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Keff
Keff

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You will not do it later (most likely) - I'm a procrastinator, I know

If you're like me, a big ass procrastinator, I'm sure you have said "I will do that later" to yourself before, right?

How many times times have you come back and done it? I'm guessing not that many times. If you do, congrats you're not a compulsive procrastinator!

In my case, and probably quite a few people, we don't go back. At least not in a short amount of time. We might come back in a week or two, a couple of months, or even years after.

You will not do it later (most likely)

Take this example, you've been working on a new feature. You finish it, do a refactoring pass, add a couple more tests to cover all cases and you've got just adding a couple of doc comments or writing documentation for this particular feature.

You are tired and just want to finish the tasks, so you say to yourself "I will do that tomorrow" or "I will do that when I have some free time". And intrusive, negative, or more so useless thoughts come to your mind, like: "It's not even worth it", "I just want to lay on the sofa and check youtube", "I would rather do anything else than do this", "I really like turtles"... ok, that last one might not be that bad lol! But I think the point comes across...

You might also say, I will wait to have free time, or I will wait to find a chill moment to work on this, or a moment without my children being around... That moment will never arrive, or will arrive very late.

If you start to have those kinds of thought and are thinking of leaving it for later, DON'T. More times than not, you will not do it tomorrow or you will not find the "perfect" moment for it and other stuff will take a higher priority.

"I will do it later" is where good projects die, and where crappy ones are born"

If you don't do it, and leave it for later, it will come back to bite you. If you haven't documented something, and come back after 4 months, 1 year, or even more. You will hate yourself for not doing it, and you will need to waste a lot more time to do it, as you don't have all the context and knowledge in your mind. Meanwhile if you do it while it's still fresh, not only will it take less time but it will most likely be better as you know all the ins and outs of the thing in question.

Why is this?

I'd say the main reason for this is procrastination from our part, but I think it's also a problem with small companies, startups and personal projects more than for big companies. But I have no experience working on big companies, so it might also be the case. Do let me know if you work at one!

I think that in some cases we have so much work, new features to implement, meetings, planning, tasks to move forwards and bugs to fix, that we have no time (or think we don't) to return to polish a feature, refactor an old file we left for another moment or document some aspect of our software that needs it. Priorities shift continuously so what might be kinda important today, will probably not be tomorrow.

How to solve it?

Easy. Just do it, more times than not, the thing we leave for later will take a relatively short amount of time to do if we do it in that moment. If we leave it for later it will take longer to do as previously explained.

Meme

Doing it will also add value to the project, and you will thank yourself when you come back to it. If the thing you leave for later takes a long amount of time, it should've probably been part of the original task/feature.

In summary

When you see yourself leaving it for later, reconsider it. Have a thought and check if you can do it in a moderate amount of time, if so, do it. If not, also do it. You will not regret it, and your future you will thank you.

I'm a procrastinator, but there are ways to prevent it. Starting by acknowledging it. So if you want to stop procrastinating too, keep an eye on my profile as I plan to dive deeper and look for tools and methods to prevent me from procrastinating like a mad man and will post them here!

And remember to also share your ways of preventing it, they might help me or someone else!

End notes

I've briefly mentioned it in the post but want to expand a bit more on it. It's regarding that sometimes we have no choice but to do it later, be it because of pressure from management, clients, or because you have to go get surgery. Those cases are justified in my mind, as they're not under our control.

 Further reading

Discussion (18)

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goncalorodrigues profile image
Gonçalo Rodrigues

Often times, when I procrastinate too much, I realize that I have a task that is actually not worth doing. It doesn't bring enough value to justify the effort. In those cases, I reevaluate if I need to actually do it.
In other cases, I am actually misinterpreting how much effort it is. It seems too hard and that's why my brain decides to procrastinate. In those cases I spend 5-30mins breaking down the task into smaller tasks and suddenly I am motivated to do it.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

Good point, I've seen myself doing some tasks that are not worth doing instead of the ones I should be doing xD

I never remember to do the spliting of tasks, I will try to do it!

