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How This MakeUseOf Writer Procrastinates In 8 Easy Steps

Joshua Lockhart 29-02-2012

how to procrastinateAs you may know, MakeUseOf isn’t staffed by robots that churn out articles daily through an automatic system (you’re confusing us with a few of our notorious spam commenters…). No, we are real people that all have daily lives, and as for myself, I’m a busy guy offline.


However, all of us have our own methods of getting down to the writing. Since I’m not a full-time freelance writer Top 6 Resources To Become A Better Freelance Writer If you're interested in pursuing work in freelance writing, there are a number of resourceful websites that provide real world tips and strategies. Read More , it takes me a little extra oompah to get myself started. With that in mind (and based on what I’m doing right now), I figured I’d give you a little insight into what I’m doing. Basically, here’s how I procrastinate.

The Realization Phase

how to procrastinate

The weekend is when I spend the majority of my time putting my hands on the keyboard. Throughout the week I have a pretty busy schedule, and although I know that there are other people who have a much busier life than mine, it gets a little hectic at times. I often forget what day it even is, so whenever it gets around to Friday night, I kind of panic, knowing that my deadline Meet Your Writing Deadlines In A Distraction-Free Writing Environment With OmmWriter OmmWriter is a writing application for Windows, Mac, and the iPad. It is based on the philosophy that in order to concentrate and be creative, we need a calm and largely distraction-free surrounding. Unfortunately, our... Read More is extremely close. Granted, I know I’ll always make it, but phew…

The Browsing Phase

how to procrastinate like a pro

When it comes time to write, I’ll sit down at my computer with great intentions. I think to myself, “Alright, Lockhart. You’re going to write a masterpiece this time. Your adoring public will love you, and you’ll get so many views that you’re just bound to make this article viral.”  I really don’t know why I lie to myself this way.


The fact is that I’ll get on my computer, pull up a tab for MakeUseOf, and then I’ll think, “Well… maybe one look at Facebook won’t be too bad.”  So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll creep people on Facebook, and then Facebook turns to Reddit, and then Reddit turns into whatever link Reddit sends me to Secretly Check Out Your Reddit-Using Friends with Reddit Investigator A few of us here on MakeUseOf like Reddit, and apparently so do quite a few other people out on the Internet. Some of those people like it so much that they even create their... Read More , and five hours later, I realize I still haven’t written an article.  Oh, and I look at cats a lot.

The Dipping-A-Toe-In-The-Pool Phase

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I’ll eventually pull up a new document to write on. Heck, I’ll even pull up my list of article ideas to see what I’m supposed to write next. But that’s all I’ll do. However, for some reason, I’ll think, “You sure did a good job opening a new document to write on, Josh. Man. You are working so hard. Maybe you should treat yourself to some microwaveable taquitos. No… no… I know. Why don’t you fry up some shrimp? Yup. Fry up some shrimp.”

You know what I’ll do at that point? Yes. I fry up some freaking shrimp, and they taste delicious.


The Denial Phase

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While eating my delicious shrimp, I sometimes will fall back on my other plan, and then I’ll go ahead and microwave some taquitos. They often come out very soggy and look very disgusting, but I eat them anyway. Granted, while raiding the fridge, I’ll sometimes see something else I like – say, something like crab cakes – and I’ll microwave those, too.

The sad part is that I know what I’m doing – not writing an article 5 Procrastination Strategies to Become More Productive Read More .  It’s blatant and obvious that I’m avoiding it. I’m a horrible person. However, the food tastes good, right?

The Considering-Copping-Out-Of-Life Phase

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While wallowing in my greasy-food-induced guilt and post-bathroom sickness, I will often contemplate life. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? I begin to believe I should hit the road – drop out of school, quit writing, pack it up, and start traveling the country by foot 10 Sites For Budget Travel & Backpacking Trips Across The World Backpackers are an adventurous breed. They are also awfully budget conscious too. It comes with the territory I guess, because the taste of adventure cannot be experienced from the luxurious couches and air-conditioned coaches. If... Read More or something. I think to myself, “Yup. I could live off the land, and then I wouldn’t have to write!”

However, this is all really stupid. I’m a city boy at heart – I couldn’t ever do anything like that.

The Courage Wolf Phase

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Granted, somewhere in all of this, I somehow make it through and actually write. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but something triggers it, and I’m given enough courage to bust through and pop something out worth reading (and sometimes not worth reading based on my commenters). I’ll write and research for a while, and somehow, by the end of the day, I’ll have an article of some sort 4 Rules to Ignore When Writing Your Personal Blog Let's be straight - blogging is fun and blogging is cool, there's no doubt about that. Of course, it can also be used by middle-school girls who believe that everyone in the world wants to... Read More .


It just happens. It’s like it falls from the sky. I sometimes feel as though I have magic hands that type in a mystical manner.

The Girlfriend-Made-Me-Dinner Phase

How This MakeUseOf Writer Procrastinates In 8 Easy Steps SickToStomach

Now, even though I’ve written an article 8 Tools That Will Make You a Procrastination Ninja at Work Read More , this doesn’t mean it’s over. Right before I hit that submission button, I like to review. However, during the review process, I’ll occasionally get that familiar text message from my girlfriend, Ashleigh: “Would you like me to fix you dinner?” You’d think after shrimp, taquitos, and crab cakes that I wouldn’t want anything. HA! Of course, I want something.

So I’ll take another bit of time to go see Ashleigh, eat up some food, watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, and then head home. Good times, good times.

