Friday, June 24, 2011

Procrastination (Workplace and in Life)

It's been a weird week this week. I think it's due to a combination of stress in finding housing (still searching...), lack of work, and pensiveness about my social life. Stress about finding housing in particular has been weighing on me lately. Last weekend was amazing, so I suppose this week's weirdness returns things to equilibrium.

And I've also been procrastinating big time, both in the workplace and outside of work. As evidence of this behavior, I have not been posting very much this week. I know sometimes I blame on the lack of interesting things to blog about but, deep down, I know better. I have lists of subjects I would like to share with everyone -- often I'm just too lazy to sit down and write about them. This post will be to address this issue of procrastination.

Let's first not condemn procrastination as one of the cardinal sins. Yes it is a bad habit, but I can think of many worse ones (e.g. murder, stealing, adultery). It is arguably more debilitating when we recognize procrastination for what it is: because then we can feel a sense of doom to this habit. Furthermore, it is simply not realistic to always be doing things and trying to fill our lives with tasks big and small. It's actually worse because then we would not have time to reflect on our experiences. Sometimes it is good to just take a break from things, lie down on the green grass outside (or just on your bed), and...relax. Contrary to Lenovo's most recent ad, we are not "do machines". We are not machines.

The above being said, procrastination can be a major issue that leads to negative consequences. The root of procrastination is, quite simply, delaying the execution of tasks. It can range from anything like taking out the garbage to buying a new car. My personal experience this week with procrastination has been with work more, and life less (though it is harder to gauge life).

Work-wise, I have been procrastinating badly this past couple of weeks with a project I am assigned to. The general gist of the project is that I have to test changes to our business system in order to see if changes have been correctly implemented. My procrastination on this project stems from two main sources: (1) this project is a hand-me-down from someone else, which means I do not understand as thoroughly, and (2) I have barely done testing at all thus far in my work assignments. The latter problem in particular made me uneasy, as it meant I had to ask for assistance from other co-workers. Perhaps out of a misplaced sense of pride, but I did not want to ask for help nor really understand the project as it was originally not my own. The result was most of the week spent consciously avoiding doing the work, before scrambling late Thursday and all of Friday. This is translated into the graph below (please excuse the language)...

This is terrible. Period. I finished the project now, but had this been a major project, I could have been in some trouble. One of the things I've come to understand better is that, unlike school, there is no place for any quality of work besides "A" level. You can turn in "C" level work, but you will either be asked to do it again, or be fired. More concisely, there is no place for anything below "A" quality work in the professional world. It's about taking things seriously, which includes asking for help if necessary. There is no shame in asking for help -- and it is a heck lot faster than trying to Google search the answers yourself.

On the personal level, procrastination has mainly been in the realm of working on this blog and learning to play guitar (among other personal projects). As a reader, you can readily see the results of procrastination: I have posted very little over the past week and absolutely fallen short of my self-created weekly targets for this blog. Learning to play the guitar has involved picking up the guitar, strumming it wildly for 20 minutes, before putting it down and forgetting about it. The culprit of these behaviors has been a combination of surfing the internet aimlessly too much (e.g. watching youtube videos) and perhaps the stress of finding housing. For the latter, I need to move out of my current place by next Thursday (less than 5 days away). Thankfully something turned up as of now.

To combat procrastination, I think it will be very important to set definite goals for oneself, create a personal mantra, and striving to hit those goals. It takes much diligence an self-control, especially refraining from things like surfing the internet aimlessly.

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