2008 Notebook


A few words or phrases I’ve invented or found over the last few years:

adj., fumble-fingeredness resulting from switching between similar but not identical interfaces (e.g., the gestural interfaces of the games Black & White and its sequel Black & White 2). A portmanteau of “discombobulated” and “dextrous”.
n., ? [mondegreen of “technologies”, but amusing in its own right.]
n., an object which, for a brief period after its creation, intensely fascinates its creator.
retrograde solipsism
n., ? [source: unconscious, while reading Philip K. Dick’s Ubik]
n., a maddeningly familiar fragment of a story, song, etc. whose context you can’t recall.
n., formed from “trepanation” + “-some” (cellular organelle suffix, e.g. ribosome, lysosome), an organelle that drills holes in the nuclear membrane? [source: unconscious, while musing on the fleeting accuracy of current biology in SF]


Ways to Avoid Procrastination

I’ve been a chronic procrastinator since childhood. Several decades later, I’m slowly unlearning this behavior. Here are four five concrete techniques that work for me.

  1. Make a task into a habit.

    The idea is to make the avoided task so routine you no longer consider procrastinating.

    Example: until a few months ago, dirty dishes could sit for a day or three in my sink. Due to the reappearance of ants (see technique #3), I got into the habit of washing dishes immediately after use. Even after the ants disappeared, the habit stuck. Another example: hanging up jackets and shirts immediately after taking them off. That works too.

    A nice side effect of this is that the task doesn’t grow larger with each passing day, unlike a sink full of dirty dishes.

  2. Make a task part of another task you do regularly.

    A confession: Not so long ago, I didn’t brush my teeth daily. But I never skipped doing my daily physical therapy. When I integrated tooth-brushing with the middle of my therapy, my procrastination rate dropped to zero.

  3. Make a task’s accomplishment necessary.

    The idea is to make the completion of a necessary task dependent on the avoided task.

    Example: it can be days before I sort, fold, and put away clean laundry. The easy way to fight this is to empty the laundry bags onto my bed as soon as I return from the laundromat. Then I have to put away the clean clothes before I sleep. (If this fails, I’ll start dumping the clean clothes onto my table/computer desk. No food or Web until the laundry’s put away!)

  4. Change when you do a task.

    Example: I hate having blood drawn, and have often skipped doing so when the doctor has ordered it. After an appointment was over, it was very easy to walk past the phlebotomist’s room, thinking “I’ll do it next time.”. Due to a mix-up, I recently found myself getting blood drawn immediately before my doctor appointment. I still didn’t like it, but I did it. So from now on I plan to schedule phlebotomy immediately before the doctor visit.

  5. Keep horizontal surfaces clear.

    Horizontal surfaces tend to accumulate clutter quickly. Head this off before it starts.

    Example: When I inherited a weight bench, I consciously decided to not put anything on it, even for a minute. I knew that anything left on the bench would become an excuse to avoid exercising. I already have enough of those.

    By extension, keeping shelves, counters, and the floor free of clutter helps you get into the habit of putting things away immediately.

Now I just need to find a way to answer email promptly, and to work out regularly. I’ll keep looking.


Last updated 29 May 2008
All contents ©2008 Mark L. Irons

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