The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Posts Tagged ‘procrastination

No force on earth…

with 4 comments

Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it.
— John Perry, in his brilliant essay Structured Procrastination

Am I the only one who finds the last sentence above not a joke at all? Who has tried for months to send a single email?


(Prof. Perry’s short humorous essay is a true classic of our times, and one I have found much insight from. The trick of being able to do X simply by thinking of a more important Y has helped me many times, whenever I have remembered to apply it, and the essay helps one avoid the wrong tack of minimising commitments. Still, sometimes, there are things X to be done for which no more important Y comes to mind, and it is not clear what to do in that case.)

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Written by S

Fri, 2010-03-12 at 15:27:22

The procrastinator’s nature

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I just started using LeechBlock yesterday, and already I know why “How can I block Google’s cached versions of sites as well?” is in the FAQ.


LeechBlock is wonderful. (Install)

There are no results on Google for “LeechBlock saved my life”, but there are testimonials like “Leech block has changed my life”, “Leechblock just saved my life”, and “This application is saving my thesis, and improving my social life”.

If LeechBlock isn’t working for you, you can try more extreme solutions like (on Mac) Freedom and SelfControl. (Found via this post.) But for me, right now, with my current level of work and self-awareness and other devices being employed, LeechBlock seems to be just about sufficient. (Although I do wish Safari were an even worse browser than it is.)

Semi-unrelatedly, also worth reading is Aaron Swartz’s experiment involving one month offline: Before/After.

Written by S

Fri, 2009-08-07 at 23:51:05

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Written by S

Wed, 2008-05-21 at 03:34:24

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Idleness, leisure, procrastination

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Here is a very interesting article called Quitting the Paint Factory by Mark Slouka. Although, of course, I’m the one who needs it the least.

Anyway, at least it led me to the Wikipedia article on procrastination (nothing great there) and to discover that there is (at least currently) a separate article on academic procrastination!?

Reading Aaron Swartz’s essay today, I learnt that rewards and punishments do not work.

There are a lot of myths about productivity — that time is fungible, that focusing is good, that bribing yourself is effective…

He also quotes Alfie Kohn, who has written books and articles on related ideas, and especially quotes one particular article. Others agree: Wanting to do the tasks is most important. Even David Allen thinks so. There’s also Paul Graham’s essay, in which he points out that having a to-do list and doing the things on it — the minor, unimportant “errands” — is also actually a form of procrastination that avoids doing the really important things, and that most of us use the errands as an excuse, and make sure we don’t have time to do the important things.

Ubuntu/Debian have a nice small useful package called gtimelog.

There is also planner mode for Emacs, and Timeclock, and they can be used together. There is a step-by-step tutorial here.

, but I think I’ll check them out some other day and actually do something useful now, for a change. There is also org-mode; screenshots in the tutorial and manual here. Orgmode homepage, another howto, debian package?, and Sacha Chua’s unbiased comparison with Planner.el.

Written by S

Wed, 2006-11-01 at 17:52:24