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tqbit profile image
tq-bit

This. It's like writing a cheat sheet for your exam and, when finishing, realize you don't need it anymore. Sometimes just dealing with the topic at hand beats the inner lazy-cat

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cmgustin profile image
Chris Gustin

Something that’s helped me a lot as a chronic procrastinator is the realization that we can’t always trust what our brain is telling us, and learning to identify the lies and retrain your behavior can be a powerful way to break this cycle. A few examples:

  • What my brain says: “Looks like you have a meeting at 2pm on Tuesday. Don’t worry, I’ll remember it for you. Adding it to the calendar seems like a lot of work.”
  • What I do: Immediately add it to my calendar and set an alert/reminder. Calendar app is reliable, brain is not. If I’m feeling resistant to this step, I remind myself that the whole process takes less than a minute, and once it’s done I can relax and remove this item from my mental load

  • What my brain says: “That looks like an important phone number/password/email/etc. Don’t worry I’ll remember it.”

  • What I do: Immediately write it down and put it in my (phone as a contact/password manager/email contacts/etc.).

  • What my brain says: “We need to do {task} later, don’t worry I’ll remember it for you”

  • What I do: Immediately add {task} to my Trello board as a card with any necessary details (I.e. phone numbers I might need to call, notes I might forget)

Hope this is helpful to others out there who struggle with these things. The important thing is to be critical of what your brain tells you, look at your own processes and where they break down, and find ways to make them bulletproof.

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jarvisscript profile image
Chris Jarvis

Good tip. Just go ahead and do it, get it out of the way.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

That's the attitude, just do it. In my experience if you don't it becomes more and more difficult, if you left it 1 day it can wait one week, and so on xD

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

That's great! I realize I do trust it in some cases and most of those times I forget... Will make an attempt to be critical!

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard 🇫🇷🇩🇪🇬🇧🇪🇸🇨🇴

I wish we would stop to assume that procrastination is an inherently bad thing.
it's not.
It's a strategy that deliver results.
They may not be the ones you planned to do, they may be worse but they may also be better or simply different.
Also very simply you cannot not procrastinate.
Not possible.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

I don't think I fully understand where you're coming from, would you mind adding a bit more context as to why you think that way?

In my experience procrastinating has never been better than not procrastinating... Tough I agree that it's not possible to not procrastinate.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard 🇫🇷🇩🇪🇬🇧🇪🇸🇨🇴 • Edited on

We are not machines. A machine is never tired, bored or afraid to do a repetitive boring dangerous task.

Your brain on the other hand has built-in mechanism to avoid those kind of activities, and scan the environment to see whether there is an easier solution. That's the strategy. Sometimes it doesn't work but sometimes it does. A machine would have never invented the wheel but we did.

Sometimes procrastination is the trigger for creativity and innovation. For us developers, that could be: I'm bored doing the same thing again and again in my developer workflow. What if I could automate it?

See also this essay on structured procrastination who argue that when you can procrastinate a something you dread, you can use that energy to do something else actually useful.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

Interesting view, I had not thought about it in this way! Thanks for sharing... I might dig into this view a bit more, feels really interesting

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mrdgh2821 profile image
Mihir Rabade

How about I read the article later?

jkjk

I use this habbit - do it at that memont of time when you had the thought of doing it.

And now the further reading section is attracting my attention more

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wjplatformer profile image
Wj

However, it is a good note to relax a little after doing... Lots of actual work (which, to be brutally honest, I do the least often). Some good people suffer from burnout and we should also take care of our bodies too.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

Totally, I've suffered from it in the past and it's not a nice experience

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seniorcitizen profile image
Naftal Rainer

I almost saved this post to read later.😂😂

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

xD

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

I found out I'm a procrastinator because I am Autistic and have ADHD. I'm hard wired to find other things to focus on like this game. I'm making... I have over 50 repositories 🤦‍♂️

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff Author

hahahaha lol, can relate very well, I have around 100 projects, I've finished none xD I have a pretty short attention span and get bored quite fast.

The only way I have to keep working on a projects is if I have external pressure it seems, at work and so on...