Procrastination problems

Does procrastination cause anybody else any trouble here?

I recently did a 2 week employability skills course which I learnt a lot about myself, how I work in a team, my TDI etc…

I guess I already knew that I was like this but I never really thought about it as an actual problem I just thought it was me, but procrastinating I realize is causing me massive problems at getting stuff done. Watch this short video and tell me if sounds familiar to any of you guy’s too: "Procrastination" Tales Of Mere Existence - YouTube

Here is my problem with procrastinating in design… I currently have some work experience which I enjoy and did well to get it. To get a job in ID being honest with myself I need a much stronger portfolio which requires me to spend a lot of time improving certain skills and doing projects in my own time. I often feel at times I use online resources such as this site, ID Sketching, Productdesignforums etc… to help with my procrastinating and talk about all the stuff I need to do but don’t actually do it.

I could really do with some advice and know if anybody else has been in a similar position to me? Being 100% honest, I do like design and I enjoy designing, sketching, CAD and all of the research but I wouldn’t say I love it. I often here the successful people in design live and sleep design. Does this mean I am in the wrong career path? When I get home from work I much prefer to go to the gym, play sports, or play music than to continue design work.

When I was at university I got things done because of deadlines, and now I have no deadlines to work on projects for my portfolio, it seems very little is getting done.

Any advice for a confused young man?

I sometimes suffer from this as well. The key to remember here is that the hardest part is the start. Once you get over that hurdle, its smooth sailing. In the book ‘Switch’ from chip/dan heath, they describe this similar situation. Basically it is a problem with getting your elephant (in this case your motivation) moving. They suggest setting a timer and just do 5 minutes. Once you get the ‘elephant’ moving is is a tough thing to stop. Maybe you could turn off the internet, turn on some tunes, and start the timer. Im guessing once you force yourself to start, it wont be a problem to just keep going for a while.

I have a procrastination problem, too. But, I think I’ll fix it tomorrow.

I’d like to share some insight on this when I get around to it.

I have a huge procrastination problem, always have, and probably always will.

I’ve found that it helps to make lists. I’ll make a list of every task + subtask I need to complete (seriously, break it down into EVERY LITTLE THING), then check things off as I complete them. So even doing the smallest little thing = I get to check something off the list = I’ve gotten started (and as someone has already mentioned, getting started is the hardest part).

Don’t sweat it. Some of the great were spectacular procrastinators. The topid reminds me of a lecture by Marvin Malecha, Dean of College of Design at NC State, that I listened to a little while back.

(I love how he is the perfect love-child of Phillip Johnson and Mark Twain)


In the lecture he tells the story/myth? of Frank Lloyd Wright and his design of the Kaufmann House/Fallingwater. The story goes that Wright procrastinated for months and kept telling Kaufmann that things were going great and it was almost done. When Kaufmann said he would be coming by in a few hours to see the plans, Wright supposedly sketched out the master plan for the house and had his entire staff work like mad to work up the rest of the plans while Wright took Kaufmann for a long dinner. The staff finished the house and Kaufmann was happy with the design.

I guess the moral of the story is work hard until your late sixties, become famous, get a large staff, put your office in rural Wisconsin, make your clients call before coming over, have a decent amount of petty cash for restaurant tabs, and wait until the last second to put your ideas on paper.

Use this story as a goal to drive your work now – work hard and be content with the knowledge that after 40 years of slogging away day and night, you can do whatever your please and be remembered for decades.

Sorry for not actually helping. :wink:

Read “The Four Hour Work Week”.

Don’t read it like a get rich quick scheme, but read it like a way to streamline your life. If the description of the fat bald guy in a red BMW doesn’t make you want to start actually working and living, I don’t know what will.

Others that I have started following and gaining inspiration from are those who live the “minimalist lifestyle”. Again, I find most of what they do a gimick to drive traffic to their blogs, but there are a lot of tidbits in there that are about streamlining life and breaking it down into little pieces.

99.9% of the time, my procrastination problem stems from being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand. It can’t be wrapped up with a little bow in a few hours. Its weeks, or months, or even a lifetime of focus.

I said it once before here on this forum. Take things in little chunks. Break them into little pieces and it beocomes easier. Be patient.

Productivity has incredible inertia.

That’s the exact same way I feel.

I’ve found that keeping a to-do list on 3x5 note cards works better than keeping to-do lists on sheets of paper. The smaller size of the note card makes it seem easier to handle your overwhelming amount of tasks by breaking it up a little. Of course it only works once you’ve found the motivation to get started on the tasks at hand.

Thanks for all of the responses so far guy’s! I’ve since been reading a lot of information into procrastination and apparently about 20% of us are chronic procrastinators, and unfortunately I think I am one of those people. I’ve noticed that some people describe themselves as being talented at procrastinating, I actually don’t see how this is a good thing?

Some of the books that have been suggested to read I could end up buying them and procrastinating and not actually reading them. I actually procrastinate about most thing’s, I can’t even give a yes or no answer most of the time to a simple question such as “would you like to go for some drinks on the weekend?” I feel like I can’t deal with answering the question even though it is not a complex one. I’m one of the guys that will miss out on seeing a band, miss out on a lift to a party and all of those sorts of things because I put it off until I have to deal with it from time pressure which then causes stress. (It can’t be particularly healthy)

The idea of making notes may sound good and I will try and give it a go but here is an interesting quote along that idea…

“Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,”

I don’t know if anybody here is familiar with personal drivers? Interestingly my primary driver is ‘Try Hard’ TH somebody that has many tasks on at once, puts a lot of effort into them but soon loses interest and doesn’t like finishing. My secondary driver is ‘Be Perfect’ BP. 2 Drivers that seem hard to fit together, maybe this is why I have so much trouble in getting stuff done.

I probably should be doing something else instead of responding to this thread :blush:

I also make lists, but my lists are for a specified period of time - for instance, what I will do today or for a weekend time frame. After the list is made (which is the easy part for me), my “wall” is getting the ball rolling. So initially, I try not to think very much/hard when I start off on any particular thing but instead just be physical with it to slowly get myself going. After a while, I’m swimming and focused to get to the other side of the pond.

I continually procrastinate, or rather I get very easily distracted when I know what I should be doing. I find lists help, but the most important thing is the division of time and reward. I have getting stuff done nights and rest nights. On the getting stuff done nights, I get home from work, and devide my time up. I’ll cook, eat, check email etc, but I’ll only allow myself a set portion of time. I’ll never turn the TV on as that’s fatal. Once the times up, then I’ll work for a set number of hours (usually two or three with 5 minute tea breaks in between), then have an hour of winding down time before I hit the hay. It’s important to wind down afterwards, otherwise I find I can’t switch off, I loose sleep and then I struggle the next day. If I’m successful at hitting my targets I reward myself - night out etc. The reward is important, because its a way of acknowledging success/progress - and it allows me to remain focused.

P waddy, It’s hard working a whole day and then finding the motivation to carry on into the night, especially if you’re not enjoying the task. Doing projects that you have a direct interest in (not that you think you should be doing to show a range in your portfolio) will help, something linked to a hobby etc. Also many people find working in isolation difficult - brainstorm a project with friends (designers or non designers), so that you can bounce ideas off each other to get the ball rolling.

IMHO The biggest thing for me if not doing things if I’m really tired/had a killer day in work, as usually this ends up in me making a mistake, which sets me further back and makes me frustrated. Just acknowledge that some days you will be able to work late and others its not worth it. Very few people can work 24/7 and say they enjoy it.