One of the things about having a lot of interests (or hobbies, or whatever), is that whenever I’m doing one thing, it means there are other things I’m not doing. So working on my novel means I’m not practicing the guitar or piano. And practicing guitar or piano means I’m not doing anything about the clutter that’s piling up all around the place. And picking up the clutter means I’m not answering email. (Or it would, if I were someone who actually got around to picking up that clutter.) And if I just meet up with some friends for dinner or a drink, then I’m not accomplishing anything at all that I feel like I’m supposed to be doing.
All this means no matter what I’m actually getting done, there’s always something to feel guilty about at the same time.
That’s one way of looking at it.
But this circle of procrastination is also a powerful engine for accomplishing things. Because when I just don’t feel like playing the guitar, I can be a complete bad-ass and put it on its stand and then move on to something that I was procrastinating about before. So not only do I get the naughty pleasure of slacking off, I’m actually accomplishing something.
Ha! Take that, universe.
Note: Apparently I didn’t invent this system. (What?!) For further reading, see for instance this New York Times article, which refers to the Stanford philosopher who wrote this Structured Procrastination post (and a book about it, too). And of course The New Yorker has published a piece on what it all really means. Or, you know, you can google “positive (or productive) procrastination” and see what you find. When you’re supposed to be doing the dishes.