10 tactics to master procrastination as a developer

In our modern, distraction-prone world, everyone is talking about procrastination. While some people seem to be natural procrastinators, other have a hard time of grasping the concept. I want to share some tips helping any programmer to finally become a master procrastinator. This is a five-minute read, so maybe save it for later.

1. Be obsessed with perfection

It is not done until it is perfect. If you are not sure you can complete a project, spend as much time as possible on research before starting. It’s even better never to start at all.

2. Small tasks are for small minds

Tackle the biggest projects you can imagine. Find the biggest, most intimidating project you can. Resist the temptation to split it into smaller tasks.

3. Prepare for the long haul

Expect every line of code you write to stick around forever. Take a moment and consider the responsibility that rests on your shoulders.

4. Asking for help is a sign of weakness

Don’t bother your colleagues with stupid questions or you will come off as incompetent. If you cannot solve a problem on your own, you should first ask yourself if this line of work is right for you. Only then should you involve a third party, maybe be asking anonymously in a forum. Keep your question vague and don’t bother following up with clarifying questions if you don’t get a helpful answer right away.

5. Mastery is overrated

Always work with the newest shiny tool or framework. In an ever changing world, the urge to stick to a particular technology is a sign that you are no longer able to keep up with the latest trends. Leave that to old men with gray beards.

6. Your work environment matters

Work from an open floor office, or better, from a cafe. Working in a quiet room with your door closed will make miss out on epic Nerf gun battles and turn you into a loner.

7. Put work first

When there is work to do, it is not okay to take time off. And there is always work to do. It’s best not to have any hobbies, but if you do, make sure they are work related. If you need some relaxation, sneak in a quick session of casual gaming during work.

8. Always be connected

Make sure to keep up with your inbound communication. You have to constantly monitor all available channels and respond to inbound messages immediately. Maintain a healthy work-life balance and pay attention to both personal and professional communication at the same time. Don’t forget to turn on notifications on all your devices.

9. You are your work

Don’t let the hippies tell you otherwise, your worth as a person is directly connected to your work. If you fail at your work, you are a failure. Consequently, never give your best. This way you always have a bit of headroom in the future.

10. Consider the consequences of success.

Just imagine that open source project you envisioned suddenly takes off. You will be busy triaging bug reports, merging pull requests and speaking at conferences. This project will take over your life, so it’s a good idea to finish Game of Thrones before starting.

Contrary to popular belief, nobody is born a procrastinator. Procrastination is a learned habit. Try to follow the strategies I outlined and you are on the right track.

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