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Will Freedom from Deadlines in Early Retirement Be a Good Thing?

or Could a Procrastination-Free Life Be a Real Possibility?

As early retirement gets closer, something that we find ourselves getting especially impatient about is the arbitrary nature of deadlines. Of course this is something that we’ve always known and felt, but while in the past this was something we could accept and move on, now it’s something that frustrates us, especially because of the “when it rains, it pours” phenomenon, which mandates that work deadlines must all cluster together to create these overwhelming and undoable masses of tasks that have to be completed simultaneously and impossibly.

To make matters worth, we are both world class procrastinators. As Association for Psychological Science fellow Joseph Ferrari reminds us, “While everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator.” He found that 20 percent of people are true, chronic procrastinators, though I think we might even be in some elite subclass within that. And this quote from him shows that he gets us: “It really has nothing to do with time-management,” he says. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

So here we are: riddled with deadlines but fundamentally incompatible with them, and unable to just do it. We deal with the deadlines, of course, mostly through the horrible help of what Wait But Why calls the panic monster. But we rarely feel good about what we produce with the panic monster in our faces.

It’s no wonder, then, that we find ourselves yearning — OFTEN — for the not-so-distant future date when all of those work deadlines will magically :::POOF::: away. But:

Will living a life free from deadlines really be a good thing? Let’s dive in.

OurNextLife.com // Will Freedom From Deadlines in Early Retirement Be a Good Thing? / Deadlines and Structure, Procrastination, Freedom from Deadlines

Here’s the answer: Um, duh, yes, of course it will be an awesome thing, that’s why we’re aiming to retire early. What a stupid question. End of post.

Just kidding. But before we can answer the question, let’s look at the role procrastination plays in our lives and what that has to do with all of this:

Procrastination’s Power in Our Lives

Research on procrastination is all over the map, and it feels like a still-nascent field for psychology. Sort of like how dietary research tells us that fat is horrible for us and good for us, that cholesterol is killing us and is harmless, and that sugar is the real culprit but is probably also fine. Bottom line: researchers still haven’t quite cracked this nut. Some research suggests that procrastinators have higher rates of depression, anxiety and — most tellingly — impostor syndrome, that feeling that you’re not worthy of your success and that you don’t know what you’re doing. Other research, like some of the stuff in this TED Radio Hour, suggests that procrastination is linked to higher creativity and non-linear thinking (though whether that is causation or correlation is unclear).

Mr. ONL feels that impostor syndrome in a big way. I feel it a little bit, but mostly just feel a huge sense of overwhelm that occasionally flows over into helplessness when work moves too fast. We’d love to think that we’re both those mythical procrastinating creative, non-linear thinkers, but we’re often too stuck in the dark playground to experience the joy of the creativity when it shows its head. (Though other times, inspiration strikes before the instant gratification monkey can get in the way, and posts like this one just fall out of me. Or then there’s this post you’re reading, which I’m writing at 2 in the morning, maybe just minutes before you read it. Because I even procrastinated in writing my procrastination post.)

(By the way, the “panic monster,” “dark playground” and “instant gratification monkey” language is drawn directly from Wait But Why‘s fantastic post series on procrastination. A must read for anyone with the affliction. And if you think that me maintaining this blog regularly is proof that I’m not actually a procrastinator, gaze upon this perfect bit of wisdom from WBW’s Tim Urban on blog writing: “Writing regularly with an immediate audience is an example of a terrific match for a procrastinator’s personality, because it puts his Panic Monster in the optimal location—it aligns the Panic Monster with his most important endeavor.” But then, he adds, “I pulled a lifespan-reducing all-nighter to finish this post.” I know that feeling, pal.)

Procrastination and Deadlines

For years we beat ourselves up about being procrastinators, I read books about how to stop doing it and we each tried a million to do list strategies. Eventually, though, we both just kinda resigned ourselves to the fact that this is how our brains are wired, and there’s no changing them. So we started to connect a different set of dots instead of the cause and effect of our incompatibility with much of work:

OurNextLife.com // Our Procrastination Process

In this new way of thinking, procrastination isn’t the problem. Deadlines are the problem, the more arbitrary the worse. If only we could escape deadlines, we’d be happy. (Because, you know, “If only we could get to X, then we’d be happy” is a totally non-magical way to think. *sarcasm) Even if we don’t try to link the end of deadlines with something as lofty as happiness, removing deadlines from our life would have to have a positive impact like this, right?


