Jun 062007

One of my “tricks” for beating procrastination is to do something crappily first, intentionally. For me, procrastination often results from having expectations that are too high (it isn’t perfectionism, per sé, but it is closely related to it). In order to fulfill those high expectations, I tend to wait until I’m in the “right mood”. I’m slowly changing this habit because I’m realizing that the right mood comes after you start working, not before. Doing it badly on purpose at least once helps me to break my expectations and allows me to actually do the work.

I also give myself permission to do something over again if it didn’t work right the first time. For example, I have to read a chapter from my textbook for a course. I want to be in the “right mood” of wakefulness, concentration and mental acuity to fully absorb everything in the book as I read it. Indeed, there are times when if I did force myself to read it, I would not learn anything because my brain would be just too tired. Reading for me is an active process, so it requires my attention and energy. But I cannot keep waiting for the right mood, so I must create it by starting. So, in this case, I give myself permission to read it over again if I didn’t read it carefully enough the first time. A waste of time, yes, but less of a waste of time than waiting for the perfect mood and perhaps falling behind in my work. In the same way, I am writing this blog entry without any planning, and without really having a clear idea of what I want to talk about to try to beat the procrastination which is occuring from having set an artificially high level of expectations. Perhaps writing something of less quality will break my reverance for this space and allow me to write badly (although I am trying to write my best) and let the readers decide which entries they found useful or most interesting.

Reading this entry over, I can tell that this entry is not as clear as I’d like it to be, nor is it nearly as well structured. But, no one really remembers your mediocre stuff, they only remember your really good stuff or your really bad stuff, and the best way to do really good work is to do a lot of work, even if it’s really bad or mediocre. In this case, I am going to rely on my relative unpopularity which grants me the ability to be less self-conscious, as well as knowing that it will probably be a handful of articles that are the most helpful to readers, and I just need to do really well a few times and let the readers decide.

Main Points:

  • If you’re procrastinating on doing something because you’re afraid of not meeting standards, intentionally do it badly at least once.
  • Give yourself the freedom to redo it if you’re not happy with it. You don’t have to show it to anyone.

  3 Responses to “This space intentionally left crappy”

  1. You encourage unique strategies to motivate people to rethink procrastination. Self-discipline is a great skill. Conditioning yourself to fail at least once, means you’ll know what its like. That could definitely offer incentive to live life differently. However, for some people, they may think they could get used to it?

  2. […] achieve that state before 5 years, and I think it is possible to. I also prevent procrastination by deliberately doing things badly the first few times. That way, if its bad, I can say, of course its bad, I meant it to be like […]

  3. […] I’m not kidding. Set out to fail. This space intentionally left crappy | Mind-Manual Cure you of your fear of failure. If you don’t manage to fail, you fail at failing. […]

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