The Panic-Because-Of-What-I’ve-Written Phase

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At some point – possibly because I had to step away from my work for a while – I panic when I return to my article, worrying that it will absolutely suck. I think to myself, “Maybe I should just email Mark and tell him the article will be late!” or “Maybe I should just turn in my resignation now – this article will make them fire me, anyway!” Yes, my friends, I worry about everything What Is The Imbecilic Art Of Vaguebooking? You may not have heard of the term Vaguebooking, but I can guarantee you will have seen at least one example of it in action. Certainly if you're active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any... Read More . It’s not the best quality in the world, honestly.


Eventually, after all this procrastination, overeating, and panic, I finally click that submission button, and the article process is complete. It really is a hassle for me sometimes, though. However, I really do try to avoid all this and get right to work.

Do you write for any other blogs? What kinds of procrastination problems do you have?

Image Credit: mantasmagorical

Related topics: Opinion & Polls, Procrastination, Writing Tips.

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  1. Arch
    March 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

    My problem is the Multi-path Quandary Phase. I write a political blog and at any given time there are easily three or four good articles I could write, but it is deciding what topic on which to focus. I start one... "A Decade Stuck on Afghanistan"

    I may get three or four paragraphs into it, then decide that Afghanistan has been done... for a ten fricken years already. It's beat. Then I go with something spicier and fresh... "America: Arsenal of Bureaucracy" here I nearly finish and suddenly... Julian Assange: Paul Revere or Benedict Arnold?

    I start doing my research, realize I should have been done with the article (any one) by now and console myself by leave a comment on Makeuseof about my writer's procrastination.

  2. Tina
    February 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Hm, my process is very different. I force myself to be straight forward and focus as I cannot afford to spend more than 3 hours on an article. Food and procrastination sometimes is my reward for when I have submitted an article. However, I also had to LOL at this, as I often think that as well: “Maybe I should just turn in my resignation now – this article will make them fire me, anyway!” Another great article, Josh! I don't see you getting fired anytime soon. ;)

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks, Tina! Baha. Well. I have my days where I can spend less time on the work, but then I have my days where I have to really struggle with my inner procasti-demons. I won't say which days are more often, though...

  3. Daniel Rosca
    February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Facebook to Reddit, Digg, Twitter is applying for me too. After checking all the links that I get I decide to change my mind about the article that I have to write. Even if I want to start the article as a formal one I will change to an informal one because I'm reading lots of informal blog articles about my researching field. I see myself next to my readers and I can not write an article in a formal style anymore. It's great to see how's your articles process going.

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Ha! Well. This is certainly not a set process. But it is one of many, for sure. I've also seen the idea of being "next to my readers." I prefer to write in a conversational format.

  4. Author
    February 29, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Very good. I enjoyed reading that. Distractions are certainly the biggest problem when it comes to writing. I try and write offline, having previously done all the research. This prevent me from wasting additional hours surfing in the name of 'research'.

    But your coin has a very different other side. Did you consider the fact that these distractions are taking you away from writing -not writing an article but the task of writing itself? After all said and done it is still easier to do what you love to do rather than what you need to do.

    One simply must want to write not need to write if one shall write a masterpiece. Perhaps this is not the art you desire?

    In certain cases, a break from the environment that distracts you might be the ideal solution. Perhaps you can write over at Ashleigh's place?

    Distractions aside, my other major hurdle is probably very silly: I need to find the software and its options 'beautiful' before I can write. The font too needs to be different. To the extent that I have tried so many different word processing applications that I still haven't found one that appeals to me. I am stuck with MS Word constantly trying a different font each time. I suppose it doesn't matter, as once it is published/posted it eventually changes to conform to a standard. But for me to write anything what I am writing on needs to be beautiful as much as what I am writing about.

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm

      Valid points. I enjoy what I do. However, occasionally there are hurdles with anything you do. If I had more time, I'd love to be writing even more things, and I will eventually get that time. However, I'm at a veryyyy busy point in my life, and though I see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's still a good ways from where I'm at.

      As for your major hurdle, that's something I deal with too! In order to write well, I have to write in a serif font, for some reason. (Times New Roman or Georgia.) However, in order to read my work, I have to go with a sans serif. My deal is mainly the format, though – not the processor. 

      However, I agree with beauty.

      (I do sometimes write at Ashleigh's, but since I'm USUALLY working on a near constant basis – though this article doesn't necessarily reflect that – I try to devote some time to her. She deals with my crazy schedule enough, so she deserves it.)

  5. Chris Hoffman
    February 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

    What a brilliant post. (Right now I'm procrastinating by leaving comments on MakeUseOf.)

    Here's a secret: Us full-time freelance writers procrastinate, too. Somehow everything always gets done, though.

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      Very nice, sir. It's funny how that always seems to work out!

  6. Dave Drager
    February 29, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Nice and spot on! :)

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Thanks, Dave!

  7. Kevin Costain
    February 29, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Incredible.. I think the "browsing phase" should include searching Craigslist for inspired weirdness. Writing can totally be a pain in the ass, but for those that do it - I think there are rewards. At least, someone told me that.

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      I tend to search Craigslist when in fear for my job.

  8. Joel Lee
    February 29, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I loved this article. It hits so close to home!

    As a fellow writer, my Browsing and Denial phase are combined into Phase 1, and all of the other phases are combined into Phase 2. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about how I should be writing. When I'm writing, I'm a jumbled mess of tears, blood, and comforting ice cream.

    “Maybe I should just turn in my resignation now – this article will make them fire me, anyway!”

    This part made me burst out laughing because I think the exact same thing. Kinda creepy, actually.

    • J. Lockhart
      March 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Baha. It's so true, right? Sometimes we just have to be honest.

      Ice cream seems to always solve it all, though.