Q: I’ve been noticing lately that I’m just way too efficient. I get so much done in a day, I accomplish so many things, and I don’t know what to do about it. Help; save me from myself! How can I get this under control?

Many thanks,

Too Together for My Own Good

A: Hi Too-Together,

Thanks so much for your question! I like to say that I’ve been putting the “pro” in “procrastination” since I was born two weeks late, so you came to the right place! I have thirty-something years of experience, and I have gotten rave reviews not just for my methods, but for my commitment to my craft. I apologize for the delay in my response but, well, see above.

First off, don’t be too hard on yourself over this. Everyone has moments, days, months, and sometimes even years of over-accomplishment in her life—it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It can happen to the best of us. There are times when we just get in the zone, and keep doing things that actually need to get done, without taking the time to notice all the things that don’t need to get done which are crying out for our attention. As with anything, the first step toward a solution is realizing you have a problem, which you’ve already done, so you’re on the road to recovery!

Secondly, let’s not over-think this too much. One of the mainstays of a good plan for procrastination is not having much of a plan at all. Don’t allow yourself to be restricted by a plan; set yourself free and really explore your options. Your only limit is your imagination. Trust me—sweeping your kitchen floor can become a way to put off anything from filling out camp medical forms to returning that awkward phone call you really just don’t want to do. Get creative, and the sky’s the limit.

One excellent place to focus your attention (when you don’t want to focus on what actually needs your attention) is social media! I cannot extol the virtues of Facebook and Instagram enough, and I regularly turn to them when I need to escape the demands of the everyday. These both provide hours of scrolling delight with pictures of your friends’ kids, cute puppy and cat videos, inspiring, funny, or politically savvy memes, stunning recipes you will probably never make (especially if you take my advice), and one or two well-placed ads that are based on your last 5 Google searches. This, by the way, is another great gateway to professional procrastination: clicking on all the “suggested for you” ads and seeing what Google really thinks is missing from your life.

Next, we move on to YouTube. I’m a fan of Jewish acapella musical parodies and their accompanying videos. Sure, you could just listen to the songs while you get things done, but where’s the fun in that? Watching the entertaining scenes that play out along with the lyrics really is fun and endearing. Also, you can try to figure out which one of the boys would be a good shidduch for your single cousin. Another genre of video I like to lose myself in is American military service people who come home and surprise their families and/or dogs.  Don’t judge me; I’m trying to help you here! I usually cry like a baby at these (did you see the one where the wife is still in the hospital with their newborn twins, and the husband shows up right behind her and she just loses it??) and honestly enjoy the catharsis. Let’s be real—there are so many times we feel like crying but don’t because it’s not the right time/place/reason, so this is a good way to get it out.

Another building block of any good avoidance strategy is Whatsapp, specifically group chats. While it is possible to get into a good, long, chat conversation with just one of your friends, what if she’s busy? Throw out a good idea to a group chat, and you have the possibility of so many responders that you’re bound to be able to get something going—that should take up at least a solid 15 minutes. You can share Meaningful Minute videos and discuss their message, or pass around some of the inspiring, funny, or politically savvy memes you found on social media to get a deep and robust conversation going. Take note: employing one procrastination method to provide you with material for another one is not a beginner move, but I’m confident it won’t take you too long to get there.

Now, I recognize that the above suggestions are not just fun ways to evade any number of uncomfortable, unpalatable, and unpleasant tasks; they are also a bit of a waste of time. I say “bit” rather than “complete” only because I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that anything which serves to connect us and bring us closer to our family and friends can’t be called a complete waste of time. However, I do have some practical tips on how to sidestep the chores that must get done by doing other things that, while still productive, should really wait until the first things are done.

While I live by the mantra, “Why push off today what you can wait and push off tomorrow?”, sometimes it’s about pushing off something you really don’t want to do by doing something else you prefer not to do but will happily do instead of the thing you really don’t want to do. For example, cleaning out the cupboard under my bathroom sink isn’t usually something I would choose to do, but if it helps me postpone doing my taxes, I’m all in! If I know I have to do laundry but I choose to go to Walmart for toilet paper instead (and meander through the aisles, picking up 15 other things we don’t really need), I may be getting something useful done, but I have still procrastinated doing what really needed to be done. You see how easy it can be?

Too-Together, you are a good person who is just going through a bad time. I believe in you, though. I know you can make the necessary changes to bring your life back into balance. It will be challenging in the beginning, but if you persevere, you will be rewarded with all the added stress and unneeded pressure that comes from successful procrastination. Some of the hardest things in life are also the best—and they are worth fighting for. Don’t give up on yourself or your goal! Keep your eye on the prize, and I know you’ll get there. Just do yourself a favor, and start tomorrow.

Wishing you so much hatzlacha,

Professional Procrastinator

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Rina Deutsch teaches Judaic Studies at Ulpanat Orot High school, runs her own beauty business, spent 3 years as the Director of the NCSY Jewish Family Experience, and speaks on a variety of topics. Rina lives with her husband, 5 children, and way too much laundry in the Toronto area.