Beware of pseudo-work

One of my most important insights of the last years: Procrastination is cheating yourself. To procrastinate means that you waste your time in every way. You don't use it to do the things that need to be done, nor do you use it to properly relax and gather your strength. The truly worst form of procrastination, however, is pseudo-work. You may know the phenomenon: often you find yourself in a situation where you can't find the strength to pursue a thing effectively and instead you settle for minimally dealing with it in some way.

Maybe you have to write an extensive report or a term paper and instead of productively hitting the keys, you click around in Word's formatting menu. You might even design the table of contents or do other things that feel like work but don't move you an inch forward.

This pseudo-work is highly dangerous because it makes us think we are incredibly productive and gives us the feeling of having "really done something". But in reality, we hardly move from the spot. On the contrary: what feels like work ultimately also pulls at us and causes increasing exhaustion, which we eventually have to compensate for through relaxation and holidays. So pseudo-work not only keeps us from moving forward, no: it creates a negative balanceĀ because fatigue increases anyway. The short-term feeling of "having done something" is therefore quite expensive.

It is important to recognize pseudo-work and stop it immediately. If you catch yourself doing it, you have two options: Either you manage to get into productive work or you stop it immediately and do something else. For example, rest. Yes, that's right: "rest". I have noticed with myself that I tend to pseudo-work or procrastinate especially when I am exhausted or tired. So I get the rest I need and thus regainĀ the strength I need for my productivity.