Thursday, August 19, 2010

Procrastination, some more thoughts.

I decided to write the second part here, in order to avoid having a very big article with two parts following a different path. In the previous post I wanted to address the real problem of procrastination in me and other individuals in the shortest way I could. Here, I will discuss various random ideas I left.

In the past I had a problem with that concerning my demoscene hobby. Originally I thought that one procrastinates because he doesn't feel like doing something. I believed that it usually happens when you HAVE to study, HAVE to work but don't WANT to. It worked so "nicely" with my mathematics degree in Greece that took me eight years to finish. But what happened with my hobby? Isn't that supposed to be something that you LIKE to do? First of all, I'd like to say that something changed in that, I went through and over it, I am not affected anymore. My last two CPC releases and plenty of unreleased coding experiments positively suggest that to me (it's not visible by productivity, it's only obvious when I remember how I felt WHILE working on these projects). This is because I changed my general attitude towards the scene. I have seen the false motives of my hobby and how vain they were. Yet I believed that the creativity of the scene and being part of it is still great. Not thinking about the results, the finalized project, the praises or blames of the scene but just focusing on what you really love did the trick. I just had to clean my mind and remember why I started with this hobby and which pure elements still makes it worth. I am really hotly motivated now for scene coding and focusing on doing what I love helps me to not procrastinate with this.

It only remains to see whether this "impossible" change has really happened. There is one suspicion that maybe I was more motivated in contrast to the real work I had to do in my studies (although I was more absent from demoscene activity more than ever this year, officially and unofficially). I compared my university obligations to demoscene. At least I said, if I don't finish a demo till the deadline, I am not going to fail anything. This is not my obligation, it's my hobby, it should be what I love to do not something I HAVE to do. I can be motivated to work with it because I LOVE coding and demos but I don't HAVE to work with it. It's not a final project, it's not a full-time job, it's the last pure thing that I can still enjoy while being creative. Well, it's not just the contrast with real life (and good avoidance excuse) that made the trick, it's also those thoughts. I was having these realizations for a long and sometimes they need years to really catch up. It only remains to see if after my studies I will still find myself in peace with the demoscene (I don't need to show productivity, I just need to not fall into the procrastination well (Wishing to WORK but CAN'T). I need to be able to let go if for some reasons I am not motivated and be able to return back at periods when I feel like working on demos. And be happy with all that.)

And so, this is my revelation concerning my hobby. It's also a revelation concerning some real life aspects (like feelings of not being normal, of HAVING to get a girlfriend (why?) and stupid unimportant stuff like that). Those things cured me. Maybe I saw them in contrast to other more real problems. Some of the more real problems are the occasions where if you procrastinate then you are busted.

What happens if you have a deadline for your final thesis? This is my current concern now. I know that if I work like crazy for a week I can still make it. I am trying now to convince myself that if I don't finish this one week before the deadline then I am busted (and that's the problem, I can't convince myself, I can't fool myself to not let this run till the very last night before the deadline :P). But I think I will make it with that. I just have to plan a week or more before the original deadline, something I NEVER managed to do before.

The other thing is job seeking. I made some attempts in June/July. I might have to do more now. I don't have a certain answer for a job position yet. And if I don't do this till the end of September or even before then I might have to return back to Greece and there is no future there for the kind of jobs that are maybe suitable to my programming experience. I am afraid I will procrastinate with that as I already did. Needless to say that I also failed (I write this for the first time in this blog) in some exam lessons (procrastination == I was never a good student) which means I am not going to get my master diploma this year and this might make it harder to get a job too. Also, all these things and especially the failure in the exams have brought me so hard down recently that I even ask myself the question whether I wasn't made up for this thing anyways..

The procrastination article link in the last post tells us that this condition is not something to joke about. And sometimes it's true about my own case. But sometimes I find myself also joking about it, being between a semi-serious/funny situation. Maybe it's just self-sarcasm.

Though it makes me think this about it: What if there is another factor, how seriously you take your procrastination, how much do you accept your life as it is?. There are people who don't even discuss about this problem. I know they can be great procrastinators but only joke about it. I sometimes laugh and sometimes cry. One could say that I haven't done something drastic about it because I don't consider it more than 50% a problem in my life? It's like say being a drunkard and sometimes saying "Fuck em, life is about drink and fun!" and other times "Shit! I should stop doing this.." and then again this cycle of a self-loving/self-loathing condition.

One could greatly say that one should accept himself as it is and one is fine by being lazy and only doing stuff when he feels truly motivated. And this is one lesson I learned, to accept myself, so I could accept myself not necessary having any obligation to do demos but only do them when I love it, I also accepted something that freed me and I haven't written much. That I don't need to be obliged towards real life stuff about normality or having a girlfriend. Many will disagree with these but why should we take these things seriously when there are other more real and serious problems out there (like the uni/job obligations)? Needless to say the more I was in sorrow because of all these matters the less motivation I had to do anything. So let's accept the unimportant and let's see what we can do with the important.

Of course, maybe the answer is that there is no cure. One(two) thing(s) I learned from a procrastination coursework I took part here at the university is that (at least the accepted) primary solution IS that you HAVE to do it at the end. No matter what, if compulsive task avoidance is similar to other addictive conditions like alcoholism (as presented by the same article link in the previous post), at the end isn't what we want to see stopping the addiction? Except if we somehow don't agree with this fact entirely, because there are sometimes where you just don't feel like doing things and maybe my personality reacts and doesn't let me be a robot. You see how I am busted? If this is the only solution then I am not exactly following it, expect when the deadline is very serious and still only with struggle..

..the other idea, which I forgot to write in the previous paragraph, that I learned from the coursework is that what we avoid is dis-pleasure. And it's true. We somehow have to try feeling those negative feelings, in a way accept them and live through them in order to get the good feelings of accomplishment. It's a nice thing to have in mind.

I will end up this ugly big post by mentioning my Procrastinooze trick. I generally don't like those anti-procrastination tricks that are supposed to work miracles but don't really do anything for me (or I am too lazy to even try them). But sometimes I try some because they are good experiments. This one is similar to those time tricks where you set up your watch/mobile to alarm you at shorter or longer hours (some also set the clock randomly some minutes back to not be late to an appointment) but here it's just an SDL application I finished yesterday that runs minimized and after a random number of minutes (from 15 to 45 or how much I want) it will suddenly and surprisingly pop up and play some annoying sounds and show noise in a window, till you press Space to stop the random snooze alarm and minimize it again for the next time. Once it might pop after 23 minutes then after 42 so it's really a surprise and when it happens I told myself that this is a signal for me to pause for a minute and try to perceive what I am currently doing right now whether it's work or ...procrastinating. It's like a random slap in the face every now and then to remind me that I have to do work in case I missed the clock. I tried this experiment yesterday by setting snoozing at every 30 minutes in my mobile but this was so predictable that I was expecting it. And so I can try the unpredictable now. Needless to say, I did no work yesterday no matter what :P

What can I say? Months ago I invented Procrastinopoly.. :)

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