Mindful Moments: Stories and Lessons of Procrastination

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Archive for November 2009

Set clear and easy goals.

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Thanksgiving brings long nights and holiday lights.  Here in New England that means no more ultimate frisbee and not that much exercise.  So it’s a good time for me to hunker down with a cup of hot liquid and get some work done… if I don’t lose focus and start getting glum.  So how to keep on task?

According to Burka and Yuen, authors of Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It, setting goals isn’t as easy as it sounds.  “many [procrastinators] are busy setting goals all the time.  They almost always set ambiguous goals, as, “I’ve got to get some work done today” or overly ambitious ones, as, “I want to be president of my own company someday.”” (p. 131)

So this brings us to our ProcrasDonate tip for the day.  Make measurable goals for yourself.  How about “I’ll make an outline for the report I’m working on today.”  Or “I’ll ask my boss for an appointment to talk about how to advance my career today.”

For me – getting little things done is satisfying enough.  I don’t want to risk disappointing myself if I can’t get big goals accomplished.  Getting many little things done is how I can get big things done without realizing it.

Here’s how someone at Web Worker Daily plans for holiday productivity.

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Written by clayward

November 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Posted in goals, tips

Life as a slacker.

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OK, if this blog is about sharing stories then maybe I should share a story.

I guess my story is about life as a slacker.

I was always a slacker.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like doing things that other people think are tedious.  Something about the way my folks praised me or the time I spent entertaining myself as an only child whose mom didn’t do the mini-van thing must have set up those apparent contradictions.  She made sure I got my homework done, but it was up to me to care about quality. She has loved everything I’ve ever done, regardless of quality.  And she held the Ohio state record for fastest joyful tears.

Tests at school always felt like fun games and that meant good grades.  My slacker nature went undiagnosed until my buddy Becca (who made Sheep Beats) correctly noticed that I preferred eating snacks to reviewing calculus problems.  I felt like the secret was out.  Well, the secret has stayed out since then… and life continues to be funny and good.

So how have I paid the bills if I don’t keep a regular job?  I was lucky enough to get the following advice from Dennis Adams (whose art is a more perfect history) when he was my adviser in grad school:  “The secret to being an artist is to keep your expenses low and you’ll be fine.”  His crooked smile and that reminder.  How to keep expenses low on a slacker lifestyle?  Well I don’t have kids.  I live in the same town as Harvard and MIT, same town I grew up in.  But I don’t hop back and forth to San Francisco nearly as often as my former classmates.  So there’s always money in the bank and elite flavored organic foods on the made-it-myself plate.

Let’s jump to the ending of this story where my wife and business partner Lucy has come to accept that I don’t get work done at all unless I’m enjoying it.  When I’m not on a roll my time gets divided between a wonderful array of hobbies and low key vices.  But I’m always learning.  And I do all right.  btw, Lucy keeps a blog about her experience creating the technology behind ProcrasDonate.  She’s working and playing always and bursting of web dev joyfulness.

So what’s your story?

Written by clayward

November 22, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Posted in slack, stories

Charitable incentives to procrastinate less now available.

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Lucy has been working her tail off (really I checked… no tail) making Dan’s system for helping us procrastinate less into a fully realized framework. The website is in a very good early state.  Videos are mostly working, there is a system for charities to update their information, there are pages to help users register, other pages to give users feedback on their time online (with cute gauges).  Did I mention that the browser icons really work?

Today marked the registration of the first charity in our system!

I’m going to be meeting with several more charities this week to walk them through the process and learn from their reactions.  Oh, and I’ll also be asking them about coordinating some kind of year end outreach to their memberships.

In other news… Jesse’s flash intro is now live (it’ll get more readable when we have time to improve the layout), Shaunalynn drafted some cool postcard designs for helping charities let their peeps know about us, and Rebecca is putting together user profiles to help charities understand who will be donating to them through our system (based on her market research).

Lucy has been working on a very tight timetable (and succeeding.)  The next release (including manual oversite of real payments and weekly email updates) will be November 20th.  After that we’ll have a week long stage of serious user testing.  And on December 4th some of the lessons we learn from user testing will be incorporated in a real beta release.  Then we’re open for business and all the effort that Rebecca’s been putting into outreach will start to really pay off.  It’s all so exciting!

Thanks everyone.  I’m so proud of us.  Take that, procrastination.

Written by clayward

November 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Posted in resources