll actually get the big payoff, why invest in it?
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:38 PM on March 25 [38 favorites]


I haven't finished reading but an unintentional double meaning sort of jumped out at me:
“It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences.”
Well yes, exactly. I procrastinate because of the negative consequences of completing [unpleasant task].
posted by Western Infidels at 2:43 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


This article did give me a new perspective on procrastination. I'm going to try some of its advice. It's not often that I say that about something I read online, but I guess that's why I choose to procrastinate here.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:43 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


This doesn't really sound like procrastination, it's just a circuitous route to your end task, with each layer being an additional activity you enjoy and get to use tools and techniques you need an excuse to actually apply.

This skips though the pleasure that comes from the postponement itself. In a lot of ways it’s hedging against boredom, to know that there will always be something more in the queue.

Something I could do today I find an excuse not to so that I know I’ll have something to do tomorrow.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:57 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


It is a violence we do to ourselves.

Or it might be important to think of it as violence to our future selves.

So maybe a good strategy to combat procrastination is to cultivate feelings of altruism and compassion for that person who is going to be dealing tomorrow with what we do today?

And a step to help with that might be to practice gratitude to our past self for any good things they did for us yesterday. And forgiveness for any harm they did us yesterday.

The key would be if we can take more pleasure right now in the thought of something kind for that future self than we take avoiding whatever we're avoiding by reading MetaFilter or whatever right now.
posted by straight at 3:06 PM on March 25 [20 favorites]


This analysis (the article, not my previous comment) makes a lot of sense to me. The worst cycles of procrastination for me are when I'm trying to avoid having to face up to the fact that I've been procrastinating. If I can practice more compassion and forgiveness for that guy 20 minutes ago who was procrastinating, maybe I can make it easier to just laugh at the whole thing and get on with what I'm trying to do.
posted by straight at 3:09 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


I know that past me was a goddamn fool, but that past me also might have found present me to be kind of a dick, and future me will probably think we're both a pair of chuckleheads. Knowing that future me is not my friend and will likely not regard present me very highly, why am I doing any favors for that jerk? Also, I'm sympathetic to present me, because if I'm anything like past me, then we already know that I'm not very smart and it's unfair to put all of these expectations on me, yeesh! I mean Jesus I can already hear future me being all "waah, why aren't we in better shape, why didn't we save more money, why didn't we get that thing on our back checked out," WELL GUESS WHAT I'M HAVING A JACK DANIELS MILKSHAKE FOR LUNCH AND CASHING OUT THE ACORNS ACCOUNT, THIS IS MY TIMELINE, COME GET ME MOTHERFUCKER
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:15 PM on March 25 [93 favorites]


I really try in many ways to ‘be kind to’ my future self but had not actively thought about procrastination in this way.

The article prompted me to take an action or two that needed doing and were uncomfortable to think about. Wouldn’t you know, I feel better now and can enjoy the process of putting together dinner that I’m preparing.

As for emotion regulation. For others who struggle with this aspect of procrastination, I’ll say that DBT in a trauma focused program gave me a lot of skills for assessing and managing my emotions. I’m still not great at it, but better than I was a decade ago.
posted by bilabial at 3:16 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Or the takeaway is that some people really are just lazy.

Oh shapes, c'mon now. That is an unkind and untrue thing to say about yourself. Or others. I know, because I used to say it about myself and it was unkind and untrue then as well.

I have a note up by my computer that is not original to me but was worded differently when I read it. My version reads thusly: "If it is going to hurt either way, pick the pain that is most productive." Sometimes I can make the healthier choice and act to make things easier for my future self. But sometimes I can't. I am still avoiding my tax stuff, for example. And yet, I am not in total denial about the existence of the tax stuff, the work ahead of me, and that represents genuine progress from days of yore.

Thanks for the post, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:19 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


Of course if I had a time limit this sort of thing would be a whole other story.

I’ve got some bad news, friend.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:26 PM on March 25 [33 favorites]


Is that too existential for a Monday?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:28 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


i found i procrastinate when i am so sure something is going to suck that i don’t even want to face the contemplation of the suck head on, let alone the task itself. in this way i grow and prolong my suffering because i am willing to suffer low level anxiety about procrastination until it weighs more than suffering of the task itself.

to break out of this, when i catch myself about to procrastinate, i let myself take as long as i want to enumerate all the pains i anticipate in the task at hand. once i run out of horrors to list, i do the thing.

nine times out of ten it’s not as bad as I thought.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:32 PM on March 25 [33 favorites]


Reminding myself again that part of self-care is doing things for future me got me to go pay some damn bills. And that feels a little easier, enough that maybe I can start working on my taxes tonight. "Motivation follows action" indeed.

It is definitely a thing that I procrastinate on tasks most often when they're a stand-in for some larger concern, and it's nice? I guess? To know that that's a common situation.
posted by epersonae at 3:36 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


One big reason I procrastinate as much as I do, I think, is that when I'm not procrastinating I have a lot of trouble with impulsivity which has the potential for endangering relationships, the house, and my person.

