Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In the Kingdom of Procrastinators

It seems like procrastination is the theme of the week. Let me share some of my time-wasting secrets and tricks to avoid writing.

1. Cleaning: This is a good one because it makes you feel virtuous while you are clearly procrastinating. The minute writer’s block hits, I decide that it’s time to strip all of the beds, put all of the fancy attachments on the vacuum, and get out the Swiffer. Everyone in my family usually knows when Mom has writer’s block or is just plain old wasting time: the house is immaculate.

2. Check out the blogs: I start my morning by reading my favorite blogs, starting with the Stiletto Gang, except for Wednesday, obviously. This usually takes a solid twenty minutes. After all, where would I find out about the television shows that I missed the night before? Or what 684 commenters said about said shows? After I’m done checking out the blogs, I go to the New York Times web site to find out where the international markets closed. (I have no money, know nothing about money, yet find the ups and downs of both the domestic and international stock market fascinating. Go figure.)

3. Hang around on Facebook: This can waste, collectively, a good four to five hours a day, depending upon how serious I am about procrastinating. If I’m really in the mood, I even respond to those requests to post “25 Things Nobody Knows About You.” I’m an open book; if my friends don’t already know everything about me, I’d be surprised. Yet, here I go, listing things like “doesn’t like onions,” “thought Barry Manilow was sexy and her future husband when she was twelve,” “sings in the car.” Stuff like that. I figure I owe it to the other procrastinators out there to post interesting tidbits like this. How would they procrastinate otherwise?

4. Call Annie, Ceil, Carrie, Tina, and/or my mother and any other combination of friends and relatives: Most of them have caller ID. A lot of the time, they don’t answer the phone. Clearly, they are not procrastinators.

5. Look at shoes online: Doesn’t matter where…Zappos is a favorite, however. They have probably a million different pairs of shoes on their site, plus free shipping and returns. I can spend hours looking at different types of mules, sling backs, or pumps. Let’s not remember that I don’t cause or occasion to wear anything but sneakers and clogs. But having a website that you can peruse for hours that only has shoes is a godsend. Especially to a champion procrastinator.

6. Surf the web: Where else would I have learned that the remains of Gene Roddenberry (creator of “Star Trek”) and his wife were going to be shipped into outer space? Or that New Mexico has toughened its collection on used car sales? Or that David Beckham’s soccer team is negotiating to keep him? Next time you’re at a cocktail party and drop one of these juicy nuggets of information into the conversation, you can thank me and my endless procrastinating.

These are just a few of my techniques. Thanks to the tough love of my friend and fellow Stiletto gal, Susan McBride, I no longer a) check my book’s “number” on Amazon; b) Google myself; c) read reviews of my books online. But I’ve found other ways to waste time that are just as fulfilling.

What do you do to avoid the task of writing or anything else, for that matter? Procrastinating minds want to know…

Maggie Barbieri


  1. Maggie, it's spooky how closely your "how I procrastinate" list mirrors my own! Except the shoe thing. I absolutely never look at shoes online (um, lightning can't strike when there's 6" of snow outside, can it?). Fun post!


  2. I decide that I have to cook an extra involved dinner that night, which may even require going out for some specific grocery item.

    Or, even better, I decide my "problem" is desk-fever and that I really need -- and, gosh darn it, I DESERVE -- a day out people watching and eavesdropping at a coffee house and/or bookstore, etc. Why, THAT'LL give me the stimulus I need to get working! It isn't at all just sitting on my ass for a few hours drinking coffee or tea, sporadically listening to my iPod, and reading magazines.

  3. I use some of the same ideas--though never looking at shoes.

    Hubby and I always take one day off a week to go to the movies. He is such a huge procrastinator about big projects I look like a piker next to him.