Aw nuts, still back at happiness. Well let’s just go with it then, and ask the tough question:

Will Fewer Deadlines Actually Lead to Happiness?

In The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey talks about something called the Eisenhower Matrix, because Dwight Eisenhower was apparently a great master of efficiency and prioritization:

Good old Ike would like us to focus on the top row tasks most of all, those that are important but not urgent, and those that are important and urgent. Those tasks that are not important are not worthy of our time.

Unfortunately, procrastinators tend to dwell in those bottom row tasks — those that are not important or urgent, and those that are urgent but not important. Sometimes the panic monster forces us to focus on the upper right tasks, those that are important and urgent, but we rarely get to the ones that are the most important of all: the important but not urgent tasks.

Things that fall in the important but not urgent category are: writing a book, taking on a new creative endeavor that our soul is yearning for, planning that big trip we’ve always wanted to take, or anything else that stirs up a lot of resistance. (The War of Art, the book the notion of “resistance” comes from, is another must read for any procrastinators who wish to create in spite of ourselves.)

All of the big plans we’re making for our early retirement hinge on being able to tackle some important but not urgent tasks, preferably quite a few of them — writing beyond this blog, planning big trips and climbing expeditions all over the world, discovering new avenues for creativity. None of those things have deadlines associated with them, and it would be all too easy to fritter away the months and years without ever getting around to them, just as I wrote my college thesis in a two-day stretch rather than pacing myself and doing it over the course of the year.

Rethinking Deadlines

We’ve mapped out our purpose and feel good that we know what will make us feel fulfilled after we’re no longer working:


Though it doesn’t rise to the level of deal-breaker, it’s hard to think that we’d feel fulfilled and like we’d spent our time in a worthwhile way if we didn’t end up doing any of these things in early retirement. We’ll always stay open to the possibility that life will take us in a direction we never could have imagined, and that we’ll do all kinds of other amazing stuff that was never on our radar before, but it’s hard to believe our situation would change so much that we’d completely change our purpose or what interests us.

Which means: If we actually want to check some of this stuff off our list, we have to make a plan for getting things done. Which means: Deadlines.

We’ve accepted that deadlines will always be a necessary evil in our lives. Though we want to create as much space as possible for unstructured exploration, we know that we need an impetus to do the important stuff, not just the instant gratification stuff.

What will change is who is setting the deadline and what it means.

We’re still hopeful that the end of our careers will also spell the end of the arbitrary, meaningless deadlines, as well as those imposed on us by others, all of which seem to coincide with one another. We can be smart about setting them, and make sure they don’t conflict with each other. And we can try to align them to dates that make sense for that goal, so that there’s some meaning behind it.

But if we want to live the purpose-driven life we envision for ourselves — or, frankly, just a life where we do more than the instant gratification thing each day — then we need to embrace some form of deadlines. Deadlines may not make us happy, but living a meaningful life sure does, and we now realize we can’t have one without the other.

What Do You Think?

Any other chronic procrastinators out there? (I’m guessing yes — reading blogs is an A+ way to procrastinate!) Anyone else thought about what place deadlines may or may not have in your post-work life? Will you struggle to check important things off your life list, or are you more naturally self-motivated? Let’s talk about all of it in the comments!

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66 replies »

  1. Oops, maybe i procrastinate also. Nothing is important till it is urgent. I often read blogs in stead of working out the new blog idea I gave..
    For me, a deadline gives a sort of sense and purpose to the goal. Otherwise, it stays just a dream…

  2. I tend to procrastinate some, but have gotten better about it. My last project had a crazy deadline, even more ridiculous amount of deliverables, and yet I wasn’t stressed, and essentially whistled my way through it, while still getting to read blogs, surf news, etc…

    I’ve learned to accept my Panic monster, but for me he’s a Panic monkey, like a little Macaque sitting on my shoulder getting louder and louder as the deadline gets closer. :) I’ve learned what can and can’t be done, and I still pretend to be “stressed” about it because I don’t want to deliver miracles and have people think it’s the new norm. Hahahaha, nnnooo…..

    I’ll still ahe deadlines when I quit “real work” they’ll just be in a different form, most likely related to kids and their school and activities. While they probably won’t be the same pressure as work deadlines, that’s perfectly fine by me. I’ll still be somewhere on the bubble path to happiness, much like I am today. :)

    • Oh, dude, I’m even jealous of your panic monster! Mine is like a 2000 pound King Kong who would crush your cute little macaque. ;-) And I’m pretty sure Mr. ONL’s panic monster is more like Godzilla, based on the symptoms he displays when he’s in the throes. Also, the more you talk about it, the more I’m convinced we went into the wrong career paths! Hahaha.

