a 10-page paper with 10 references is outrageous? We can change our
thinking--our views of things (method #3, chapter 14) so that we like
our work better.
As a relaxed, fun-loving procrastinator, we need to see clearly how
pleasure seeking may, in the long run, lead to unhappiness, rather
than to our ideal life. Procrastination occurs because we are able to
fool ourselves into believing it is okay to have fun now and put off our
work. Exactly how do we do this? Very much like the underachiever
uses excuses. Procrastination is a well-learned habit; it happens
without much awareness. When we procrastinate, we quickly shift our
attention away from the work that needs to be done in such an
automatic and slick way that we feel good about avoiding the work--
until later. That's a self-con! It's denial. Facing reality is the only
solution. We have to see what is happening moment by moment, and
stop fooling ourselves. Eventually, the procrastinator can face the
facts, namely, that in most situations a take-it-easy, live-for-today,
let's-have-fun philosophy will usually not get him/her what he/she
wants out of life (if you often start projects but fail to follow through,
see Levinson & Greider, 1998). Don't buy the old I'm-not-in-control
saying, "The future will take care of itself." That's crap. You have to
take a lot of responsibility for your future. Think realistically about
your future...all the time. What are the procrastinators' favorite self-
illusions (and, thus, self-harms in the long run)?
Knaus (1979) describes three kinds of common diversions, i.e.
ways of avoiding the tasks that need to be done:
Action cop-outs. This is doing something that isn't a priority.
Examples: Watching TV, eating, playing, sleeping, or even
cleaning. Once we are engrossed in the diversion, we block out
the anxiety, self-doubts, anger, or boredom associated with the
work we are putting off but should be doing.
Mental excuses. There are three main types: (a) "I'll do it
tomorrow" or "I do my best work late at night, I'll do it then."
Since you have promised yourself that you will be good, you
can escape work and enjoy guilt-free play. (b) "I'll go shopping
now so I can study all evening" or "I'll call them just as soon as
I think of something clever to say" or "I'll fix up my apartment,
then I'll make friends." Some unimportant activity takes priority
over the main but unpleasant or scary event. (c) "I want an 'A'
in statistics but Dr. Mean would never give me one" or "I want
to go out with Brian/Barb (who is handsome/beautiful) but
he/she would never look twice at me." This is a Catch 22
situation. It's impossible, so why should I try? In fact, a person
with this defeatist attitude might never take any action.
Emotional diversions. Taking drugs, listening to music,
reading novels, and even getting involved in friendships, love,
flirtations, or religion could, at times, serve as an escape from
unpleasant but important tasks. Sometimes worrying about a
speech or some other activity is an excuse ("I worried so much