TBDTPSC! It just flows right off the tongue. Tabidtipsssk!
Just saying the word brings me back to high school. Or college. Or, sadly, moments where I have any project to work on. So, now.
Leaving something to the last minute. Not working until the due date arrives. Waiting until conditions are “just right” before proceeding, when in fact the conditions will never be “just right” because you’re going to change the conditions once they’ve been met.
Procrastination, for many, is the enemy. But, I don’t think it has to be. As long as you can harness it.
Single Projects vs. Multiple Projects
When I work on a single project, I find procrastination and delays to be the norm.
“Ah, I can’t do that now. I’m not ready.”
“I’m really not in the mood to make that scene right now. I only have 30 minutes and it’ll need more than that to get finished.”
“Only an hour? Hmm. What can I get done in that time?” *watches YouTube for 40 minutes accidentally* “Nothing. I knew it!”
“I should work on this, but you know what I really need to do? Vacuum again.”
Single projects are dangerous because there’s only one major thing to work on. Your procrastination will push you away from it.
But herein lies the benefit. The procrastination does some pushing. And while it can push you towards minor stuff when working on one project, if you’re working on two or more, sometimes it will push you towards the other project.
Take this blog. During the periods when I’m working on nothing else, it’s hardest to write. Perhaps I’m not stimulated, you say? Possibly. What I’ve found however, is that I work on this blog when procrastinating something else. Making a game. Writing a novel. Making new lessons at school.
And so the cycle follows. Work on two or three big things (or things of various sizes) so that procrastinating one will push you towards another. And when procrastination for Project #2 starts, it pushes you towards #3. And #3 to #1. This continual pushing is perpetual, always pushing you towards something.
Now, this is all well-and-good, but it can’t possibly be this easy, right? After all, there are lots of times when having many projects open is so overwhelming that procrastination pushes you towards simplicity. Pushes towards YouTube and Netflix and the vacuum cleaner and dishes. Pushes towards not thinking.
This is where environment is important. After all, if you surround yourself with all these things, you’re going to do them. The TBDTPSC can only come into play when the only things in your life are those things that are worth doing. Procrastination will push you towards YouTube if YouTube is there. But if it’s not, procrastination can only push you towards something else. Limiting the things that it can push you towards allows the cycle to work effectively.
So, like anything else, the cycle works because of the environment it’s placed in. What it doesn’t require is dedication and hard work. Aside from the dedication and hard work required to change your environment. With is not nothing, I know. But it’s not as much as the dedication and hard work required to motivate yourself daily.
One Size Fits One Size
Naturally, the procrastination cycle is not the silver bullet, no more than buying one new shirt will make you super stylish. Big changes require wardrobe changes, complete. A belt does not a suit make, but it does help your pants stay up.
I find that for my situation, I have three tools in my toolkit. One: Ample time to get both adequate sleep (which I love) and have at least 30 mins to 1 hour of time to get something done each day. Also, time to take long showers to come up with new ideas. Two: Deadlines, like my weekly Friday deadline for my blog, my monthly deadline for my newspaper story, and my yearly deadline in March for my game for my students. These help me finish and push more things out than most things, but they don’t account for things like novel writing and general game development. Three: TBDTPSC, which keeps me always having something to do and something to work for.
I hope this is a tool you can use to further your own endeavors. And if it isn’t, I hope you find something good to help you stay motivated and working.