East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Procrastination: a five-weeks plan


I’m trying new things this summer. Nothing particularly momentous, but I am convinced we need to keep our brain working: I saw the effects of ennui and apathy and they fill me with dread.
So in the last two years I’ve been keeping an eye out: learn new things, explore new ideas, and what else. Keep the neurons firing.
After all, one of the first explorations of new topics I undertook was a course called Aging Gracefully, and they made it very clear that to age gracefully you need to keep the brainbox clicking (and live long enough, of course).

So this summer I’m taking on three new – or not so new – projects:

  • I’m trying to refresh my Japanese (target: be able to understand a movie or a song)
  • I’m planning my first microadventure (next week!)
  • I’m taking a five-weeks plan about time management and procrastination

I already talked about the other two projects, let’s talk about the third.

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Procrastination is wasting time.
Now this is a very delicate subject: I am (barely) paying my bills by writing, and when you are a writer you are always writing; writing is not just the mechanical act of typing a text, and we can be doing “writing work” while we wait in line at the supermarket, as we go on a walk, as we watch a movie. We collect and organize idea, find new themes, learn new things, plan future projects.

This means two things

  1. sometimes we need to find time to do something else, to stop thinking as writers
  2. we can’t be sure the time we spend looking at the clouds or at a blank wall is really wasted time

So, the point here is twofold: building for myself some downtime in which I can manage to forget about work (that’s a project for this autumn), and identifying the moments in which I am actually wasting time instead of doing something constructive.
Once identified, these true instances of procrastination need to be solved.
This is the current project.

I need to be more efficient when it comes to writing, mostly because I do a lot of work that needs to meet a deadline, and because wasting time leaves me emotionally drained.
But not only – it’s not just a matter of writing: I need to stop delaying the tackling of various issues. Dealing with offices, bureaucracy and banks is something I find particularly off-putting, unpleasant and stressful, and I need to solve that, too.

So I got me a handbook – because remember, I am one of those guys that believe you can learn everything from a handbook. The book in question is called Stop Wasting Time, and was written by time management specialist Garland Coulson, a.k.a. Captain Time – OK, so at least the guy does not take himself too seriously. I like that.

I like the idea of a plan that works in layers, for five weeks. It looks manageable, and so I’ll give it a try.
The text is pretty quick reading, so I can really prepare a chapter on the night of Sunday, and then apply the principles in the following week.
Ideally, by the end of July I should be a new man.
OK, c’mon, let’s be serious – I should have a better grasp of the dynamics that cause me to waste time and feel like I was trampled by heavy horses two days out of three.

I start tomorrow (that’s ironic, isn’t it?)
Week the first: getting aware of when I am really procrastinating, what I am procrastinating, and why.
Sounds like what I mentioned above, right?
I’ll let you know how it goes at the end of the week.

And then, I could always write a book about procrastination for writers…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

16 thoughts on “Procrastination: a five-weeks plan

  1. This sounds like a wonderful project. Yes, keep us updated. I found a big time waster for me was doing two things at once. I have to force myself into isolation (no radio, no phone, nothing) and work with deep focus, and that way I get things done faster instead of feeling like I’ve put them off by pussyfooting around with the other stuff. I learned a lot from Deep Work by Cal Newport, but it looks like the book you have is more of a practical application thing. Anyway, best of luck!


    • Thank you!
      To me, the main source of wasted time is, unsurprisingly, the web. But my deep dislike for all matters bureaucratic is also critical.
      I’ll keep you posted – and I’ve noted the book you mention. Who knows…


  2. Ah, there’s always tomorrow….
    seriously, good luck with the plan. I’m a HUGE procrastinator, but mostly for the reason because I’m afraid to actually finish something (it’s a whole psychological thing).


  3. So, if you turn out to find the secrets of procrastination, let me know will ya?
    Sorry for the split comment – my internet went weird halfway through!


  4. I costantly struggle with procrastination, mate. And I’m sorry to hear about panic attacks. One the most useful distinction I use about my projects is urgent/important. I do what is urgent knowing it’s a matter of MUST. But i say to myself: the best is what is important, even if this meas implies I work on it ten minutes a day. Or, well, I try. The focus is on the important matters, ad that’s a relief form the mind.


    • I do something similar, prioritizing projects, and it works more or less all right.
      My real problem is procrastinating stuff like going to the office to renew my ID card or go talk with my bank, and stuff like that.
      But I’m working on it.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.