Procrastination gets Slashdotted

Slashdot, the tech news site with the tagline “News for Nerds. Stuff that matters”, generally reports on Cool New Stuff with a predictable editorial bent along the lines of Linux Rules! and Microsoft Sucks! When I read the comments, I get the feeling that the typical reader is a cranky Libertarian open source hacker that thinks most everybody else in the world is at least 25 watts dimmer than he is. But every now and then I see an item that surprises. For instance, look at this one, entitled How Do You Get Work Done? In it, a self-described procrastinator confesses his problem and asks for help. From the loud and prolonged response to this question, it’s clear that this is a common problem. Evolution may have equipped us with the ability to fight off a sabre-toothed tiger, but not a PlayStation and 150 channels of bad TV. Endless and immediately available amusement is one of the great troubles of our age. Here’s the original message.

I am currently a university student and have a major problem: being able to simply sit down and get work done. I can set aside a day to work, whether it is homework or contract work, and I will be lucky to have an hour done before dinner time. The only time I can actually get solid work done seems to be after midnight under a lot of pressure (ie. a deadline the next day) … I know many of you will have had the same problem. Can anyone please give advice on how to overcome this problem, be it a little trick, medication, or anything else?

I found it almost touching to read through the advice. It’s a rare enough thing to hear a young man in a public forum say “please help me.” But when it’s a voice amid the cacophony of cranky Libertarian coders, and when a hundred people swoop in with sincere advice, well, I think that’s encouraging. Heartwarming, even.

Now I happen to know that you, dear reader, sometimes have a problem with procrastination. How do you fight it off?

So much time to squander, and so little time to squander it in!