How to deal with procrastination

The day started off well – I had some ideas about how to continue with a client’s research that I had restarted yesterday, and I had the points in mind I needed to add to the report after yesterday’s fruitless search for convict records.

But when I actually sat down at my desk to do it…. nothing. I waffled around with email and volunteer tasks and other things. No good.

Here are my tips for when this happens to you:

  • Start the clock. I have a program that tracks my time on specific tasks, and sometimes it is enough to just start the clock for that task. It’s like making a commitment.
  • Put some music on. Not the radio, with talking, and not music that you would feel compelled to concentrate on. It has to be background music, or favourite music that you know well.
  • Move. Take the laptop and the paperwork and sit somewhere else. Sometimes the distraction at your desk is enough to put you off. Pick up only what you need and sit at the dining table, or out on the deck.
  • Start with a smaller task. Instead of jumping straight in to the report-writing, do something that’s related but not quite so involved. Something quick you can knock off easily. Like a blog post!
  • Walk. If it’s a concentration problem you may need to go for a quick walk around the block. Sometimes I walk up and down the stairs 5 or 6 times. Gets the heart rate going!

You may need to do all of these things, but you will get it done!

Procrastination station

It’s a windy Sunday afternoon, too windy to be outside, so I have no excuse to not be finishing my ProGen assignment. So what am I doing? I’m playing with the Society of Australian Genealogists website. My assignment is a proof argument – an article, or essay if you like, arguing a case for the solution of a genealogical question that is not straightforward. I have chosen the question of the first Riley in Fiji, and as I started writing it I saw how much work I still have to do before I can say I’ve performed a reasonably exhaustive search of all the relevant records.

The relevant records, unfortunately, are ships’ logs and books published by castaways that all have to be found and deciphered and searched for clues. I’ve got two, so far, that talk about my Riley and I may never find any more, so I’m writing about them. The extended deadline is the 30th September, which is getting closer! So much for the reason for the procrastination.

What I’m doing instead (besides writing this) is looking at the website for the SAG. It was developed using Joomla, the old version, by people who are no longer with the Society and so I have to learn enough of Joomla to be able to make fundamental changes to the website without breaking it.

To do that safely I need a copy I can work on, and I’ve always put off doing that until today, when I have something more urgent to do! I guess that’s how procrastination works, and at least I will have done something constructive.

I’ll add progress reports through the afternoon.

[4 or 5 hours later] I’ve given up on copying the website. Joomla 1.0 is no longer supported and I can’t find any way to just copy the whole thing. I can copy the content but it left out the front page (oops!) and all the menus, and the forms were created using a component that hasn’t been supported since 2006. So then I tried copying everything, including the Joomla installation, and I can’t get the 74MB up on the other server.

I’m over it.

I watered the garden in frustration. I’ll stick with Twitter, I reckon!