After a looooong time, I'm sort of on top of my todo list. (At least research wise. My car needs fixing and has been in that state for like a month.) This also coincided with a return to my wake-up-at-5:30-am-and-work-like-a-mania
c madness starting today. I think I'm going to turn into one of those organized people! (shudder)
There was a point in my life when pathological procrastination essentially threatened to destroy me; looking back, things were so bad it was almost like I had bipolar issues (I'm not saying that I did, and I'm definitely not trying to offer an excuse; merely trying to qualify how bad things were.) I'm not sure if a person who does not experience pathological procrastination can understand how bad it really is, and I'm not going to attempt an explanation here.
Slowly, year by year, things have gotten better. Then I hit 25 and things suddenly became a lot better. My behavior changed in other, related ways as well -- I used to ride my bike recklessly and seriously injure myself with some regularity; I no longer do that. Maybe it was just psychological, or maybe there's really something to the insurance companies' stance that on your 25th birthday you magically become less of a risk taker and more of an organized person!
I know brilliant people with procrastination issues. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to rationalize it instead of facing it and seeking help or trying to correct oneself. Some even go to the extent of writing long essays
constructing elaborate theories of procrastination and inventing supposed techniques for maximizing productivity through procrastination. As someone who's been there, I feel this makes good reading material but is really self-destructive behavior. My life, at least, has improved a lot in every way as I learnt to manage my problematic tendencies.
In my limited experience, habitual (especially pathological) procrastination tends to go hand in hand with perfectionism and poor communication skill. We all face frequent situations where an email like "I'm sorry, I couldn't complete the work, I'll try to get it to you by tomorrow" or "I'm sorry, I couldn't complete the work, here's an incomplete draft" is appropriate. Yet a pathological procrastinator is likely to do nothing at all. This is almost always worse than the alternative, because the other person typically assumes in reponse to no communication that the procrastinator did no work at all. I've been on both sides of this scenario, several times, and I'm slowly learning to be a better communicator. I also know people who are fantastically good at communicating, and it is a great pleasure to collaborate with them.
Just the other day I overcame my natural tendencies to sit on a draft that I thought was horribly incomplete, and was surprised to find that it actually exceeded expectations. Being open about the incomplete status of work is especially suitable in academia, where one isn't trying to maintain some kind of image, but merely trying to maximize overall productivity.
I didn't actually intend to write this post, but merely had the urge so say something at the end of an unusually productive day, and it turned into this :)