When I Googled 'Tourette's procrastination' I found some interesting anecdotes, such as:
I procrastinate about many, many things and it’s practically destroyed my life. I’m 53, moved in with my widowed Mom 17 years ago, make only a marginal income, have no spouse or offspring or friends. I’m too embarassed and ashamed to pursue new friendships or even to allow the few good old friends I used to have stay in contact with me. And, I’m actually fairly personable –believe it or not! But heres the thing — and I wonder if there’s any connection to procrastination for me. I shake my hands vigorously, almost always unconciously, whenever I feel like I’ve accomplished something, or even if I think about or anticipate (exited?) accomplishing something. It looks and feels very weird when I do it (my face even contorts somewhat) and I’ve always been afraid of being caught doing it. I guess the only way I can stop it completely is to kind of not do much and to not think (fantasize) about doing much or to get too excited as a spectator of something, say for instance a sporting event on TV. Iv’e had this unconcious physical compulsion since I was a little boy. Could you provide any insight or direction for me? I don’t want to see a professional or even describe –in person– what I just described to you (let alone give a demonstration!) unless I have at least some idea what the hell this is, going in. I don’t have much time left to try to build some sort of a, not so isolated, not so hopeless, not so useless life.
I had a few tics when I was in grade school, but nothing as obtrusive as this guy's -- though I did get an annoying tic the one time I tried cocaine.
posted by jamjam at 3:44 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I . . . kind of enjoy the adrenaline ride of pushing a deadline. I know it's wrong, but it keeps me from overanalyzing, overwriting and obsessing. I'd never be so glib as to suggest I do my best work at the last minute, but the relief that comes with getting it in often mutes out whatever lingering self-doubt I have about the project. There is probably a better way to wire my brain so that I could get to the same "this is as a good as it gets" zen without the "this could be so much better/I'm such a failure/why do I even try? " I'd probably do it, but my therapy dance card is already filled up right now. And also? I . . . kind of enjoy the adrenaline ride of pushing a deadline.
posted by thivaia at 3:56 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


It's contemporary psychology with a conservative bias. It blames the individual, by reduction to responsibilization.

Whenever some scientist uses the word "task", I would like to remind them of the oppressive origins of the word. "Task" is not neutral, if you want to be thoughtful about it you have to ask, then who decided that something was to be a task? Thus there's a politics and power dynamic implicit to this discourse: notice whenever a psychologist uses these terms uncritically they never need to justify the meta-point themselves.

Of course the research is nevertheless interesting. Here, procrastination is conceptually reduced to aversion as a coping strategy, which is why "emotional regulation" matters. So I just really think that their narrow theories could be broadened from input by other people such as sociologists and philosophers.

Or even just account for other branches of psychology. You could say procrastination is psychological resistance and that's pretty much equivalent. That's not a new idea.
posted by polymodus at 3:59 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


While you’re being kind to future you, do the same for past you — they did the best they could.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:12 PM on March 25 [28 favorites]


I actually need to get back to work and will read the rest later... but is this news to people? I mean, I struggled with the cycle of perfectionism and procrastination. It wasn't until I let go of the idea of being perfect that I was able to turn school work in. I didn't figure this out til college. It was never a time management problem. It was always about self-doubt and just plain old, I'd rather be doing something fun than boring which is what the authors mean by managing moods...
posted by jj's.mama at 4:21 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I know that past me was a goddamn fool, but that past me also might have found present me to be kind of a dick, and future me will probably think we're both a pair of chuckleheads. Knowing that future me is not my friend and will likely not regard present me very highly, why am I doing any favors for that jerk?

cf. Calvin & Hobbes, 1990
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:24 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


but is this news to people?

For some people it’s hard to start, for some people it’s hard to finish, for some people it’s hard to stop.
posted by mhoye at 4:26 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Greg_Ace no no THIS Calvin and Hobbes!
posted by daisystomper at 4:36 PM on March 25 [34 favorites]


The emotional regulation issue is true for me. I genuinely RTFA but cannot recall if it mentioned perfectionism at all because that is also a common trait among my fellowship of procrastinators (who also often but not always have ADHD, which did not seem to be mentioned in the article either). And I will tell you that my productivity is deadline-based because of my painful perfectionistic tendencies. I am much better about getting work done for my clients now because I have learned to care less. Which is to say, I have learned to give clients what they want rather than what I think they should have, which is way faster for me and makes them way happier as well because my standards are inevitably unrealistic and inappropriately high because they are perfection. Sigh.

I didn't notice the article blaming procrastinators and suggesting they were lazy, awful, irrational people. Maybe I just overlooked it. I did notice people here doing that. I think people like me are used to being judged harshly and often internalise it. I have spent a bunch of my life with a constant internal critic (my dad, basically) who keeps saying mean things to me for my own good with the best of intentions and the absolute worst outcomes.

My favorite Al-Anon daily reading (from Hope for Today, page 180, I think) includes a line that says something like this: "You cannot bully yourself into recovery, you can only love yourself into recovery." As an experiment some time ago, I decided to take that message to heart and be more gentle with myself when I fuck up or fail, which is a lot, rather than let my dad's voice rip me a new one. This experiment has been going on a while, and my life has not nosedived into a living nightmare.

My emotional health seems to be better, which is something of a miracle. Life is a bit of a challenge. I can do X number of things, where X is not a big number. Like, I can barely keep myself fed. Overall, my life is pretty great, but not exactly easy. Even so, attempting to love myself and to be especially kind and gentle with myself when I screw up, including when I procrastinate, seems to be making a difference. Lately I have been turning in work to my client early, for heaven's sake.

