How to become an expert at procrastination

Are you guilty of procrastinating? Have you ever looked at something and thought, “Nah, I’ll deal with that later?” Do you regularly put off till tomorrow what you could do today? Are you, in fact, avoiding something you have to do right at this moment by reading this stupid column? Then you, my friend, are a procrastinator. But don’t worry: There’s hope for you yet! With my expert advice, brains and brawn (not that I have any brawn to speak of), I’ll help you shake your bad habit of putting things off and get you walking the straight and narrow path once more! Starting next week.

The main problem with fighting procrastination is that not doing what you’re supposed to be doing is easier, in the short term, than sitting down and getting it done. Of course, lying around, ignoring your work is no good either, because then it hangs over you like the sword of Damocles or the Nixon-administration light fixtures in the Raymond basement. You simply have to have a rational conversation with yourself and lay out the facts—namely, that getting rid of your worries about your work in the long run is worth the short-term stress—then laugh and go back to watching TV. Still, thinking about your work is almost like actually doing it!

The next thing I always try is to trick myself into working. Some of the tasks I have to accomplish hardly feel like work at all, and sometimes I’ll start with one of those, just to get the ball rolling. For example, writing this column essentially consists of pounding wildly at the keyboard until I have a little more than a single-spaced page of pure idiocy; it’s really very meditative, and I look forward to it every week.

Of course, these clever hacks don’t work. See, the thing about me is, I’m a dumb b*tch, and I always see myself coming from a mile away. The part of my brain that wants to slack is much cleverer and more resourceful than the part of my brain that wants to get stuff done, meaning that I swat aside my own silly ploys with little more than a derisive snort. I always manage to evade my own better half, much like Road Runner dodging yet another one of Wile E. Coyote’s intricate traps.

So, what else can you try? Well, a good method is goal-setting. Make sure to set a realistic goal that you can actually achieve. Consider that enormous paper you haven’t started that’s due in three days. It was assigned to you nine weeks ago, and so far you’ve made no progress whatsoever. As such, given your pattern of work so far, a satisfying, achievable goal would be to finish the whole thing in half an hour, then go get blackout drunk playing Jackbox with a herd of first-years you’ll never speak to again. For extra reinforcement, beat yourself up when your inevitable failure draws near!

As a last resort, you can always try the old delayed-reward method. Simply set aside some of your hard-earned cash for a nice non-Deece dinner (an old roommate of mine swore by the Wendy’s 4-for-4), then put your nose to the grindstone and work until the delivery guy shows up with your hopefully-hard-earned food. The shame you know you’ll feel eating an undeserved treat will really make you want to knuckle down and get to work—or maybe the ravenous little snack weasel inside of all of our minds will help you ignore that and dig in anyway. Hey, you tried, right?

So there you have it: my top, what, four procrastination tips? You’ve probably spent your life battling these self-destructive tendencies of yours, but now I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear that simply reading this column has banished them all. Don’t believe me? Try it out! Sit down at your laptop and start your homework. Prove me wrong!

Aw, did you figure me out? Well, hey, it was worth one last shot. Remember: I’m always willing to go the extra mile for my readers! I would do anything to help you get your life into better shape. Except, of course, for working on my senior thesis—but I swear I’m going to do that tomorrow.

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