  3. I just read Gretchen Rubin’s “Better Than Before” and I know hands down that I am a true procrastinator. I’m also a rebel, and I don’t see deadlines as absolutes. It’s terrible, and frustrating. The idea of actually living without them is pretty incredible. I’ve never thought of it as a way to think about FIRE before. It definitely makes it an even more attractive prospect.

    • Rebels unite! That’s me too, all the way. Terrible for my work sanity, absolutely. And it will be so interesting to see how we evolve on this. I want to go into ER with less structure and expectation, but I think it’s good to know that I might end up needing some deadlines after all… or I might not. But either way, I’ll learn a lot!

  4. I’m not much of a procrastinator. Somewhere in my mind, I see a deadline and interpret it as “I need to get that done a week before that.” This has paid off when kids get sick or other unexpected things pop up, but it also causes a lot of undue stress when I feel behind because I’m not far enough ahead. Impossible deadlines feel horrible, though, I agree. I have to imagine making your own deadlines will feel differently. Maybe there’s a different word you can call them :)

    • People like you are 100% my heroes and are completely foreign to me. :-) I can’t imagine habitually getting things done early because I have never once done that! But it sure sounds great! And I love your idea of renaming deadlines to something more fun. ;-) I’m all ears if you have suggestions!

  5. I will always put deadlines on myself. I live and breathe for to-do lists even if they’re for things like going for a jog or something else that I actually enjoy. On one hand, I might be able to loosen up a bit if I weren’t working. But I really believe that part of my personality takes great satisfaction in accomplishing tasks, even if it’s about relaxing (not that that is what early retirement is). I really like that TEDTalk, too!

    • I put deadlines on myself too… but then they often slide. I’m SO CURIOUS to know if that stays true in ER, or if I can actually focus on my own stuff when I don’t have that pesky job in the way. Because procrastinators take just as much pleasure in checking things off the list, it’s just a different path to get there. :-)

  6. I used to be a major procrastinator and remember the Wait But Why post being hugely powerful when I first came across it.

    I have found, strangely enough, that giving myself arbitrary deadlines helps me accomplish things that I want to accomplish (the things in the important but not urgent box). I’ll have a daily list of things that need to get done, and I will mix in tasks on larger projects or work without deadlines. The feeling of accomplishment and getting some of these larger projects done overrides the annoyance of the arbitrary deadlines. At least that is what I have found for myself. (I also have the benefit of the arbitrary deadlines being set by myself rather than an employer, which helps.)

    • So fascinating! Not many people can say that they used to be a procrastinator but aren’t anymore. I’m sure it helps that you have a bit more free time than folks with more-than-full-time jobs do, so you aren’t in constant panic monster mode like we sometimes are. That’s awesome! And even better that you’re focusing mostly on your own deadlines instead of someone else’s.

  7. Procrastinating is just the easier thing to do out of all the options. Before, when I was in school, I’d often leave pretty important projects until the morning that it was due, wake up at 4AM and do it then (such poor planning/working!)

    Nowadays I’m a fair bit better, or at least scheduling a lot more time to do things. We try to do a lot of short-term/small things first and then tackle a bigger thing too. That’s how we try to handle things. That way not many things can build up.

    Sadly there will always be bad things in life – even in blogging (like we all know :) ). But I’m sure you’ll enjoy those more.


    • We’ve both done our share of getting up at 4 am to get something done before work starts (That’s basically the same as close of business the prior day, right?!). ;-) But how wonderful that you’ve found some better systems that are working to keep you on track!

  8. Super star procrastinator here! (And yes, reading blogs is my favorite procrastination technique!) This is a real concern for me after I leave the working world. I know that I always feel better when I accomplish things. But I am terrible at setting my own deadlines. I need a procrastinator’s support group or something to be accountable to!

    I did not realize that being a procrastinator and imposter syndrome were correlated, but it makes total sense! I do think it is very impressive that you keep up this blog schedule. That does not seem like procrastination to me. Nice work!

    • Yay procrastinators! Maybe we need to start a virtual support group to keep ourselves accountable. But then we’d probably put off meeting, and then something would come up, we’d all get sidetracked, and… ;-)

      The blog has been my biggest anti-procrastination success in a long time, though I still procrastinate on it plenty. Not gonna lie — having the unbroken posting streak helps my motivation a lot!

