Why Karin Englund Purposely Procrastinates

By KarinĀ  Englund

Procrastination is part of the fun and I’m not giving it up completely. Just like James Bond, I work best under extreme pressure.

Procrastination is part of that process; If I manage to postpone a writing job long enough, pressure will build up and in the end it’s only a matter of protecting the writing time that’s left until the deadline.

It works most of the time, but then there are the unforseens, which have wrecked havoc on my plans a little too often.

With a week left for a job that takes a full week to finish, there’s absolutely no place for a flu, for a surprise visit from a long lost overseas friend or even for computer breakdowns. If you want the full list of unexpected incidents that have sabotaged my writing, I’ll gladly present it.

I’ve learned the lesson and I no longer go all the way down Procrastination Lane. Instead, I use a modified method, which gives me some margins for minor hurricanes, visiting relatives or the untimely death of a pet.

This calls for a good stratagem and a lot of systematic self-persuasion. After all, we are talking about something that goes against all my instincts–a premature ending of that lovely procrastination period.

So, this is what I do: I pretend that roughly 20 percent of the time available just isn’t there.

For a month’s job, I take away five to six days in the calendar. For a two-day job, I cross out one afternoon.

And I’m easily duped.

Once I’ve crossed out time in my calendar I really consider it gone.

Then I look at the job, or jobs, ahead of me and divide them in two different groups: one for IMPORTANT and one for CANNOT WAIT.

I take a closer look at Important and check the elasticity of the deadlines, to see what I can put aside for a while. Then the Cannot-Wait has to be broken down into more manageable pieces.

Now this is where I really manage to manipulate myself.

I look for fun parts of the job. Is there a research part that can be made into something interesting? Should I contact some nice people? Are there parts that need a bit of word collecting or synonym hunting?

When I’ve done the list of fun tasks, I look for easy and difficult ones and list them. Then I can pick things to do from the combined lists of easy and fun tasks, and that gets me going.

And do you know what?

When I have worked my way through fun and easy, then whatever is left to do on the other lists begins to look rather fun, as well. I’ve got myself started and that’s what it’s all about.

About the Author: Karin Englund has been a speechwriter for many years (mostly to members of the Swedish government); She translates (English into Swedish) and writes articles, book reviews and such (when she’s not procrastinating).

Karin is the third place winner of the first Procrastinating Writers “How I Overcame My Procrastination This Year” essay contest. Be sure to read winner Sara Lambert’s essay and second place winner, Alanna Klapp’s essay, too.


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