I also try to think about my future self. Like, actively encourage myself to take pity on my future self by asking what I can do today to make life easier tomorrow for her/me. I also use DBT stuff for mood regulation. Plus timers. Visual aids. ALL THE THINGS. I use ALL THE THINGS. And they don't work all the time. My brain doesn't work the way I want it to all the time. I cannot even love myself or be kind to myself all the time. But many times I can. So for me, practicing self-love and compassion is worth the effort, even if it may seem silly. Trying it out doesn't mean you agree with the bullshit you may have been subjected to in the past or any articles you read or an Internet stranger's opinion. It's just a little experiment between you and yourself. I highly recommend it.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:37 PM on March 25 [50 favorites]


>> Of course if I had a time limit this sort of thing would be a whole other story.
>
> I’ve got some bad news, friend.

I’ll be disappointed if I die without an extensive todo list. Accomplishing everything that I want to is about the worst thing that could happen to me.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:39 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


That's not a new idea.

but is this news to people?

Of course this is news to people. We don't all get the same memo at the same time. Super happy for everyone who figured this stuff out earlier. Glad I found out as much as I have to date; always happy to learn more.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:41 PM on March 25 [30 favorites]


This is interesting. So the idea is that you have to be MORE compassionate with yourself, even as you're fucking up? Hm.

I used to be a huge procrastinator but went to therapy about it, because it was starting to affect my life very seriously; it also just kept getting worse and worse. I needed help. And very very quickly I learned that my procrastination wasn't about being "lazy" or poor time management skills - it was because I have anxiety. In my case most of it was related to my ADHD, and how having ADHD had affected my life with some pretty negative consequences before I got diagnosed. Which led to my beating myself up a lot, and even though I knew I had ADHD I did a lot of shitty self talk using "should" phrasing and feeling guilt and just genuinely terrible because I would put off tasks, which naturally led to doing it even more and feeling more negative emotions, etc. etc, which led to more procrastination, then more feeling awful about fucking up what seemed like very simple shit, etc. etc. But there were a lot of other factors, too (which I ultimately had to address) - much of it having to do with having internalized a lot of stress/standards around so much horseshit that we're supposed to be able to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and be "strong" and if you can't live up to these capitalistic/rugged individualist standards then you are a weak person, and if I just worked harder than everything would be better.

Realizing that, for me, my procrastination was about anxiety and not because I'm a "bad person" or have a weak character or anything made a huge amount of difference. It was hard to be compassionate about myself if I felt like I was lazy or a fuck-up. It was much easier to have compassion for myself because I have anxiety. (I'm well aware that not everyone would feel that way, but I did.) It took some work to get to why I had anxiety and then work to deal with it, but just reframing everything in the moment and applying a few techniques/tools to address my procrastination - which was all about compassion for myself and my future self- made a difference right away. Productivity techniques had just led to more negative self talk when they didn't work. But some quick emotion recognition/management - wow, what a difference! I saw results immediately, even though I was starting out with small tasks and small emotions.

In fact, I was blown away by how quickly I went from a master procrastinator to getting shit done. Part of it was just recognizing it when it was happening. Recognition - both of the procrastination and of the negative self-talk that went with it - was huge. Part of it was reframing situations. Part of it was asking why I am procrastinating right now? But all of it was saying hey, you're obviously feeling a negative emotion right now that the extremely temporary pleasure of procrastination is meant to assuage. When we're sad, mad, disgusted, anxious, afraid, etc., of course we want to feel better and don't want to feel those emotions anymore. So why was I beating myself up for wanting to feel better? Ultimately, I had to learn how to address the roots of those emotions. I had to face those emotions head on, and sometimes that sucked - but only in the short term. But right from the beginning, having compassion for myself in the moment and saying, it's okay, how can I address this negative emotion in a different way instead of procrastinating made a world of difference for me. I had to give myself that permission, and sometimes, I still have trouble with this because it's easy to fall into a spiral of "I don't deserve that" but my goodness - that simple step of forgiving myself, of turning my back on those negative feelings of guilt and regret, of saying, it's okay, what do I do next - all of that was huge.

It took work to address my procrastination in a holistic sense - and in an interesting twist, that work helped me realize that I'm not "lazy" at all! - but the tools/techniques I learned about at the very beginning are still often my go-to tools today when I become overwhelmed or start the negative-self talk and it gets in the way of getting something done. And it took practice. Lots and lots of practice. But the first tool has always been, and still is, self-compassion.
posted by barchan at 4:48 PM on March 25 [76 favorites]


I'm putting off reading the article.

What do I win?
posted by clawsoon at 4:55 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


who decided that something was to be a task?

I can procrastinate things that nobody but me cares whether I do them or not.
posted by straight at 4:59 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


> I'm putting off reading the article.