  9. I don’t really thinking reading blogs is procrastinating. I enjoy it. It’s a hobby. But with regards to after pulling the plug from the day job, I think I’ll be able to exert that energy into things I want to accomplish. Whether that is reading a book, starting a small business, working out, maintaining/growing relationships, etc.

  10. Let’s call them “live-lines” instead. So much more appealing and much more optimistic.

    Even in the trickle-down delegation of tasks, execs still have timelines imposed upon them. The CEO will even be at the beck and call of his /her board to some extent.

    Getting used to a different pace of tackling our “live-lines” will be interesting. We will no doubt be placing a deadline on that in terms of how long it should take us to get accustomed to the new way of doing things. Oh hang on, scratch that – falling into old habits…..dang it!

    • Oh, I like “live-lines” so much better! :-) You’re so right that even top execs have arbitrary deadlines, and I completely confess that I create arbitrary deadlines for people all the time. That is just how it goes. But yeah, like you, we can’t wait to flip the switch and figure out a new way of approaching our “live-lines.” ;-)

  11. I make to do lists and then do the most appealing thing on the list. As long as the big projects are less appealing, they won’t get done, so I have to trick myself and not put anything new on the list until the things I’ve been dreading get done.

    • That’s a great life hack! Way to know yourself and your own tendencies. I definitely sometimes start loading up the to do list to avoid the things I don’t want to do. :-)

  12. Oh man. I have a love hate relationship with procrastination. It’s the best motivator for me by far, but not healthy in a work environment where other people are dependent on the little steps along the way. In school I was able to outsmart my work but I can’t do that in my job. It’s a gnarly situation.

    Although I have to say, I procrastinate on literally everything. Cleaning, paying bills (only been late once!), creative endeavors….. If I can put it off, I will. I’m working on it! Great post.

    • Yeah, I completely relate to the incompatibility between procrastination and modern work because of those little steps along the way. If work was like Project Runway, and we each just unveil our collection at the end, we procrastinators would probably be just fine, if a little more sleep-deprived than everyone else. ;-)

  13. I have to confess that I’ve never been much of a procrastinator. In school, I would always get my homework done ASAP so that I would have the rest of the night, weekend, week, whatever to do what i want. If I had free time in between classes, I would go to the library and get homework done rather than go back to the dorm to goof off. You could almost say that I work hard in the least time possible to maximize the time that I can spend doing what I want. (Is it a surprise that FIRE is appealing?) That’s what I loved about school, there was a very clear objective with defined measurements. Real life doesn’t work like that unfortunately.

    So maybe I need to pursue a career with some arbitrary deadlines? ;-) The problem I feel is a lot of the jobs that have quotas that are just not realistic or achievable (there was an article that came out recently about Wells Fargo employees fraudulently opening new accounts to hit mandated quotas to survive ). In that case, you’re really just putting yourself in a spot to beat yourself up for failure.

    I definitely crave structure and routine in a big way when thinking about the long term of living my life, but there’s no reason the source of it has to be a financially lucrative career. Or that the routine has to happen in the same city every day. That is to say, I’m with you, deadlines aren’t all bad, but it certainly sounds a lot more fun when the deadline you have is imposed by yourself vs. a deadline imposed by an employer.

    • I can so relate to this and funny you mentioned Wells on this – totally thought about the previous post here regarding the crazy hours and expectations in our society to produce more, more and more!

      • To clarify, because that came out a little too stream of consciousness. ;-) “Wells” made me think of HG Wells and The Time Machine, and I was wondering if, back when he wrote it, he even contemplated “retirement” in the first place, let alone early retirement!

    • Oh, you pesky non-procrastinators and your efficient ways. ;-) I think it’s an interesting question of whether you’d be better off in a career path with arbitrary deadlines. The good thing is it’s not all or nothing — few employers do what Wells Fargo does and put that level of pressure on employees. Most have a view that’s a bit more realistic, though still perhaps unsustainable. But either way, we’re pretty excited for the day when all of our deadlines will be our own!

  14. I am very familiar with that panic monster. Procrastination is probably one of the reasons that I’m so miserable at work. I just can’t seem to concentrate, because there is always more time. Yet with urgent projects, I’m a laser-focused productivity machine.

    As you know, our goals involve some part-time employment to pay for living expenses after the debt is gone and we have some investments accruing interest. My thought is that by only having assignments with concrete deadlines will help me with my procrastinator tendencies.

