Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Procrastination

Steve Evans, after inviting me to blog over at bcc and then waiting, oh, six months for my first post, asked me why I write so slowly. I type quickly, and I do think a lot, yet my writings are few and far between. The same is true of just about any hobby I have--I love painting, but I only have a few watercolors to my credit; I love writing fiction, too, but only have a few stories written, and none submitted for publication; I love my science, but I am incredibly slow when it comes to writing proposals, reading, or accomplishing my lab work. I care about all of these activities--I love all of these activities, and I especially love the feeling of accomplishment I enjoy when I complete a painting, a story, or finish a lab task. Yet somehow that isn't enough to keep me from surfing the net (most recently daydreaming about owning my own home) or watching TV.

Recently I came across an article about procrastination that really struck a cord with me. From the science daily article:

"Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task," Steel says. "Perfectionism is not the culprit. In fact, perfectionists actually procrastinate less, but they worry about it more."

Other predictors of procrastination include: task aversiveness, impulsiveness, distractibility, and how much a person is motivated to achieve. Not all delays can be considered procrastination; the key is that a person must believe it would be better to start working on given tasks immediately, but still not start.


That describes me to a T. I have trouble starting things, frequently because I fear I can't do what I've set out to do, or because I think I'll do a bad job. I'll find something else to do--something safer--instead. Once I get into a project I have trouble finishing, often because I get to a point where I'm unsure what direction to take next. Instead of just trying something when I'm faced with a multitide of possibilities, I procrastinate the decision, afraid of making "the wrong choice." My husband pointed out to me the more I care about a thing, the more I procrastinate doing it, which is very true. I want to do a good job, but I think I probably won't, so I don't even try, or find something else "more pressing" or that "I'd rather do" instead of attacking a task I'd rather accomplish.

I recognize this is counterproductive. What I don't recognize is a way to stop.

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