What do I win?


a short essay on mostly forgotten philosophical schools from the early hellenistic period
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:21 PM on March 25 [29 favorites]


“It’s self-harm,” said Dr. Piers Steel

Once you start thinking about procrastination as a form of violence, you've lost me. People don't talk like this in real life. Hopefully because they don't want to conjure up images of actual violence while they're trying to have a conversation about something way less grotesque and alarming than cutting open your skin, for example. Maybe I missed it and this term has two definitions now, one of which is, "Any behavior that gets in the way of becoming your ideal self."
posted by mammal at 5:24 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


And in other places that would be a consolation prize but here it's a bona fide treasure. More short essays on esoteric things please.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:25 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


’ll be disappointed if I die without an extensive todo list. Accomplishing everything that I want to is about the worst thing that could happen to me.

I can appreciate that. It’s just that glib morbidity is my preferred procrastination technique :)

a short essay on mostly forgotten philosophical schools from the early hellenistic period

Paging mefite diogenes (uncynically). Diogenes please report to the white courtesy tele- uh, agora?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:31 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


You should be working rather than reading this article.

Muahahahaha NOT THIS TIME, fuckers!





I should be grocery shopping.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:48 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


I'm just impressed that they managed to found a Procrastination Research Group. This has probably been on humanity's todo list since at least the discovery of fire.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:49 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


“Motion to table forming the PRG. Is there a second?”

“meh.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:53 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


So...um...I...um...

hmmmm...

Lemme get back with you on this, k?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:55 PM on March 25


I like
a) doing nothing, and also
b) going on a getting-shit-done spree and checking a million things off the list in one day.

Turns out, procrastinating lets me do a) and at the same time sets up b) for when I feel like it. Beats the never-ending monotonous drudgery of just doing things little by little. Plus a little deadline fear once in a while is good.

Problem is, if b) doesn't happen often enough.
posted by ctmf at 6:01 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Also, it's kind of a problem when my partner's a) day is on my b) day and vice versa
posted by ctmf at 6:03 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


“It’s self-harm,” said Dr. Piers Steel

Once you start thinking about procrastination as a form of violence, you've lost me. People don't talk like this in real life. Hopefully because they don't want to conjure up images of actual violence while they're trying to have a conversation about something way less grotesque and alarming than cutting open your skin, for example. Maybe I missed it and this term has two definitions now, one of which is, "Any behavior that gets in the way of becoming your ideal self."


How did you get from "self-harm" to literal metaphorical violence?
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:21 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


The aspect of being (in)considerate of past/present/future me (and those lovely Calvin and Hobbes strips linked above) reminded me of a Doraemon manga chapter that I read as a kid and stuck with me: Doremondarake (Doraemon Everywhere or Doraemon All Over). (See the Gallery section for thumbnails linked to the manga pages; click "Show More" to get the whole chapter.) There is also an 11-minute English-dub anime episode on YouTube.

TL;DRDW: Doraemon is tricked into doing Nobita's homework, then gets the brilliant idea of using his time machine to bring to the present his future selves from 2, 4, 6, and 8 hours from now, so the homework can be done 5 times faster by 5 selves. All of the future selves appear roughed up and exhausted. The plan works and homework gets done, but then the future selves get payback by beating up the present Doraemon. He tries to go to sleep but is woken up after 2, 4, 6, and 8 hours by Doraemons from the past who need to get the homework done.
posted by shortfuse at 6:28 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Shoot, I just realized I linked to the wrong story line! I did it in too much of a hurry.

What I meant to link to, which is much more apropos of prize bull octorok's original comment, was when Calvin did some "time traveling" trying to get his future self to write a report.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:49 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


There is an excellent interview of Dr. Pychyl on the podcast of (metafilter's own) Tim Clare. It is focused on writing in particular and creative work more generally, and one of the pieces of it that has stuck with me was the idea of self-forgiveness as integral to overcoming procrastination.

How he said it in the interview was that if you made plans to get coffee with a friend, and you stood that friend up for whatever reason, you would probably feel awkward and avoidant toward that friend, and what it would take for you to look forward to seeing them again would be for them to make some unambiguous sign that they had forgiven you the slight.

With a creative practice, though, there's no friend to do the forgiving. There's just you and the work, so if you fail to make your appointment with the work, the work isn't going to forgive you because that's not something that your work can do for you. You have to supply the forgiveness yourself, in order to restore your relationship with your creative practice.

I wish I could tell you that I have put this into any kind of practice in my own life.
posted by gauche at 7:04 PM on March 25 [37 favorites]


A better solution is to get rid of the anxiety and still not do anything you don't want to do.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:20 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I would just like to say that entirely failing to live in the "now" does not make this any easier. You might think this would make delayed gratification more accessible.

But for me, most of the futures I live in are never going to happen. So instead of doing now what I need to in order to improve the likelihood of reaching a future I desire, I daydream about futures that will never be, or pasts that never were. And in the gaps between those distractions, I divert myself with more immediate interests and unavoidable chores.

The short of it is that I utterly lack faith that there is a future I desire to reach. And without that belief, from whence comes drive? Is it actually procrastination if you don't even understand the motivation for the tasks not engaged in context of any future that seems real?

Is it procrastination if your actions are actually driven entirely by the desire to avert your eyes from the wreckage that is your life and expectations of the future? If you accept that you are not dying in this very moment but cannot bear to do much more than metaphorically count breaths as a distraction between sleeps, is that procrastination? Where is the dividing line between holding on to scraps of sanity vs just not really feeling like taking out the trash?

