A student sent me this link to an article by David McRaney about procrastination and self-control. It took me weeks to get around to reading it. And now that I have, I thought: should I post it now or later?! (So you can see why I've posted so little over the last months. If this one weren't itself on procrastination, chances are slim I would have written it up.)
The article notes that for those of us with Netflix queues, most lists are very long, and the documentaries and historical dramas tend to build up without getting watched--moreso for those that are available Instantly than those ordered through the mail. Of course, that's because we all want to be good people who watch heavy, enlightening, worthwhile films. But that's in our future, and in our present we're just too tired to watch anything more challenging than Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
[Personal note: I have my own rules about this sort of thing! My queue is short, and the order is more or less strict. Earlier this week I watched a docudrama about conservation in Africa and tonight's show will be a critically-acclaimed war movie. Oh, but that's the point about handling procrastination...]
Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.
The trick to dealing with procrastination, then, is to anticipate when it may strike and to limit in advance your ability to make choices in the present which you would not have set up for your future self. That is, to develop good habits--by hook or by crook.
Here's Roz Chast's take on procrastination.