    PS – My senior thesis was turned in a year and a half after I walked across the graduation stage. The date on my diploma is not when most people think I “graduated.”

    • What you’re describing is me exactly — total procrastinator on other people’s stuff, but so much more productive on my own things. (Hence this blog!) And I technically graduated late, too, because I took way too long to wrap up my final independent study! Another thing we have in common. :-)

  15. I only procrastinate on the things I’m dreading. Hopefully this won’t be an issue in retirement, since things should shift and there will be more that I want to do vs. have to do.

    I’m a rule follower, so I always meet deadlines, even if I don’t agree with the rules/parameters/deadlines (fear of punishment maybe?). I dream for the day where those all disappear so I can feel more free. I’m more of a “when the mood strikes” kind of person and would rather do things when the feeling hits so I might not get much done but it’ll all be at a time and in a way that better suits me.

    You’ll have to share with us what some of your deadlines in retirement look like and how they were determined :)

    • It’s so interesting to hear the different forms that procrastination can take! I wish I was a rule follower, but sadly I’m a rebel, and I can’t even respect a deadline. ;-) I do love when I can do things when I’m inspired — the result is always better! And I’ll definitely share our new way of thinking about deadlines once we figure all of that out… IF we figure all of that out. ;-)

  16. For me working out was something I always procrastinated about until I just skipped it. It was never critically important if I did it or not so it was hard to motivate. I ended up getting over this by not thinking about it and just doing it. The more I thought about working out the less likely I was to actually do it.

    • That’s totally me too. I now don’t view exercise as optional and it has made a huge difference! Sadly, that same idea doesn’t seem to apply to work. ;-)

    • That’s super great to know! We’re for sure okay with a big drop in productivity (right now we’re WAY TOO productive), but we still want to focus on the stuff that’s important. So looks like we’ll need to embrace some deadline-setting for ourselves!

  17. Oh my gosh, I am a huge procrastinator! I was the one in college writing my term paper the night before even though I had 3 weeks to work on it, but didn’t start on it until 10pm the night before turning it in!! I realize that when I truly procrastinate on something, it is because I really, really, really don’t want to do it, and I have to push myself to get that something done.

    Procrastinators unite! Ha :)

    • Procrastinators unite! :-) But geez, you started your papers at 10 pm? That’s so early! I was definitely a start-at-1-AM-type. Hahaha. It’s interesting to hear about why people procrastinate. Sometimes I don’t want to do the thing, but most often I think I’m driven by some level of fear, most often the fear of it not being perfect.

  18. Yep, definitely in the procrastination camp over here! I’ve always been an eleventh-hour sort of student, employee, etc. Perhaps in early retirement, the fact that you’ll have the freedom to set your own deadlines will be a positive. You might not relish every moment of meeting those deadlines, but at least the irritation of a deadline arbitrarily set by a boss or supervisor will be gone! You can remind yourself that those deadlines are being set by you, in service of your personal goals and wishes. I find I enjoy meeting my own deadlines much more than I ever did for someone else.

    • Woot procrastinators! ;-) Yeah, I’m sure hoping that you’re right! If I set the deadlines myself, or if we set them ourselves, then we’d hope they won’t feel arbitrary. But I do think we’re still going to need deadlines, just given how we’re wired! Glad to know you’ve found your own deadlines easier to swallow.

  19. I believe that first and foremost ( at least in my mind’s eye ) that it will be necessary to “detox” from the working life/schedule before many of us even know what the new normal will look like. What will be “critical” vs “optional”? I’m looking forward to one day soon finding out. :)

  20. What a fun post! I am the complete opposite – I am the person that plans things years in advance and almost without fail has checked all plans off the list, though I don’t freak if a plan needs to break…..I remember being 9 years old and telling my parents exactly what was going to happen with my athletic career and literally planned it for the next 12 years (which is just how it happened). I also like deadlines and structure, and often am the person that finishes things way early….

    That said I am not going to miss work deadlines at all, instead I am going to have life goals with a general timeline (example do the hiking trips on my list first, when my legs are most likely to cooperate). If I had zero plan or idea of what to do and just sat there doing nothing I would be bored, but checking things off the life list will be such a thrill I bet!

    For me, the thing I look forward to gaining most during FIRE is slowing down. I am kind of obsessive (if you cannot tell) so when I ‘detox’ and take better care of my mind and body then it becomes MUCH easier to still plan and research like its my job, but live for TODAY (being present) and not for tomorrow.

