Productive Procrastination

The thing about procrastination is, it feels totally justifiable if what you’re doing could be construed as productive. I was supposed to submit a certain piece of work about a month ago and I totally haven’t done it yet. I wrote 300 words of it when it was first set, but then I got stuck and I’ve been avoiding it ever since. Initially I was just ignoring it and hoping that something would magically happen to inspire me and the answer to the question would fall from the sky in a shower of blossom and birdsong. That didn’t happen. So then I decided that I was just going to read my long-list of potential texts, but got distracted after two (the ones mentioned in this post) by a theory text that I’ve been meaning to read since Christmas, which I’m now about half way through.

This week, rather than doing that late piece of work I’ve instead drafted an abstract for a conference (which I need to finish and submit today) and written the bulk of an article entirely unrelated to my PhD for an online magazine. I also spent the whole of Friday sulking about the election results, drinking beer and consuming a truly appalling amount of Chinese takeaway.

I keep thinking that I know what my thesis will look like, that I have possible chapter themes, but then I have an entirely conflicting idea and the justification of the first idea feels flimsy. I really feel that by now, seven months in, I should at least know my chapter titles, but I just can’t work it out. I keep thinking: ‘by next month I’ll know what I’m doing’, but nothing seems to really be taking shape. I think I just need to get over my aversion to writing, I think I’m getting too hung up on the idea of it needing to be good. I tell everyone whose work I edit that they should just free-write, get the ideas down on paper and then worry about things making sense afterwards. Why can’t I take my own advice?

I went back to the doctor’s today and got prescribed a new set of anti-depressants which, with any luck, won’t cause clotting, so I’m hopeful that things will start looking up again soon. My moods have been swinging all over the show, as has my productivity. One day I stayed up until 4:30am researching, one day I hashed out 300 words in one pomodoro; but then on other days I stared bleakly across the room at my desk and tried to summon the energy to even turn the computer on, or highlight one of the articles I’ve printed. I think my question is, how important is consistency? Should I be trying to do a certain number of pomodoros every day, or should I just accept that some days will be productive while others won’t?

I’m going to try to start taking my own advice, just get the ideas down on paper, don’t worry about how good they are.


This next two weeks I’m going to be back down South visiting family, I’m planning on taking loads of books and hiding myself away during the days, so hopefully I won’t waste too much time.

Word count: 2000 entirely irrelevant words

Gym: 1


7 thoughts on “Productive Procrastination

  1. Thanks for blogging about this. So much empathy with “by next month I’ll know what I’m doing”; I feel like my mind changes every day while the procrastination monster lies in wait, oh yeah, and that everything I write is word salad with sludgy punctuation dressing. I wish I knew the answer to consistency too! I know it’s easier said than done, however, like your lovely image advises: do look after yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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