Note (added 3/4/12): The following guide to doing something completely useless was inspired by Liam, Head Phil, who has written multiple similar guides on such varied topics as failing, catching gnomes, and spotting fantasy writers. If you enjoy this post, and even if you don’t, I highly recommend reading them.
For anyone currently engaged in writing and/or going to school (the vast majority of the readership), procrastination is an invaluable skill to have. Just think what you would be forced to do without it: rot your brain on the Internet once your project is finished rather than now! The endless horror of the idea is too much for me. Therefore, to help my dear readers avoid the suffering that comes with a lack of procrastination skill (sometimes this malady is called “a good work ethic”), I’ve constructed this handy guide to the art of procrastination.
Tip #1: Get a Tumblr. Tumblr is one of the finest methods of procrastination ever invented by mankind. Endless scrolling through pages and pages of concise content, roughly eighty-five percent of which you will enjoy viewing? Why, it’s simply irresistible. Throw in the social aspects, and this site is next-to-impossible to leave. I don’t have a Facebook, so I can’t testify on its benefits to procrastination, but I can’t see how it can top Tumblr.
Tip #2: Make lists. Making a plan might seem like it would encourage work, and perhaps for some people it does, but for me it does the exact opposite. I strongly dislike structure and will resist following it, even the self-imposed kind, for as long as I can. Making a to-do list enables me to procrastinate indefinitely as I draw cynical stick-figure cartoons in the margins.
Tip #3: Convince yourself you’ve got your priorities wrong. Obviously reading this magazine/watching this video/organizing this closet/chasing after this non-existent abstraction is more important than some silly research paper. Writing crappy fan fiction that no one, not even your future self, will ever read will clearly benefit your career more than editing your to-be-queried novel. This may take a bit of self-motivational speaking in front of the mirror, but eventually you will believe this in full and be able to practice procrastination with little to no guilt.
Tip #4: Listen to music, but never on shuffle. If music helps you focus, then please, completely ignore this tip. Music, especially that of the loud-ish variety, can prove a phenomenal distraction for many of us, however. Never let your tunes play on shuffle, though–that’s a beginner’s mistake. Always select songs individually. Having to stop your work every four minutes or so will help protect you from ever starting your work in earnest.
Tip #5: Find a new fandom or hobby. Maybe you just discovered Homestuck, thanks to a grey-face-paint-wearing friend, and can’t afford to stop reading to pay attention to any real-world events. Perhaps you’ve only just realized that you thoroughly enjoy making trinkets out of old watch parts, taking artful photographs of said trinkets, and posting them on that Tumblr you created back at the first tip. With a new fandom or hobby to occupy you, procrastination on work will come so naturally you won’t even have to work at it.