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Chronic Procrastination and the Cost of the "Ding!"

Guadian UK: Hi-tech is turning us all into time-wasters

(via Rich Siegel)

A few weeks ago, I pointed you to a startling stat in the New York Times stating that 28% of the average worker's day gets blown on unnecessary interruptions -- helping contribute to a crisis that a company like Intel now considers a $1 billion per year problem. From yesterday's Guardian comes more numbers on the growing cost of distraction:

Ferrari says that chronic procrastination is now so serious a condition it needs to be recognised by clinicians. In a study to be published later this year, he estimates that 15 to 20 per cent of people are chronic procrastinators. 'We now have data on 4,000 people, and it doesn't seem to matter what age you are, or your sex or background.'

Of course, as the Inbox Zero guy, I think a real eye-opener sneaks in with this passing note about the cost of all those noisy email notifications you created:

read more »

Talk of the Nation on Procrastination

How to Be a Productive Procrastinator : NPR (Talk of the Nation)

The Talk of the Nation that's on right now (available for streaming later) is on the topic of procrastination.

Why do today what you can do the day after tomorrow? Procrastination expert Timothy Pychyl and self-professed "structured procrastinator" John Perry discuss the latest research on this type of behavior and how to prioritize what's really important.

If you've been around here for a while, you'll remember John Perry for his excellent piece on "Structured Procrastination." Great stuff.

Slate on Procrastination

Slate's special issue on procrastination. - - Slate Magazine

Slate is running a special issue this week on procrastination, a series of stories on why we waste time, what we do when we waste time, and how different types of people waste their time.

My favorites of the bunch so far:

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Links and Resources for the Chronically Disorganized

N S G C D | Home

I'm still in a de-cluttering mode these days (more on that soon), so I was intrigued by this resource, which arrived this morning via Mrs. Folders.

While primarily a trade group for "professional organizers," the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization site has some handy documents and links to help with identifying and solving pathological problems with clutter and hoarding.

If you can tolerate the site's gruesome ardor for PDFs, you'll find some informative and eye-opening stuff. From their fact sheets page:

I really liked some of the Tips for Overcoming Procrastination for the Chronically Disorganized Individual or Household (excerpted):

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Whining, Blue Smoke & the Mechanics of Getting Unstuck

I've been working on a bunch of (non-43 Folders-related) stuff lately, but I started feeling that hankering to come back and write something new here. To get the engine started, I went through some old posts and turned up a few (oddly self-inspiring) ideas that I want to re-share. The topic? "Getting unstuck."

  • Hack your way out of writer's block - "Literally. Put five completley random words on a piece of paper. Write five more words. Try a sentence. Could be about anything. A block ends when you start making words on a page."
  • Solve problems by writing a note to yourself - "Seriously, open up your email program, type in your own email address, then choose a brilliant subject line that perfectly encapsulates your particular problem."
  • Do a fast "mind-sweep" - "And as long as you let that stuff accumulate as chunky deposits on the edges of your perception, it’s very unlikely it’ll get done since — well — they won’t get done until they’re been captured and properly started, right?"
  • Cringe-Busting your TODO list - "Per cringe item, think honestly about why you’re freaked out about it. Seriously. What’s the hang-up? (Fear of failure? Dreading bad news? Angry you’re already way overdue?)"
  • Patching your personal suck - "Every patch that fails teaches you a little something that might come in handy some day. Mistakes, as they say, can be a buddhist gift."

I guess all I'd add -- since it's on my mind today -- is that I'm learning how much it pays to listen whenever you hear yourself mentally whining.

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"No Links Please" drains HREFs, discourages web fiddling

James Clarke – No Links Please!

Here's a fun one. Our old pal (and the coiner of "life hacks"), Danny O'Brien, passes along an extreme attention aid that might be regarded as the heir apparent to his wonderful "Webolodeon" script for GreaseMonkey.

No Links Please will do its part to keep you from mindlessly surfing the web:

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Procrastination, the "Unschedule," and re-learning how to walk

How to Unschedule your work and enjoy guilt-free play

Chanpory, over at LifeClever, has a useful piece on what Neil Fiore calls "The Unschedule:"

According to Neil Fiore and 30 years of research, procrastination isn’t the result of laziness. Rather, procrastination is a symptom, a way of coping with deep psychological self-criticism and fear. It’s because we’re taught to believe that working is good and playing is bad. To reverse this unhealthy model, Neil proposes a tool: the Unschedule.

The Unschedule looks like a normal schedule, but with a twist. Instead of scheduling work you have to do, you fill in everything you want to do.

Like a couple of the exercises in Fiore's book (Oy, vey, who actually keeps a "procrastination diary?"), I think the Unschedule is best seen as a fascinating way to think about thinking.

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Ze Frank, on procrastination

the show with zefrank ["pro-cra"]

I'm a late addition to Ze's army of Sports Racers, but Jesus Heck, is this fella ever talented.

If you have another few minutes (and aren't already a subscriber), don't miss "Waves" for a weirdly touching paean to the primacy of the web surfer.

Now: off to consider my Power Move.

W. H. Murray on the power of starting

I've finally gotten around to reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It'd been recommended to me numerous times over the past few years -- most recently and publicly by David Allen during our podcast episode about procrastination.

I'll save a full review of the book for another time (hint: ala, Bird by Bird, it's a terrific tonic for procrastinating artists), but I can't think of a better way to welcome 2007 than by sharing this quote, which Pressfield borrows (p.122) from the Scottish mountain climber W. H. Murray:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

Happy new year, kids. Start something cool.

5 Favorite 43 Folders Podcasts, 2006

43 Folders Podcast

O'Reilly and Associates logo, detail

I'm a far from prolific contributor to the personal podcasting scene, but 2006 brought several episodes of the podcast that people seemed to enjoy and that I'm pleased to have made.

If you're new to 43f's podcast (subscribe for free) or just want to amble down memory lane with me, here's my five favorite episodes from this past year. Unexpurgated, unedited and, as ever, featuring candid depictions and the occasional swear; because sometimes productivity talk is just NSFW.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »