My Never Ending War On Procrastination

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The first book I read for 2015 was Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy A. Pychyl. The short book had a few good insights, but the introductions annoyed the crap out of me. It seemed like the author was procrastinating from getting down to the point of the book.  The link above takes you to Pychyl’s website where he had a bunch of resources to help fight procrastination.


I’ve been procrastinating my whole life. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow is my motto. However, tomorrow has arrived today, with a huge to-do list.  Let’s hope 2015 is the year I get things done. One technique I’ve discovered after trying all sorts of software and web based to-do lists is to wake up and think of five things to do today. I don’t use any software or Moleskin products, but just right them down on a scrap of paper.

Since I’m going easy on myself starting out, I’m picking five relatively simple things to do. Things like “- put up Christmas decorations” or “- reply to Linda’s email.” I threw myself a curve this morning “- clean out my email inbox.” I’ve been procrastinating on that one for a week.  A week ago I had zeroed out my inbox, now its back to 293. Email is insidious.

One way I shirk my tasks if by writing a blog like this one. Damn, I should have written “- write blog about getting organized.”  I don’t allow writing down tasks if I do them before I write them down – doesn’t seem sporting. Mornings, when I wake up, but I’m still too lazy to get up, are the best time for thinking of tasks without doing them. If I go to bed having done the tasks I thought up that morning makes the day feel productive, even if they were tiny jobs.

Another gimmick I’ve found for organizing my shit is to just do a task when I think of it. This helps since I often forget it before I can find my piece of paper. This only works if the task is pretty small – like folding clothes out of the dryer or cleaning the sink with comet when I see it needs it.  Those kind of tasks only take a few minutes. I’ll never stop and quickly write a novel to get it out of the way, but doing impulse tasks are quite satisfying. Last May I wrote “Does An Organized Desk Mean and Organized Mind?” I’m slowly making those ten tips into habits. I’m quite proud that I always do the dishes immediately after eating, even when I have company. And I’m slowly improving on decluttering. But I’m still far away from being organized and disciplined, at least by my dreams of getting bigger tasks accomplished.

In some ways, my eating self-control relates to my getting tasks done self-control. I strictly followed my no junk food diet last summer until the night of Halloween, when I couldn’t resist Trick or Treating myself. One Reese’s cup on October 31st, and I went on a chocolate bender that lasted until December 31st. Now that I’ve abandoned the chocolate and ice cream again, I seem to be focusing more on getting things done.

Since I’m retired, I imagine some of my friends wonder why I just don’t let myself go, do whatever I feel like, and have fun all the time. I’ve tried that – often, and it is a lot of fun. But it seems learning to be disciplined helps with having unlimited free time. I seem to have more time when I’m active. I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s very easy to sit down after breakfast, start listening to music and quickly discover it’s four-thirty in the afternoon. Being retired has taught me why the British dressed for dinner in the jungle.

By the way, I got a nice Christmas present from Worlds Without End.  They put my defining SF books by decades series in their database. Thanks to Dave Post and all the editors over there. If you’re looking for ideas for science fiction books to read, check out Worlds Without End.


2 thoughts on “My Never Ending War On Procrastination”

  1. Hi James

    I have been reading your blog for some time and have really enjoyed your columns. I originally located your blog via your science fiction related posts, but I have also enjoyed many of the other topics you cover. I am approaching my 60’s and found your discussions of your retirement really helpful. I also am a life long procrastinator so I could certainly identify with your comments about. However the reason for this comment is to thank you for the work you put into the defining SF series on the Worlds Without End website. I am certainly going to refer to these list in directing some of my future SF reading. So thank you very much I am really going to enjoy reading some of these titles.


    1. Thanks Guy. Making up those lists were almost an accident, but it’s turned out to be a happy one since so many people like them. I’m flattered they wanted to use them for the World Without End site. And now I’ve joined a reading challenged based on the 1950s list that just got started.

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