Maybe in the end there are real questions to be asked about why so many of us find ourselves struggling with procrastination. To what degree this is fostered by the human existence we have culturally defined over millenia? To what extent is it built into us? Why are there so many actions for which we feel obligation or need for the execution of which we experience such aversion? Why is daily life so full of stuff we don't want to do?
posted by allium cepa at 7:34 PM on March 25 [16 favorites]


That sounds more like depression -- specifically the lack of belief in a plausible desirable future. Or at least that's what it reminds me of.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:41 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


When I find myself avoiding doing something (A), I think of the Robert Benchley quote: "Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed be doing at that moment." So I trick myself into doing something else I was supposed to have done earlier (B), and thus can keep avoiding (A).
posted by LeLiLo at 7:47 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


The part about self-compassion spoke to me, a frequent procrastinator who usually attributes it to ADHD and perfectionism. "Never good enough" definitely characterizes my self-conception and my self-talk is highly critical, both byproducts of my upbringing, which included no compassion or consideration of my needs or preferences whatsoever, to the point where I learned to never ask anyone for anything, especially help.

The future me concept has been helpful, though; I will do for future me what I would never do for myself... including whatever is being procrastinated.
posted by carmicha at 8:04 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


> More short essays on esoteric things

well shoot i think you just gave me my next username
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:08 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


en forme de poire - yeah, depression is part of what's going on for me. But I dealt with a lot of procrastination in times when I wasn't so depressed. And it doesn't feel like these experiences neatly fall into separate buckets.

I've conflated a lot of pieces in the my ramblings above. But I do think that we've attached generally meaningless and unhelpful associations to the kinds of behaviour we label procrastination.

There are reasons why we consider unappealing/painful so much of what we believe needs to be done. There are reasons why the conflict between imagined future desires and immediate, experienced desires are hard to resolve.

It seems worth talking about balancing the scope of the demands of our imagined future selves on the resources of our present self. And on an immediate level, we still have to get through the day. But can we amend the structure of our lives to reduce this conflict? If nothing else, can we drop the unexamined fetishization of "efficiency", "productivity", "GSD" derived from modelling our lives after factories and attempting to squeeze ever more "future" out of "now"?
posted by allium cepa at 8:20 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I learned this incredible technique for dealing with procrastination from an AskMe, but it's super-unhealthy, but it WORKS SUPER-GREAT (at least for me):
I'm allowed to procrastinate on shit I have to get done, as long as I spend the time I'm procrastinating focusing on how awful the task I'm procrastinating it.

Eventually the SENSE OF IMPENDING DOOM of putting it off becomes worse than the annoyance of doing it, and I just do it so I don't have to keep thinking about how awful it is.
I don't think it's healthy, but it WORKS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:58 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


see that's how the "procrastination as self harm" stuff really resonates with me, though, cause if you procrastinate enough you start to develop a higher and higher tolerance for that sense of impending doom. and eventually instead of it being a spur to action, it's a spur to just sort of recreationally experience a now-controllable pain. It's a sharp tool one can use for cutting.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:12 PM on March 25 [21 favorites]


As I get older I remain ever amazed at how quickly the list of stuff I realize I can put off or ignore completely constantly grows because, as it turns out, it just doesn't matter! Many things that we're told are Important and Vital simply...aren't.

Which is not to suggest I live in a filthy pigsty (I don't; my pigsty is actually quite well-kempt if not antiseptically spotless and my rugs could use a spot of vacuuming), or that I was a neglectful parent (I wasn't); some things did and still do matter very much. But I've gotten more selective about what I worry over putting off, with the result that I get the truly important things done with a lot less resistance and personal emotional turmoil, and damn well ignore the rest, guilt-free.

That applies even moreso at work, where a Suit can suddenly decide that Metric X is Vital To The Company's Goals even though really it's only vital to them trying to make themselves seem Vital...whatever, I've got my real job priorities I stick to and let the Pickle du Jour take a back seat until the next one comes along and nobody cares about the last one anymore. The problem solves itself by just going away, with zero effort from me. Choosing one's battles is the point I'm getting at here.

On the other hand one has to be careful because it would be easy for that attitude to allow one to neglect long-term responsibilities that might not technically be "urgent" in the near future, but still need to be tended to in order to avoid bigger problems further down the road. For instance, as I approach my 60's I find that I can no longer assume my body will just continue working with minimal effort and attention on my part. I'm more aware that deliberate health maintenance - mainly exercise and watching what I eat - is starting to make a bigger difference in my well-being and can't be put off with impunity anymore. Balance is the point I'm getting at here.

Which reminds me - I've got dishes in the sink but they (and this thread) can wait until tomorrow; I've got to get my Beauty Rest!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:39 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


If nothing else, can we drop the unexamined fetishization of "efficiency", "productivity", "GSD" derived from modelling our lives after factories and attempting to squeeze ever more "future" out of "now"?

One thing I've noticed is that sometimes when I feel like I'm being coerced, it is really about my trying to uphold some long-ago internalized standard of efficiency, productivity, or social competence that I may not actually still think is worth anything. Like, how much time do I really want to spend on exercise? Am I trying to get up early because I think it'll help my day or because I think that's what productive people do? (I still struggle with this a lot because, you know, how do you even know whether you want something or whether you're just supposed to want it? What if both are true, but in similar unknown proportions?) But I totally agree it can be helpful to follow those feeling and see whether there is something more there, as opposed to just saying, well of course it's good to do things I hate and bad to do things I derive pleasure from (its own form of masochistic reasoning). Of course that still leaves plenty of unpleasant emotions between me and the things I actually still want after thinking them through, plus things I do purely to avoid negative consequences imposed on me from without. But I think that as you said, it at least helps to know which is which.

