January 17, 2007

Procrastination: U=ExV/(G)xD

Professor Piers Steel has found a way to explain procrastination as a mathematical formula, and it only took him (wait for it....) 10 years to do it! I don't know about you, but I find that number funnier every time I think about it.

Anyhoo. According to this article on news.com, procrastination rates have been climbing in this country, and college students are the biggest procrastinators. Probably no surprise there.

New technologies only increase the number of distractions. The author refers to the Blackberry as "crackberry" and talks about "motivationally toxic environments." Hmm. So much for computers and technology making our lives easier, eh?

Here's what Steel says about trying to get anything done in this environment:

"Imagine trying to diet with a magic floating spoon of ice cream following you around."


For those of you tackling a photo organizing project, here are some tips to fix your procrastination habit:

  • Know yourself. You have to know your procrastination style in order to change your habits. If your problem is being easily distracted by other tasks, see the next few tips.
  • Turn off the TV. Unplug it if you have to. Sometimes if you're stuck the best option is to take your work somewhere else like a library or coffee shop.
  • Turn off your cell phone. Stash it in a locked drawer for the hour or so you plan to get work done.
  • If playtime interferes with your work, remove games from your PC. Stash game cartridges out of reach whenever you're working. If they still beckon to you, ask a neighbor to hold them for a while.
  • A tip for all of us. Turn off your automatic email notification. Lose the ding!
  • If you have no problem getting started but tend to get bogged down by large projects, break everything down into smaller tasks.
  • Perfection is the enemy of the good. Don't let perfectionism prevent you from making real progress. Better is bettter -- even if it's not perfect.
  • If a deadline is the only thing that motivates you, create your own and make yourself publicly accountable. (That's my own tip, fyi.) A deadline you set for yourself won't have any power if no one else knows you've missed it. Tell someone you admire and respect that you've set a deadline for yourself and you'd like their help to keep you on track. Ideally, this person would also be kind and supportive. Another option is to post to an online forum and update folks about your progress. Heck, you can even post your goals in the comments section here on The Practical Archivist blog.
  • Reward yourself. When you make progress, give yourself a nice treat. How you define treat is, of course, up to you. :)

Read the full article here, including an explanation of the formula itself: A Formula for Procrastination, by Stefanie Olsen


1 comment:

JC said...

Just stumbled across your blog in an effort to "motivate" us into photo organizing. We have a queen-size bed, piled high with thousands of pictures from a blend of my and my husband's family. If a guest comes to spend the night, looks like they're taking the couch! Anywho, I am using this comment to say "we're starting to archive". Will let you know how much progress we make in the coming months. Thanks for sharing your valuable ideas to the rest of us who are archivally-challenged!