JOE WEBB AND CO. – THE WRITTEN WORLD

LESSON #14: PROCRASTINATION

Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on September 22, 2008

LESSON #14: PROCRASTINATION

typewriter8         Many of life’s so-called “experts” claim that procrastination never gets you anywhere, but I’m here to tell you that that’s not absolutely the case.  For instance, for the last hour, I’ve been putting off writing this post by randomly searching the internet for advice that other people were giving about how to avoid procrastination – and just look what I found…

         Apparently, there is an organization out there that goes by the name of the International Coach Federation.  This stellar organization (henceforth to be referred to as the ICF) makes its money by training a group of coaches who are available for sessions that will “help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.”  That’s right!  If, in your time of need, you refuse to turn for help to a licensed minister, psychologist, or a consultant who refers to himself as something other than “coach,” you can give this organization a call and they’ll set you up with someone who’s got answers.  It all looks pretty legit to me – just check out this certificate they give their coaches once they’ve graduated training:

        Anyway, at some point in time, a certain man by the name of David C. Miller, MSCC (I’m not too clear what the MSCC stands for, but I’m pretty sure it’s made up) went through the ICF’s certification process, and he now operates what looks to be the enormously successful, although slightly misleading in that it has nothing to do with sex change operations, website – www.translifecoach.com.  Luckily for us, among the many fine products offered by Dave’s company that will help improve your life, we find the Procrastination Buster Tele-Workshop Audio Program.  Let’s take a closer look at the sales pitch:

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Do any of the following observations about procrastination sound familiar to you?

•   You know if you took action in a certain area it would significantly improve your business, career or life, but you never seem to get around to it…

·       When you think about certain tasks you feel overwhelmed and defeated because you never follow through in getting them done…

•   You are constantly thinking or saying how you “should” do something, but you never do it….

•   You find yourself carrying around loads of guilt because that certain “something” doesn’t get the attention it deserves…

•   You never get around to certain tasks because something else always needs to be done first…

•   You’re frustrated because it seems like things will never change…

•   You want to stop procrastinating but you don’t know where to start.

What if you knew exactly why you procrastinate and then knew step-by-step how to truly overcome it and finally achieve the results you desire?

In this Procrastination Buster Tele-workshop audio program, you’ll discover exactly the reason you procrastinate and what to do about it.  You will discover the concepts, understanding, tools and strategies to overcome procrastination anytime you need to. At the end of this 65-minute program, you will:

•   Clearly Identify Why YOU Procrastinate

•   Understand What’s Really Behind The “I’ll Do It Tomorrow” Mentality

·       Participate In A 5-Step Process That Will Provide You With A Customized Prescription For Your Procrastination (And Show You Clearly What To Do About It)

·       Have A Detailed Plan Of Attack To Take Action Around A Specific Task You Have Been Putting Off

·       Know How To Put An End To Your Procrastination And Unleash Your Full Potential For Productivity And Creativity

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        I…am…sold.  And check it out, included in the package is this very official looking book, and this equally impressive audio CD – all for a mere $25 + $4 shipping and handling.  So, who said that procrastination will never get you anywhere?  I would have never found Dave’s Tele-workshop, or ordered three of Miller and Associates’ other books, if I had just typed out what I wanted to say in the first place.

         Oh, yes, that reminds me – here’s what you need to know about procrastination in college:

         1.  It’s not the worst thing in the world.  While making a habit or a lifestyle out of procrastination can lead to problems, occasionally you’ve got to remember to LIVE.  If it’s Tuesday night, and your rich uncle calls to say he’s got two extra World Series tickets for the game that night at Fenway, but you’ve got a Finite Math exam on Friday morning that you’re stressing over, you should go to the game.  Study on Wednesday and Thursday.

          2.  When you use the justification that you do better work when you are up against a deadline, you are lying to yourself, even if you believe it to be the truth.  While you may, in fact, experience a creative adrenaline rush as you approach the wire, the best papers are written early, allowed to settle for a few days, then thoughtfully revised.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that the papers you write twelve hours prior to handing them in won’t be good and won’t earn excellent grades, it just means that they probably aren’t your best work.  For some people this knowledge matters, and for some it doesn’t.

         3.  I realize the brain is actually an organ, but think of it as a muscle.  In much the same way that the average person can’t just go out and run a marathon, you probably won’t initially be able to sit down as a freshman and read a Tolstoy novel straight through without taking breaks.  Mental concentration and focus can only be built up through a gradual process of accretion.  Like running a marathon, the ability to sit down at your desk and focus is ultimately about the discipline to train yourself to do so.

          4.  There is a certain amount of work that has to be done over the course of a semester.  Whether you do it gradually, or all at the end, is up to you.  But, if you are looking for a way to lessen end-of-the-semester stress without giving up your mid-semester lifestyle, here’s the most important thing I learned in college about the workload.  Only a relatively small portion of the assignments that must be done require 100 percent focus.  For instance, if you are writing a history paper, dedicate the first four or five Sundays of the fall semester to doing the online archival work in J-Stor, while you watch football.  Wireless internet connections and laptop computers have made it completely possible to compile a good bibliography while watching the Broncos drub the Chargers.  Similarly, you can totally do your calculus homework while drinking a beer before you go out for the night.  Two birds, one stone.