I do kind of feel like there is another type of procrastination that is not really about anxiety and is maybe more associated with fatigue. There are times I feel so mentally drained I find it really hard to do or focus on anything; literally, sometimes I feel like I'm just staring into the middle distance having vague half-thoughts. The problem is that often I can wait it out but then I've lost an hour or two and I end up having to work harder or longer to make up for it. I'd be curious if other people felt like this and what they did about it... do you try to treat that feeling of mental tiredness like any other troublesome emotion, do you nap, do you just roll with it, ...?
posted by en forme de poire at 9:51 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


When I was just starting out in my career as an editor, I was offered an opportunity to take it full-time. I turned that down at first, because I had a vague notion that I might try to go to grad school. I most definitely did not go to grad school, though, and a year later, when the opportunity came up again, I went for it. My mother was surprised I had decided to be a writer and editor, because she didn't understand how, as a lifelong procrastinator, I would manage to actually get anything done. But as I told her, doing work on deadline was in fact the only way I would ever do anything of merit—because it would force me to sink or swim. And so I swam.

Now 4 1/2 years out of that first career, I'm realizing that I also...really like delayed gratification. There is absolutely something to finally getting that release and rush of achieving something or feeling something after suffering for a while.

Also, the thing I've realized in this second career is that as long as your work is fairly flexible, it's entirely possible to procrastinate on work with other work you'd rather do more in the moment and thus get everything done eventually. Magic!

That said, I really made myself suffer this time. I had a hard deadline for something today, and of course I kept putting it off, finding many other things I would rather do. Ultimately I ended up having to do it while sick with food poisoning. I not sure I would recommend that path to gratification. Ugh.
posted by limeonaire at 10:04 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I still struggle with this a lot because, you know, how do you even know whether you want something or whether you're just supposed to want it?

This is the story of my last few years, when I realised that because of many factors, I'd never really taken ownership of my self. I'm not sure I really have now, but I'm much more away that the dialogue in my head is often full of conflict between my barely-recognised desires and viewpoints I don't believe in but which I've accepted uncritically.

I don't have any answers, because it's really hard to figure out who you are using tools in your head that are opinionated and possibly damaging, and were absorbed in a less critical childhood period.

To bring us back on topic, part of what I'm trying to bring out is that I believe what we're calling procrastination is a symptom not just of personal struggle but also of mismatch between what we are and what the structure of the lives prescribed by our culture expects us to be.

There are times I feel so mentally drained I find it really hard to do or focus on anything; literally, sometimes I feel like I'm just staring into the middle distance having vague half-thoughts.

That sounds like exhaustion of executive function?
posted by allium cepa at 11:21 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


This resonates for me. I procrastinate often and thoroughly, both constructively (I’ll do annoying task A just to avoid working on more urgent task B) and, uh, less so.

Recently though I decided to replace my then-current procrastination method-of-choice (paint by number puzzles), because I hated how much time I was spending on them and didn’t even enjoy the procrastination anymore. So, I decided I would spend that time instead working on learning Spanish (thanks, Duolingo— this can be done on my cell ... just like those puzzles!).

I’ve really been enjoying it, and it had a to-me unexpected benefit: I am procrastinating a lot less now. Maybe because I am not filled with a feeling of self-loathing when I do it? Yo leo español ahora — a tiny bit anyhow— and also I’m getting some writing done.
posted by nat at 3:25 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


First!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:43 AM on March 26 [26 favorites]


presumes that it is rational to posit the existence of a future self, presumes that it is rational to see a continuity between our present selves and those hypothetical future selves, and moreover posits that it is rational to understand the pleasure hypothetically experienced by that future self in some inaccessible future as somehow more valuable than the pleasure — pleasure that is immediately apparent to the senses — experienced by the present self.

If adults lie to you all the time, then yes, you should just eat the marshmallow before someone takes it away.
posted by amtho at 5:50 AM on March 26 [16 favorites]


This is why I don't ask questions on the green, get the answers here long before I'd ever get around to posting there... Doubt I'd like the answers any better there either, damn you future self.
posted by sammyo at 6:12 AM on March 26


on an unconscious level we irrationally see our future selves as people distinct from our present selves

I'm not sure that's completely irrational. A lot of my past "me"s don't feel much like present me at all. But, still, my actions are going to either help or hurt some person in the future who is stuck with this body and bank account and credit score, so I might as well try to be nice to that guy. Heck, maybe it's easier to get my act together if I feel like some innocent future stranger is going to be stuck with this mess.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:22 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


Finally, I manage to read the article via private mode in Firefox.

Given the current problems with replication in the social sciences. I must ask, have the experiments been replicated?

The article is full of theory and very confident statements. It tells a nice story. Like dozens of other stories I have read over the years, which turned out not to replicate.

