My Dad used to joke that my grandmother suffered from a debilitating mental condition: inertia. We all thought this was funny and true. She had (and still has) a way of arguing for the status quo rather than change. In fact, she's able to spend impressive amounts of time and mental energy thinking about doing (or not doing) whatever it is she's trying to avoid--or at least delay.

Apparently it runs in the family.

After very careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that my biggest weakness (or one of them) is the ability to simply act. To get off my ass and Just Do It, whatever "it" may be. Instead of doing it, I'll think about doing it. Or I'll put it on the list of other its to do when I actually have time to do them. Or I'll think about all the reasons I shouldn't do it. Or... you get the idea.

It's not a simple matter of procrastination. There's more to it than that. Procrastination is a simple. You just keep not doing it. But I make a mental "project" about not doing it.

It's not a fear of change. At least I don't think it is.

I think I'm just really good at over estimating the amount of stress that something really will cause, time it will take, and so on. Often times I'll spend far more time and energy thinking about it--more than it takes to Just Do It.

Here's a simple example. I've been "almost done" with a chapter of the book for quite a while now. I needed to sit down and put the finishing touches on it so that I can send it to some people for review. And so they can tell me how far from being done I really am. I've been thinking about it off and on for several days now--thinking about how much time it's going to take, because this sort of thing always takes more time that it should.

Well, it didn't. And then I realized that this has happened before. Many times.

Perhaps there's a good way to overcome this problem. I'm not sure what it is or how to go about figuring that out. But maybe by writing about it I'll be just a bit more likely to think less and Just Do It more often.

(And no, this has nothing to do with Nike. Nothing at all.)

The problem reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite books:

Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours.

I used to think I really understood that statement. But I'm only now beginning to appreciate it.

Oh, bonus points to anyone who can name the book without the use of a search engine.

Posted by jzawodn at May 12, 2003 11:29 PM

Reader Comments
# Matt said:

Your comments are like the story of my life. Constantly creating todo lists and planning something, but never really getting it done. It not even like I don't enjoy doing whatever needs to be done (most of the time), I just can't seem to get started.

On a related note I have started on a master todo list management tool, but can never seem to finish it....

on May 13, 2003 12:39 AM
# Charles said:

Try to make a distinction between procrastination and shirking. A procrastinator just puts off a job. A shirker avoids a job because he knows he has to do it seriously, whenever he DOES get around to it. A procrastinator will never take a job seriously, a shirker always takes a job seriously, that's the problem.

on May 13, 2003 12:57 AM
# Jim said:

I have the same problem; but I think I've identified it a bit better. I'm a perfectionist. If I'm going to do something, I want it done right. When it comes to writing or programming, there are so many minute choices to be made, it's a time-consuming task to just sit down and start with a few sentences. I never have time :)

on May 13, 2003 03:56 AM
# Daniel said:

Where do I get more writing done in two hours, than sitting at home with a great keyboard all day?

The local coffee joint. OFF OF the Internet. On a laptop with a frustrating, but good enough, keyboard. For me, "getting in the groove" can be the challenge, and removing email/IM/web from the picture makes it easier to focus.

on May 13, 2003 08:23 AM
# Jason Perkins said:

Illustions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, IIRC.

on May 13, 2003 04:50 PM
# Jason Perkins said:

er, Illusions. Though I'd figure you for a Jonathan Livingston Seagull kind of guy with all the flying that you do.

on May 13, 2003 05:21 PM
# Allyn Edwards said:

This is the perfect example of me.

The sad thing is the majority of the things I am perfectly capable of doing given enough time, even though some of them are hard things to do and incredibly cool. Then when I get around to it I have to rush it and feel bad because I'm a perfectionist.

Well, thats life I guess.

on May 13, 2003 06:59 PM
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