ADVICE: Tackling Procrastination

Every week, New York City’s own party messiah takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution in his new weekly advice column in The Village Voice. Read the latest edition of Ask Andrew W.K. below or by clicking HERE.

A full archive of Ask Andrew W.K. can be found HERE.

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October 1st, 2014

Hi Andrew,

I’m a terrible procrastinator. It started back to high school, when I literally put off everything I had to do. Sometimes I would get very inspired and motivated, and other times I just felt so lazy I couldn’t do anything. By college, it had got so bad that I basically had a panic attack when I avoided writing two big papers until the night before they were due and literally went through hell and back to finish them in time. The problem is, I’m good at procrastinating. I got good grades on those papers, and haven’t really ever missed a deadline. It’s just the putting stuff off and the pressure piling up that’s really wearing me down. I think all the stress has taken years off my life. I’m seeing it get worse lately and I just need to figure out how to get that spark that kicks me into gear. For some reason, I just keep sitting around and doing other stuff instead of what I’m supposed to do. Look what I’m doing right now… I’m writing to you instead of actually just doing my work. Please help me!

Uninspired Procrastinator

Dear Uninspired Procrastination,

I think procrastination is highly underrated. Or at least, it’s a word that’s overused and not necessarily what you’re describing here. In fact, it’s possible that almost all the stress surrounding your situation comes not from potential issues caused by delaying your work, but from the fear, anxiety, and stigma surrounding the phenomenon of procrastination as a concept itself.

For example, in your letter, you didn’t mention any times when you actually missed a deadline or had a bad outcome from procrastinating, you mainly just expressed your deep concern about being someone who procrastinates and the anguish your concern causes you. Sure, doing a lot of work at the last minute takes a lot of energy and is super intense, but that’s how the process works at times. I don’t know how old you are now, but assuming you’ve been functioning this way for many years, it’s highly possible that the way you work on tasks and manage your time is perfectly OK, and that it’s your perception of it being flawed that is causing the majority of your suffering, and tension. Sometimes when one’s own natural inclinations and skills clash with preconceived ideas of “good behavior,” there develops a perverse and sadistic cycle of torment, where your spirit wants to flourish, but your rational mind constantly abuses and punishes it for “misbehaving.”

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