Skepticism

AI: Deadlines

I’m a chronic procrastinator.  I’m not very good at getting things done when there’s no deadline.  Give me a deadline, and 9 times out of 10 I’ll wait til the last minute and crank something out (like I’m doing with this AI at 1am on Saturday).  I used to think that at some point, I’d grow out of it, but I’ve pretty much come to accept that this is just part of how I operate and learned to work with it.

How do you work?  Are you self-motivated enough to stay on task?  Do you work better with a deadline?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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24 Comments

  1. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Tomorrow you might be able to get out of doing it at all.
    I’m a procrastinator and basically lazy. I will work harder to get out of work than it would be to just do it. I do not consider lazy a flaw but but an evolutionary advantage. Laziness is the true mother of invention. If some of us were not lazy we would all still be living in caves chasing mastodons with sticks.

  2. I do some of my best work right before a deadline. There’s something about the pressure that gets my creativity and productivity moving. Why spend weeks doing research and preparation when I can slam something together the night before? I know enough about how I work and approach situations that I can factor that in to my schedule to minimize problems this attitude might otherwise cause.

    In high school, I once made an attempt to correct this behavior. A paper was assigned with a due date three weeks later. I finished that paper in the first two days and spent the rest of the three weeks terrified I was going to lose it before it was time to turn it in. Never again.

  3. I used to be terrible about procrastinating but now I’m getting better. Since I work for myself if I didn’t stay on task I’d be in a lot of trouble (and broke) so that’s good motivation.

  4. In my job I create my own schedule which works nicely with my procrastinating personality. (Sometimes) I’m also going to school and ALWAYS wait until the last minute to write my research papers. I can crank out an A worthy paper on the last day before it is due including actual research… I don’t know why it works that way but when I get on a roll I produce really good work. It is something I’ve grown to accept most of the time however I still tend to panic and think what if my “roll” doesn’t come this time? It always does. Times that I’ve forced myself to complete work early I’ve created in myself a mental block and was unable to produce anything worthy of an “A.” So, I understand! Maybe it is because we are both brilliant!

  5. When I was younger I used to be a massive procrastinator. As I’ve gotten older I’ve pushed to nearly the other extreme. I still do most of my creative writing a day or two before the poetry jams, but everything else is done days, weeks, or months early. I think what changed more than anything else is having staggering amounts of unstructured time. After pissing away a few years with mindless gaming and tv surfing I finally got mad enough at myself to start thinking of useful things to do first. After a while the behavior becomes natural and more broadly applied.

  6. I had a lot of unfortunate positive reinforcement of my procrastinacious tendencies in school, when I’d write something the night before and get an A on it. I do work better under pressure and I’ve never had a time in my life where I really screwed something up by procrastinating. So I see no reason to stop.

    I’m putting off writing a bunch of stuff right now with this comment.

  7. If I start my day with no plans any more specific than “I should write something today”, I can quite happily find busy work to occupy myself with for hours, take tea breaks every 20 minutes or so, and get to about 10pm having achieved nothing but still telling myself there’s plenty of time to get things done before bed.

    My best chance of getting stuff done is if I’ve set myself some sort of schedule in advance. Like last night, I decided that I’d get up today at 9, and then at 10am exactly I’d turn off all my chat programs and close down the Twitter feed and just write for half an hour. Then I’d take a break, then get back to some other work from 11:00-11:30, and so on.

    So, setting mini-deadlines like that seems to make it much easier to stick to my vague aspirations of productivity, because I now have a much tidier flat and 1,000 words more than I had this time yesterday. I guess this counts as “learning to work with” severe procrastinatory tendencies.

  8. I wrote all of my papers the night before they were due. And that was back in the dark ages, before PCs, when “cut and paste” meant scissors and glue.

    I learnt to get prepared a bit earlier when I was in law; now that I do something that frequently requires days between Step 1 and Step 2, I have to work ahead of the deadline.

    But I’ve certainly come up with interesting shortcuts in the past, including some very complicated macros. I enjoy spending hours finding a way to save a few minutes of time. Mad, bad, and languorous to know.

  9. I used to procrastinate a lot, but I realized if I get the work done and out of the way as soon as possible, I can goof off later GUILT FREE with all the free time I have since I am done with whatever I was originally working on. This makes me feel better about the hours of surfing I do since I literally have all of my work done. It’s lovely.

  10. I don’t procrastinate about school work because I don’t have the skills to crank out a paper the night before. I have to work on it a little each day until it’s done. OTOH, things that don’t require creativity and that I don’t really want to deal with (like filing paperwork or doing taxes) often don’t get done until the deadline. Or ever.

  11. I’m such a procrastinator, and probably always will be.

    It’s not so much that I work better under pressure as that having a deadline coming up shortly makes me stop worrying about getting something done *perfectly* and makes me worry about just getting it *done.*

  12. I procrastinate. I started to respond last night, then got distracted by the television and now I’m back. I wish I were kidding. The worst thing about my procrastination is the trouble it’s gotten me into: both medical school and residency programs admit on a rolling basis. I was late applying to both and it hurt me in terms of the programs I interviewed at. I always have big plans, but without a hard deadline, I’m practically useless.

  13. Oh come on, no one has posted the quote? “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they fly past.” – Douglas Adams.

    On topic, sort of, I used to be very much a wait to the last minute sort of person, now I work in an industry where deadlines are so arbitrary as to be practically meaningless, so I just work as hard and fast as I can, and it gets done when it gets done.

  14. I work best when someone’s standing behind me with a cattle prod.

    Honestly, I have ADD, and I find it really, really hard to get things done. I do my best to work around it, but I really need every step of the work to be broken down into small steps. Pretty frustrating sometimes, honestly. I envy people who can just sit down, start and finish a project. If anyone knows how to make me do this, please, please, please tell me.

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