2010-11-07

Why procrastination happens

Great find from Phil: “What we can learn from procrastination”. This article analyzes what procrastination really is. The coolest example must be people’s Netflix queues in a study: short-term rentals were always “fun” movies while longer-term rentals were more serious movies that one “should” watch. The article gives one intriguing explanation for procrastination: We are not a single personality, but more like an crowd of competing personalities. A swarm of small fishes posing as a single large fish, if you will. If procrastination happens, the wrong personality won. I find that this has something to do with the amount of pressure I put on myself in order to achieve something I should do (as in “I have to, but I don’t want to”). Then not doing it is an indirect way of standing up for myself, of protesting against being forced. The irony is that in these situations, things I don’t currently have to do seem very appealing, but once I’m free to pursue them, the appeal is often gone.

A recommended anti-procrastination book is “The Now Habit” [uk, de], one of the “Eight important books for software developers”.

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