          5.  I’ll fill in the rest of this post later…

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7 Responses

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  1. MS said, on September 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    As a non-blogger and previously non-blog-reader, how did I stumble upon Dr. Wizard’s advice for college students? Well, through my college students. Their inability to log off of computers and push in their chairs leaves me to do it for them once class has been dismissed. By way of a ‘crazy-random-happenstance,’ one of my students was reading Dr. Wizard’s blog instead of listening to my lecture and participating in class discussion and happened to leave his web-browser open to “Lesson #3: Think Bronze Medal,” advice this particular student attempted to internalize and put into practice on the spot, in what would be the Olympic equivalent of earning himself 15 seconds of fame on ESPN’s blooper reel rather than a podium spot. (See previous post to deduce that this particular student was most likely also wearing a heavy blend of Aquavelva and Old Spice – Hey Wiz PhD, how about a rant about technology as supplement to, not replacement of, class participation?)
    Intrigued by this and subsequent posts, I find myself offering various notes, complaints, corrections, weaslings, clarifications, pedantry, apologies, showboating, and addenda to Dr. Wizard’s sound advice to the apathetic and misguided college student. Which brings me to the current post…

    Procrastination: An Apologie

    An important ingredient of any Liberal Arts, or Holistic, education is digression. Though it seems counter-intuitive that a college professor (or two) would actually suggest that you should set down the book for a movie, a movie for a tv show, a tv show for a video game (from time to time), it actually makes perfect sense if you buy the idea that these media are all interrelated. If, for instance, you’ve been assigned to read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and you find that you cannot emotionally or psychologically interact with the text (and if that is the case, really, start reading more), why not watch the 1990 film Jacob’s Ladder as a point of reference? I know what you’re thinking, “MS, that’s a movie about Vietnam, and Slaughterhouse 5 is about World War II.” Here’s what I’m thinking, “Congratulations, you’re a perceptive motherfucker!” But remember, we were originally discussing emotional and psychological connection to trauma produced by war; I didn’t insinuate that you wouldn’t have to do some work to synthesize these responses. Now, if you’ve watched Jacob’s Ladder and you’re still not ready to return to the novel (an important point we’ll get back to in a minute), why not play Call of Duty: World at War or Medal of Honor: European Assault? Oops, I transitioned back to WWII without signaling you of that crafty maneuver. John Romero, the creator of Doom insists that the blurring of fantasy and reality is crucial in the production of emotional effects rather than meanings: “when the monster jumps out, real adrenaline roars through your body.” Burke would call this cathartic moment ‘sublime.’ (1790). And Boom! We’ve made a connection to a 1790 cultural critic and a 2000s video game developer. Now, as mentioned above as ‘an important point we’ll get back to in a minute,’ it’s your turn. Take that real adrenaline experience from the video game, strain it through the psychological terror you observed in Jacobs Ladder, and come to class ready to say something brilliant about KV Jr.’s Slaughterhouse 5.
    And before you make the argument that there is no need to return to the book if you’ve gotten the information from a film and a movie, you’d be wise to heed the warning of Liz Cullingford in “Reading Yeats in Popular Culture”: “Meaning may be elusive and difficult but close attention will usually uncover it. In the unified modernist work (and indeed in the modernist reading that most of us still practise), the text signifies all over: every detail is important, and therefore some knowledge of the original is indispensable to the interpretation of a literary allusion.” So, you’re not only using contemporary material to help you understand Vonnegut’s novel, you’re dialectically using Vonnegut’s novel to understand why you jumped out of your twin, extra-long dorm-room bed when your avatar stepped on a land mine in Call of Duty.

    In other words, use your procrastination wisely, and you too can be this awesome.

    MS
    UCDB

  2. JB said, on September 24, 2008 at 3:14 am

    in the last part you said film and movie. I think you meant movie and video game. At first I thought does this guy really expect me to read this entire post? But it was really very interesting and I might use some of those ideas in class. Do you actually know Dr. Wizard or are you Dr. Wizard or do there just happen to be two cool professors out there at a school I don’t go to.

  3. Frank said, on September 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    have you guys seen this site?: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

  4. MS said, on September 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    There just happens to be two cool professors out there at schools you do not attend. I’m certain there are more of us, JB, so sorry to hear that you haven’t yet encountered an enjoyable class. You will. If you don’t, we’ll consider not attending grad school – you’re apparently not addicted. Even heroine addicts think smack is the greatest thing that ever happened to them, just like I thought Dr. R_______, though shitty, still had a lot to offer.

  5. drwizard said, on September 26, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    #1) HONORARY MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COACH FEDERATION: Pat Riley, Bill Belichick, Pat Summit, Tony LaRussa, and Gene Hackman (mostly for his work as Norman Dale in Hoosiers, but also for playing the coach in The Replacements).

    #2) Stuff White People Like is a phenomenal website, although I think Christian Lander is more or less done posting now that the book has come out and he’s busy with the book tour. Also, the comments section has more or less devolved into people screaming at each other for being racist or accusing other people of being “the wrong type of white people.” So, basically, it’s just like the comments section around Dr. Wizard’s Advice.

    #3) JB – the only primary commenters who I knew before beginning the blog are Wodie and Barry.

    #4) While I was in the hospital, I actually watched two episodes of “Coach.” And maybe it was just the drugs, but Hayden Fox is…awesome. I would follow that man to War – especially if I had the 6-foot-6, 300 pound man-giant Dauber standing in front of me to block the bullets!

  6. Ghost Dog said, on September 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Frank, its funny that you mention SWPL. I was just describing the lessons on this site to one of my friends the other day as being kind of like training for college students to grow up to be the kind of person that is talked about on SWPL. Organic produce, vintage t-shirts, diversity, Obama, etc. Surely we can expect at least one post on study abroad at some point. And yes, I am Kirby Puckett’s son.

  7. Chris said, on October 25, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    If you like SWPL, check out http://www.whitewhine.com – Similar idea, and it actually predates SWPL


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