Group Procrastination.
February 25, 2007 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for punishment suggestions for a group of procrastinators.

Four of us are writing books. We made a pact: first cut by December 31st of this year. Now, the thing is, our (all non-fiction) subjects are disparate, so we don't talk a lot about what we're doing with each other, and we don't really do the pep cheer/support group thing due to the distance between our homes etc. So let's flip that around, and come up with some really painful punishments if any one of us doesn't have a first draft in hand by the end of the year. Two things that were immediately discounted: a public shaming party, because any one of us would end up enjoying it; and monetary shifting, because three of us are slackers and the fourth is a working stiff. No way to balance that out. It has to be the same thing for each of us, and it has to be horrible enough to want to avoid. Tattoos? Etc. I'd like a wide variety of responses so we can go through a list and pick out one or more items we all agree on.
posted by user92371 to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about something physical? Must complete a marathon? (But this might turn into more procrastinating as they train for it!)
posted by typewriter at 10:27 AM on February 25, 2007

Metafilter time-out?
posted by typewriter at 10:28 AM on February 25, 2007

Per-page prizes along the way? Like a reward for the first person to 50 pages, first to 100 pages, etc.
posted by knave at 10:41 AM on February 25, 2007

I like the physical challenge. Metafilter: the worker has very little time for web reading, one slacker doesn't know metafilter exists, the second knows enough about it to get me to submit this very question but it's not in his regular rotation. It would only hurt me.
posted by user92371 at 10:43 AM on February 25, 2007

Are these people male or female? Ages?


Get a job. At McDonalds.

Post their nude picture on the net

Appear in Furry porn flick

Go to a nude beach

Go to church everyday for a month
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 AM on February 25, 2007

I have an exercise bike in my office. If I need to punish myself for procrastination, then I jump on the bike sans headphones or anything. It's sufficiently boring enough that the alternative - writing is more attractive. (Though take my advice with a grain of salt, as I have three deadlines in the first week of March, yet here I am!)
posted by typewriter at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2007


Losers have to be the winners servant untial draft is compeleted. Doing laundry, foot massages etc.

Loser gets no sex till first draft completed. SO may not go along with this.

Loser must eat gross food i.e. if vegan, must eat meat till they finish the first draft.

Are ya'll VERY close? If so, loser submits themselves for sexual gratification by the winners. Note: this may end friendships. Or enhance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on February 25, 2007

You have to abandon the book project? That's a deadline.

Also, I would say you might do well to set a preliminary deadline, say 75% done by Nov 1, with a smaller punishment (or a reward for succeeding).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 AM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

The church one rang Slacker3's bell. We're all male, all > 35. We're not "VERY" close, though that's very creative, sexually speaking. And I think you know how much I like to speak sexually.

McDonald's sure is ringing my bell. What hell. But that's a problem for the Worker, who would be exempt. Which ... whew.

Furry: Ground rules ... I'm a penguin, and I'm the top.
posted by user92371 at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2007

Instead of punishment, perhaps you should try incentives. Positive incentives. Seriously. Punishments are bad and nobody wants that shit looming over their head. I'm a master at slacking/procrastinating. That said, more often than not I do get the job done. And in my mind, positive incentives are far more powerful than punishments. I've tried doing both on myself. It always turns out better if I'm using an incentive.
posted by VegaValmont at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Eat a bug.
posted by IvyMike at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2007

My vote's with LobsterMitten.

I think abandoning the project is a great incentive. Anyone who doesn't make the deadline has to wipe all traces of their manuscript away from hard drives, etc. I think it provides enough of a sense of dread and loss that it might actually be a good incentive for writers.

And if people are just going to procrastinate on it forever anyway, it'll never get done, so who cares if they delete it.
posted by fcain at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2007

After the deadline passes those who haven't finished their draft should be flogged weekly (but not weakly) until they finish.
posted by benign at 12:51 PM on February 25, 2007

I like LobsterMitten's idea too.

