A master procrastinator shares 10 ways to put off doing things you don't want to do

Columnist Tammy Swift, a master procrastinator, shares how to "problameinate" (blame procrastination on others), "provoidinate" (avoid important tasks with busy work) and other "helpful" hacks.

Tammy Swift online column sig revised 3-16-21.jpg
Tammy Swift, Forum columnist.

It's 6 a.m. on a Wednesday and I'm in misery.
I am a master procrastinator (perhaps even a promasterator). I think most writers are. But I also have ADHD, which makes it harder to plan and initiate new tasks.
Additionally, research shows that people with this neurodiversity sometimes struggle with self-regulating the negative emotions associated with certain tasks, which is why they avoid them.
I've worked diligently with a coach to better understand how to circumvent these mental speed bumps. Even so, it still can be hard for me.
Over time, I've become such an expert on procrastination and the many ways it can rear its ugly head that I've invented my own glossary for it. Can you relate to any of the following?

Profectination (aka perfectionation ): When you hold such high standards for yourself that you turn any project into a task so epic that you’re now too overwhelmed to start it. Example: The teacher tasks the class with building a simple log cabin out of Popsicle sticks but you — forever the overachiever — decide to build the Tower Bridge in London, complete with toothpick renditions of the Royal Family. Now it’s 1 a.m. on the morning before it’s due, you are covered in glue and the sweat of regret, your Tower Bridge looks more like a burn pile and you’ve somehow hot-glued the toothpick Prince Charles to your forehead. You wonder if your mom would write a note that says you have to stay home because you’ve caught a touch of malaria.

Proplannination: When you cleverly put off the actual project by overplanning it. Example: “Before I organize the storage containers in the kitchen cupboard, I must first spend a week on Pinterest and watching YouTube to find perfect ‘storage for storage containers’ solution, drafting a blueprint of how the new storage will be used within the cupboards, measuring every storage bowl for proper stacking and fit, ordering the new container organization system and then sending it back when it doesn’t meet my expectations.’ At some point, you will decide you need to research the history of the Tupperware container as well as the history of plastic (these little diversionary side trips are known as “prorabbithole-ation”).

Provoidination: When you dread a task so much that you will do anything else to avoid it. This can range from productive distractions — cleaning your house from top to bottom or organizing the garage — to unproductive ones — binge-watching “Love is Blind: Uruguay” or obsessively detailing the dog’s toys and toy box with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide.

Procrastilyzation: When your procrastination is so advanced that you try to feel better about it by urging your hyper-organized friends to give it a try. “You wouldn’t believe the buzz you get from waiting till the last minute, Blanche! You haven’t lived life until you experience the adrenaline high of rushing to file your taxes by 11:59 p.m. on April 15!”


Procrastylisis: When you’ve created such an epic and insurmountable “to do” list that you are paralyzed by it. This is characterized by either staring blankly into space or curling into a fetal position and crying softly.


Tammy Swift portrait for Brightspot module

Hi, I'm Tammy Swift, a long-time columnist for The Forum. Over the years, I've written about everything from growing up on the farm and life as a single woman to marriage, divorce and the "joys" of menopause. I'm also slightly obsessed with my dog. Check out my latest columns below. Reach me at

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Proestimate: When you put off doing something because you’ve greatly underestimated how long it will actually take to accomplish it. “You mean I can’t landscape the entire lawn and paint all the trim on the house in two hours? Shoot. Guess I’ll have to put that off until next year.”

Procromnia: When you’ve left so much to get done for the morning that you spend the night tossing and turning over it. But do you get up and actually chip away at those tasks? No. You fluctuate between doomscrolling on your phone and heading to the pantry to eat handfuls of chocolate chips.

Procrabbinate: When your own procrastination is so vexing that you take it out on everyone around you. “Stop stomping around the living room, Mr. Kitty! Can’t you see that I’ve only got 45 minutes to write this 15-page research paper?”

Problameinate: When your "proshameination" is so great that you have to find someone else to blame for it. “I would have gotten this paper done, Professor Blustertwiddle, but the real culprit was Mr. Kitty!"

Proexploitation: When you give up and decide to cash in on your chronic procrastination by writing columns about it.

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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