    • Thanks! Whoa, you are the super organized doer person that we completely envy. I feel quite certain that I have never once in my life completed an assignment early. :-) I’m so glad that you mentioned slowing down and taking care of yourself in order to stay present — that’s so important! Whether any of us are self-motivated doers or panic-monster motivated procrastinators, it’s still easy to focus on the future, the past, whatever, and lose track of the present. :-)

  21. Finally a picture of Chicago and the concrete jungle instead of all of those “ugly” photos of mountains, green grass, trees, and landscape;) See you guys soon.

  22. Interesting view. I’ve usually thought of procrastination as putting off something we don’t want to do. How difficult is it to wake in the morning if you know you have some dreaded work-related task? How easy is it if something “fun” awaits? Another view I’ve heard is perfectionist procrastination – wanting some project to be perfect so putting it off until every circumstance is just right which usually never occurs. As far as being a procrastinator, I’m probably somewhere in the middle. Not really one, but I do put things off on occasion. I like to-do list & marking things off of them so that is probably a motivator for me regardless of the task.

    • I think we both fall into that perfectionist procrastination category, because we even put off things we really, really want to do for fear of not doing them well enough. Or maybe we’re like Steve Jobs, and we’d say, “You call it procrastination. I call it thinking.” Haha. ;-) And that’s great that you’re not a real procrastinator — that’s a very good thing!

  23. I found that I am world class procrastinator unless write down all my tasks so that I can check them off throughout the day. The Checklist Manifesto was a big driver of this philosophy for me.

    Although I find when my wife is out of town and I don’t have a honey do list that I am incredibly idle and it’s easy to watch football all weekend :)

    • How fantastic that you found a system that works for you! I’ve had that book on my reading list for ages but I will have to move it up the queue. :-) And sometimes you just need to waste a weekend! I think that’s totally excusable. ;-)

  24. Oh gosh, I wish I could write a blog post in one sitting. I usually need at least four separate sittings, spread across several days. It’s not very efficient, but it’s the only approach that works for me.

    I think this post is very smart. I appreciate that you still want to, you know, DO things in retirement, rather than taking the rocking chair approach, and it seems important to consider what that will actually entail. I personally think I get 1000% more accomplished when tasks/deadlines are externally imposed, but that might just be me. (And maybe getting the Max Amount of Stuff Accomplished isn’t really the goal anyway.) In any case, it’s cool that you’re thinking through this ahead of time.

    I keep meaning to comment on your bootstrapping post but somehow haven’t gotten there yet [blah blah deadlines work sleep blah blah].

    • I would LOVE to spend more time on posts (I think I average 4 hours), but that is a bit of an impossibility these days unless I cut back the posting schedule drastically. So yeah, reality. ;-)

      And yeah, I would find it deeply unsatisfying not to DO BIG THINGS in retirement, even if they are only big in our minds. I’m naturally a do-er, but I think without *some* structure, I could easily look back and have nothing to show for all that time. And I’m the same way on deadlines, which is why I’m a smidge nervous about this transition — I don’t know whether my own internal deadlines will be as powerful or even powerful at all.

      I’d love to know your thoughts on the bootstraps post when you have time, but no pressure. :-)

  25. As a procrastinator, I know that I need some external controls on my behavior. Maybe that is just the undiagnosed but suspected ADHD??? Who knows? But I know that I struggle here and I know that I have to do work arounds with myself without judging myself. Sometimes this means that I don’t have to respond to work emails until I’ve allowed myself half an hour of reading blogs.

    For me, I tend to work on the Not Wanting to Embarrass Myself principle. I try to tell at least a few people the big goals I am currently working towards, because they are kind and check in. I don’t want to tell them I’ve done nothing.

    • I love that workaround, and the idea of giving yourself external checks and balances through social support. And certainly the idea of not wanting to embarrass yourself is a great principle to live by. ;-)

  26. I often find that if I don’t have lots and lots to do, then I don’t do anything. It’s the old adage of “if you want something to do, ask a busy person”. If I only have a few things to do, or only non-urgent things to do, then nothing happens. I wonder how we will all cope in financial independent future when there are no deadlines, and we are not as busy. Does that mean we won’t do anything, and we’ll spend our time bored?
    Something to ponder and prepare for!

    • That’s a good question to consider before you retire! I’m one of those people who’s always thinking of ideas of things to do, so I’m not worried that I’ll do nothing, just that I might not do the most important things without some kind of nudge. :-)