I recently came accross this essay about procrastination. I found it quite interresting in general, and in particular it helped me articulate the main issue with my professional situation: I lack much needed time to procrastinate.
I think I view procrastination a little differently from the author of the essay, but in essence, I am in full agreement with his perspective. I believe the key phrase in that essay is the claim that "real work needs two things (...): big chunks of time, and the right mood."
Where I differ from the author is in the belief that, to reach the right mood, you need "bad" procrastination, i.e. what he calls type-A and type-B procrastination: periods of time do "do nothing", aka clean your house or office space, watch TV, goof off on the web, read papers that are only remotely related to your research topic... After a while of "doing nothing", the urge to get some actual work done does build up, but you're not quite ready to commit to the hard tasks yet, so that's the perfect time to "do something less important", such as reply to email, document recent work, admin stuff... And finally, the "right mood" is there, hard work can begin! That's when you need to be able to sit at your desk for hours without being interrupted by meetings, errands, domestic chores. At least, that's how I operate - well, how I used to operate... Because over the past few years, I have not been able to go through all the motions in the game plan. I simply do not have the time. I've been able to either "do nothing" and then "do something less important", or go straight into the "do something less important phase", but I never really make it to the last phase. Or if I do, I have to drop everything after five minutes to rush home. My errands and domestic chores are no longer of the kind that I can throw to the wind and just postpone indefinitely or even for a day. When it's time to pick-up my son from daycare, I can't just decide to let the teachers drop him off at the local police station until I'm ready to take custody of him. When it's time to go shopping, I can't decide that my son can do without proper food or diapers for a few days. I suppose I could decide that I will sleep another day, but that's treacherous when the little one will wake you up at 6 a.m. no matter what.
I realize it's a common predicament, but to this day, I have not found the right strategy to make adequate time for procrastination.