Is procrastination a problem for you?
I, as well as many other professionals I know, deal with it from time to time. Especially on those big tasks/projects.
“I’ll do it later tonight.”
“Oh, it’s too late now. Tomorrow.”
“Let me just do this one thing first.”
“I’m tired right now. I had a long day and I deserve some ice cream. I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
The list of justifications can go on, but the fact of the matter remains – we haven’t started and completed what we know we should.
The way I like to understand things like this is to clearly define them. When they’re looked at as words like “procrastination”, it makes it something really hard to deal with.
So, the word itself is defined as: “the action of delaying or postponing something.”
Because it’s an “action of” something, my brain naturally wonders ‘how’ and ‘why’.
The how part is clear with some self-observation. We have a conversation with ourselves in our own minds and rationalize not doing what we know we need to do. We find an excuse.
The why part is clear, too. It just takes a little inquiry into our reasoning.
By our nature, we’re designed to move towards pleasure and avoid pain. I’ve understood procrastination, in its simplest terms, to be avoiding doing something because of the pain we think we’ll experience doing it.
It’s too painful to get out of this warm cozy bed. It’s cold.
It’s too painful to leave my comfortable home to go for a run. I’m going to sweat and be sore.
It’s too painful to call that prospect. There might be objections to deal with.
It’s too painful to approach that cute girl/boy. I might get rejected.
But, ever notice when the stakes are high, we leap into action?
Think about that time you were in your warm cozy bed, and you suddenly realized you were late for work. The perceived pain of being reprimanded or possibly losing your job was much higher than the pain of dealing with the cold weather. You jumped out of bed and got ready in record time.
This proves that procrastination is not some big bad force preventing us from the things we want.
In fact, it’s just a thought – an idea.
And so, if we want to counter this idea, we just need to change the thought.
By assigning greater PAIN to NOT doing what we know we must do – greater PLEASURE to doing what we know we must do – we can influence ourselves to leap into action.
You know what you need to do to have that thing you know you want.
We all do.
We should have done it yesterday. But, that’s OK. What’s ours is ours. And we’ll get to it.
Pull procrastination apart, and tear it into pieces.
It has no place here.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King