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Why do people invest personal energy in OnlineCommunities or other projects noticeably distinct from their core needs and objectives, like taking care of themselves, their families, their work obligations, or other critical responsibilities?

Well, often these other responsibilities are emotionally taxing, overwhelming, or simply confusing about how to proceed. And while stuck unable or unwilling to move forward where it matters in life, you still wish to move forward somewhere, anywhere in life.

Therefore, people invest time in side goals in life as a form of productive procrastination where they can feel like they are getting something done even while avoiding what they should be doing.

For instance, many people have hobbies like knitting or drawing or writing or woodworking or dancing. These provide some outlet for development of a person independent of any frustrating or difficult tasks they lack energy to deal with.

Often these hobbies are sufficiently challenging, but not insurmountable, which known already-travelled paths to skills development. People have been knitting for thousands of years. A steady progression of challenges lead to more interesting projects, with well-developed training materials and supplies at hand to support you in your journey.

Online communities like [Ravelry] have formed as a place to support knitters. With a SharedInterest?, and common goals (even if not a SuperordinateGoal), it's an easy way to spend time when you need an OutsideWindow to connect with other people who share your form of productive procrastination. And let's face it, we often turn to these communities while in the middle of our primary activities, like work or childcare, just for a mental break that gives you a needed hit of positive energy.

In the OpenSource world, this productive procrastination can even be in service of a SuperordinateGoal, like OpenCiv? working a rewrite of Sid Meier's Civiliation game, that coordinates action, even if that goal is frivolous but fun. Or WikiPedia whose superordinate goal is in the service of humanity, per se, but for most people is irrelevant to their core day-to-day goals.

This productive procrastination can even hide in a SuperordinateGoal that seems to line up exactly with your core goals, such as spending time with professional communities to advance your networking in service of your sales or marketing goals, or working on the LinuxKernel? if you work at RedHat?.

Regardless, there are many elements of these professional online communities that are fun and joyful and re-energize you, even if they don't directly line up with your KeyPerformanceIndicator?s.

Is procrastination bad? Does it need to be stamped out? Procrastination is definitely a symptom of something underlying going wrong, usually fear or confusion or exhaustion. But knowing that you have a fundamental problem doesn't help you actually contend with it. You need to manage your emotions.

The value of productive procrastination is that it is PositiveAndConstructive?, a key principle of life. Rather than surfing on social media; or consuming anxiety-provoking news; or turning to food, drinking or drugs; you bring your emotions into control and advance yourself personally and perhaps even the world around you.

These time wasting forms of managing your emotions are avoidance patterns, which is simply your brain making you wait out how long you can stay emotionally aroused in a way that is blocking forward progress.

Your brain really needs a PositiveAndConstructive? action to break this pattern so you can move forward in your core task.

Therefore, if you find yourself in these negative, time-wasting patterns or even self-destructive patterns, it's a really good idea to find a form of ProductiveProcrastination, whether it be exercise, meditation, a hobby, or an OnlineCommunity working towards a goal.

And if you are managing an OnlineCommunity, it is therefore important to recognize if people turn to your community when they are contending with anxiety, and how you can structure your activities towards delivering a PositiveAndConstructive? outcome with every interaction. Your community will be more addictive, and more impactful, and frankly a strong pillar of wider society if you can do this.


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