Another suggestion: I have a very hazy recollection of this, but some journalist recently wanted to lose weight and gave a friend a cheque for £100 payable to the British National Party - which the journalist was opposed to, in case anyone doesn't know what the BNP is. The idea was that if the journalist hadn't lost a certain amount of weight by a set date the friend would send off the cheque. If there's a cause your group of friends really hates, this could be worth considering.
posted by paduasoy at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2007

Oops, just seen that you don't want monetary punishments. Sorry about that. Might be worth considering anyway, though, as the idea isn't to lose a sum that matters to you, but to be forced to support something you detest.
posted by paduasoy at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2007

I know you've discounted it, but a monetary punishment is attractive because it's easy. Each person sends the others a post-dated check (or cheque, depending) for, say, $200, dated to an arbitrary deadline you've decided on.

If the deadline passes, you cash the check.

An equivalent would be for each person to send each of the others some cherished heirloom or keepsake. If the deadline passes, you get to destroy or keep it. Problem with this is that you could send off random bits of junk—no one will really know.
posted by adamrice at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2007

There have been a lot of good suggestions so far, but here's another one for the pot: If you don't meet the deadline, you get the word "FAILURE" written on your forehead in permanent marker. It ought to take a couple weeks to wear off completely.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:53 PM on February 25, 2007

I still like the tattoo idea best. Or what about "you have to mail one pie/month to all those who did complete their draft for a year." (That's an incentive and a punishment wrapped up together!)
posted by salvia at 1:59 PM on February 25, 2007

Wow I can't believe nobody has mentioned death yet.
posted by twiggy at 3:17 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Abandon book project: It's not as if these books aren't going to be finished at some point, it's just that progress needs to be sped up a bit, we need to make some time sacrifices in our various doughy lives. I know two of us wouldn't ever thinking of "giving up" -- I'm imagining the other two feel the same way.

Death: I've spoken to each person, and it turns out we're all pretty happy to actually exist right now and self-snuffing because we're a little pokey seems kind of petty.

Pies: I love this, but they'd never be baked. In addition Slacker3 doesn't have pie-baking equipment.

Flogging: I thought about that, after running across those episodes of the Japanese show "Down Town" (I believe) where people get smacked for laughing when they're shown something funny or the like. But then you never know who's the closet floggin' lover, now do you? (winks)

Servant: One person is a long-distance friend, so that's another one that fails right at the gate.

I like the per-page prizes. I think maybe in that case we could do a small monetary thing. A money pool.

Eating weird stuff: Seems very transitory, it's just a little discomfort for an hour or so, potential gastric distress, and then nothing.

Permanent marker: The Worker has a job in which walking around with said message on his forehead wouldn't be the best idea in the world.
posted by user92371 at 3:47 PM on February 25, 2007

Send them postcards with this inspiring message from Gore Vidal: "When I hear about writer's block, this one and that one! Fuck off! Stop writing, for Christ's sake: Plenty more where you came from."
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2007

Is there an absolute reason why it has to be the same punishment for each person? I mean, you're all adults, all doing this for your own benefit, so you could sit down together and come up with something that's truly awful and more so for being tailored to each individual...

The person who loves her/his long hair? Either it all comes off, or loses one inch a week for every week past the deadline. (Bonus if you make her/him walk around with a brown paper sack after.)
posted by anaelith at 7:25 PM on February 25, 2007

Whatever it is, it should be something that stays until you finish the draft. If the aim is to get everyone to finish, even if it's a little late, then you need something that will make you finish even if you miss the dead line. Magic marker on the forehead would work. Or a truly awful hat, or other piece of clothing. Or multiple pink flamingoes on your lawn.
posted by kjs4 at 3:46 AM on February 26, 2007

Shave only the front of their head (creating an abrupt mullet) until their done.
posted by phrontist at 10:14 AM on February 26, 2007

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