Color me skeptical...
posted by KaizenSoze at 7:30 AM on March 26


A related, more overtly opinionated article: Laziness Does Not Exist
posted by valrus at 7:39 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


I'm also in camp "isn't this just the way (many of us) humans work (much of the time)? ...and also I wish I could do this better." Recent threads I'm trying to track down to weave into some sort of overarching thesis on performance/change and emotions (forgive me for not having the links at hand):
  • Article last year about the stigma/shame of being fat had an offhand comment that the only weight-loss programs that had been shown to work were those that started with love and acceptance of where you are, not with shame.
  • Recent NYT article (op ed?) on parenting style of over-the-top praise and acceptance, not shaming. Also several other articles and conversations on Native American/First Nations child-rearing.
  • Recent (NYT magazine?) article on the placebo effect with discussion that some of the effect may be because of positive attention from the caregiver. Related material on improving medical outcomes in the elderly and other populations with simple positive attention, even if it's via telephone, computer, or robot.
  • most of the recent ADHD and procrastination material I've read emphasizes the importance of starting with self-acceptance about where you are.
  • business management books talking about the effectiveness of constructive feedback
  • some of the research from the academics quoted in the NYT article: I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination (Wohl, Pychyl & Bennet, 2010) and Procrastination and the Priority of Short-Term Mood Regulation: Consequences for Future Self. (Sirios & Pychyl, 2013)
posted by troyer at 12:07 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


First!
posted by dances_with_sneetches


Ok, that was funny.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:24 PM on March 26


instead of doing now what I need to in order to improve the likelihood of reaching a future I desire, I daydream about futures that will never be, or pasts that never were

There's an AA saying I heard once that made me snort with laughter because it was exactly how I was living my life: "If you keep one foot in the past and the other in the future, you piss all over today."

I used to spend most of my available time attempting to get a better past or imagining a scary and/or painful future. Which my near future often was because of my fucking procrastination (among other things). When I took a workshop on adult ADHD at Kaiser, before I moved to Europe, I found out that my "fuck authority" attitude was not actually a unique personality trait but a trait shared by a whole bunch of other people with ADHD.

I mention it because I often feel compelled to procrastinate because I am angry that I have to do something that I don't want to do that I feel like someone is making me do. Which is sometimes true, like with taxes. But with my job, that's silly. It's like I am having an emotional tantrum and punishing myself for choosing to become a freelancer and then getting work from a client I really enjoy working with and who pays me decently, which is rare enough. So WTF, brain? Go rebel against something useful.

Forgive me if I am derailing this thread on procrastination with all my commentary about ADHD, but for me they are very much linked.

If nothing else, can we drop the unexamined fetishization of "efficiency", "productivity", "GSD" derived from modelling our lives after factories and attempting to squeeze ever more "future" out of "now"?

Sure. I will mention that in my case, it is not the unexamined fetishisation of efficiency, productivity, or GSD that makes my life harder. I am sure that causes suffering for many. I am not one of them. I am a seriously (alas) underemployed freelancer. I can work anywhere that has Internet access. As long as I do the work. It took me roughly a year to start making my client deadlines regularly. I did not get fired only because I was so much better than the person I replaced that the client was willing to put up with me turning in stuff late for awhile, but not forever.

Am I proud of that story? Of course not. But it is true and it demonstrates that in my case, society is not forcing me to feel shitty about myself. Nor is it working me to the bone. (I'm an outlier in a bunch of other areas, so maybe I am an outlier in this regard as well.) Now this is not a new idea, but along with everything else we have discussed, I would like to mention that I think after a lifetime of suffering, as a matter of course, to get any work done, I kind of crave it.

I think my brain used to equate my personal productivity with suffering because of all the years of unmedicated ADHD, lack of training in how to learn, hypercritical, alcoholic dad, yadda yadda. It was a nightmare to produce anything and somehow I never expected it to get better. It did, in a variety of ways, in some jobs and did not, in the one job where I got fired as a result.

Over the past 18 months I have learned how to do a faster, better, less-painful job of generating deliverables, as they say, for my client. Yay! I am still living in squalor lite. Having problems feeding myself. Have not dealt with my taxes. The latter, especially, is a deep and rich source, still, of harmful (self-harming, perhaps) procrastination that still leads to fear, anxiety, and shame. Still, I am working on it to the extent I can.

In theory telling people you have decided to work on something is helpful for getting it done. So MetaFilter: I will spend 15 minutes doing 2019 tax prep tomorrow. Don't worry; I will not send updates. Also, I am still sick so I am not thinking all that clearly. If this comment is way too long and off-topic, flag it for the mods to delete, and no worries. That is all.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:53 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: I will spend 15 minutes doing 2019 tax prep tomorrow

Go to it!

We should have a national Do Your Taxes Day. One Saturday when the IRS help lines stay open, restaurants have tax themed promotions, and we maybe do some sort of ritualistic practice: The Gathering Of The Paperwork, The First Pass, The Nap, The Search For The Deductions, and The Submission.

We could probably burn something too. And drink a bunch of alcohol, but probably after The Submission.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:19 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Good stuff... Hrm, hrm, hrm... The self harm... lost me. The emotion regulation. Well, gosh, ok, that's fun, let's lump everything in the zeitgeist, good. But there's some science! Yes! A tidbit! People who forgave themselves for the mistakes, did better next time.

