Voice Over - Procrastination Station

Sometimes I work very hard. Sometimes I work very hard to avoid doing a thing. I just… do anything but that thing. I’ll go out of my way to do some really amazingly hard things to avoid that thing.

Look. Everything I’ve ever really wanted to say about procrastination has been said better by ze frank in a delightful little video from back in his The Show days. If you’ve never seen this, just… take three minutes. He really gets on a roll at about 0:30. The thing about Ze is he’s not just funny. I’ve always found his ability to get right to what is painful about something with lacerating wit a roadmap for how I want to write. And at the core of his little rant is this idea that we can and will work harder to avoid doing something than the effort required to do the thing itself.

Knowing this, I try to confront my procrastination head on. You can always tell when you’re procrastinating. You can feel it. The obligation sits like a small multi-tentacled, semi-translucent monster on the edge of your vision. So I try to look that bad boy straight in the eye and ask myself, “Why am I not doing that thing. Hmm? Of all the things I can do today, why am I working so very hard to not do THAT.”

Now even as far back as when I was a young whipper snapper in Washington DC, there is a consistent theme to the things I work really hard not to do. The task either requires that I reveal in some way that I am not perfect, or it requires me to engage in emotional work that I don’t want to undertake. Tasks that require a lot of physical effort, no problem. Something with a lot of intellectual challenge or rigour? Bring it on. Tasks that poke directly at my brand as a competent, emotionally level know-it-all? Hard pass. I’ll put those nasties off as long as possible. As ze says, “Learn a new programming language to avoid building thing you want with the language you already know.”

I bet there are a lot competent people out there nodding their heads. It’s not procrastination due to lack of motivation, self-discipline or laziness. We procrastinate because we don’t want to undertake doing the thing that makes us look or feel bad. Who wants to tarnish brand or admit failure or expose a weakness? Who wants to say, “Yeah, I forgot to do that thing I told you to do for so long that now I’m embarrassed to do it because by doing it now I’ll remind you how g* damn late I am.”

Of course, the way out of this deep hole is self-awareness, brutal honesty, and a commitment device for the things you really aren’t getting done. Today, I vowed not to go out into the garden until I finish the ugly little action that I absolutely MUST do… the one that is sitting there glaring at me from the top of my to do list growling and occasionally spitting ineffectively in my direction. No do, no garden. Easy peasy.

Of course, instead of doing it, I’m sitting here writing about it. I’m playing with fonts and considering rejiggering the layout on toastchanges.com.

Sometimes a thing just has to be done and no number of spoonfuls of sugar make it easier. #adulting wasn’t meant to be easy. So I’ll post this, and knuckle down and just do it.

Though I should probably design a new SharePoint team site first…

In a perfect world, you and I probably wouldn't exist, so let's not hope for one.” ~ Ze Frank

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