This really may seem like the most obvious answer but I think it is reasonable to be vocal, ask for help, and if need be outsource. And apologize for mistakes.

To me procrastination always comes from a skills deficit. It is not laziness, it is not emotion regulation, it's a "skills deficit." To use another jargon of our day.

It's not being that good at something, which is intrinsically scary. What is being procrastinated is a skill that is genuinely just out of reach. Very automatic skills like brushing one's teeth can be done at any level of anxiety, but a certain level of anxiety makes less automatic skills difficult to perform well on. It's that Yerkes Dodson law or whatever.

To me, recognizing that I'm afraid of not being good at something or probably not good at something is just always the answer. It's freeing. Worst case scenario, it's not being the best at something the first time.

Nice job, Times. Nice job.
posted by karmachameleon at 2:32 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Bella Donna - oh, there's so much I want to respond to that's not really on topic. (No, I don't procrastinate by follow conversational tangents, why do you ask?)

...I often feel compelled to procrastinate because I am angry that I have to do something that I don't want to do that I feel like someone is making me do...Forgive me if I am derailing this thread on procrastination with all my commentary about ADHD, but for me they are very much linked.

That's no more of a derail than me writing about how depression and the pain of confronting the now drives a lot of my procrastination.

Because aren't we mostly talking about an observable behaviour rather than a specific pathology or difference in character?

Procrastination is just not doing something when one's inner reason tells you it's time to do it.

Why that happens is the interesting question. I'm mostly chiming in here because I think the issue isn't simply a situation of individual inadequacy, and moreover that the whole idea of inefficient, procrastinating humans exists in a generally unquestioned cultural context of opinionated values about how we spend our time, the surety of future existence, and the degree of individual traction over a future.

I'm glad you're finding more effective ways of managing tasks and scheduling. Because the struggle sucks.

If you have a history of being motivated by abuse and fear of abuse, it can be difficult to feel ownership of your own life. I don't know if you feel this way. But I do. And because I don't feel that ownership, accomplishing anything can be difficult. I rarely feel a sense of accomplishment nor is it easy for me to make plans. Consequently there seems little connection between what I do and what happens. And so I drift and defer tasks.

The only tool I seem to have is to stop caring about increasing numbers of arguably non-vital concerns. My bandwidth is far more finite than my ego wants to acknowledge. But failing everything is worse than giving up a few things.

With respect to my earlier comments about fetishing productivity - I'm less thinking of the internalization of that driving actions than the endless chorus around us in work, at home, in the media, all exhorting us to ever more efficiently time slice and cram our lives full of tasks. I'm thinking of the general idea of work as life, and of work as moral, and then, trotting down a Calvinist path, my implied duty to Do A Better Job. And Faster.

In the end for me, a lot of procrastination happens because I feel my personal self squeezed out of existence, and it's unbearable. And I'm not doing nothing when I don't do the tasks my brain tells me I need doing. I'm just living, as myself, instead of paying into the resource fund of efforts that keep up the structure of a life which the world has deemed appropriate for me
posted by allium cepa at 2:51 PM on March 27 [7 favorites]


First!
posted by dances_with_sneetches

Ok, that was funny.
posted by Tell Me No Lies


I saw that the post got over 20 favorites, but cannot figure out what the joke is. Someone please take pity on me and explain it?
posted by dancing leaves at 1:57 PM on March 28


I think it's a procrastination goof: ordinarily one would rush to post "First!" as the first comment, but this is more than halfway down the thread, presumably because the poster had procrastinated in commenting.
posted by epersonae at 2:07 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]


> we perceive our “future selves” more like strangers than as parts of ourselves

a related concept: prolepsis - "Understanding how people understand the present from the point of view of what we'll say about it in the future."

> Part of it was just recognizing it when it was happening. Recognition - both of the procrastination and of the negative self-talk that went with it - was huge. Part of it was reframing situations... Ultimately, I had to learn how to address the roots of those emotions.

this article is super problematic (in several ways!) and can be boiled down to know thyself aphorisms on self awareness and understanding how reality _really_ works (truth ;) but towards the end, the starred passage did catch my eye:
The difference between great thinkers and ordinary thinkers is that, for ordinary thinkers, the process of using models is unconscious and reactive. For great thinkers, it is conscious and proactive.
easy to say unexamined and unreflective lives are wasted, but thinking about how to think is hard! easier not to :P
posted by kliuless at 10:49 PM on March 28


It's contemporary psychology with a conservative bias. It blames the individual, by reduction to responsibilization.

That doesn't seem like a very fair interpretation of the article and research, which specifically suggest being compassionate to yourself -- i.e., breaking out of a cycle of self-blame.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:53 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I found this article extremely interesting -- and helpful!

I had a flash of insight last fall about the main premise of the piece -- that procrastination is a way of avoiding anxiety -- while at my job, in the midst of alt-tabbing from a stressful work task over to social media for a few minutes of distraction.

But the part about self-compassion was not something I had figured out. And I have to say, I've been trying to put this into practice this week, and I'm kind of amazed at how much of a difference it's making. My job-related anxiety has come down significantly. It's not gone, but I feel much more able to handle it if I am "talking" to myself internally in a supportive and sympathetic way about the negative feelings.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:25 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


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