Imagine the following scenario: Your alarm goes off at 6am so you have enough time to get up out of bed, get ready and look less like the dawning of a zombie apocalypse; but instead of rolling your butt out of bed, welcoming the day with a glum expression at this hour of the morning, you hit the snooze button. Five minutes pass, and you hit the snooze button again. And again. And again. Until 45 minutes has passed; there is now officially no time for you to look anything less like a homeless cat lady, or even prepare something nutritious to eat. Instead you jolt out of bed, splash some water on your face and sprint – and i do mean sprint – in the hope that you wont’ be late for the 3rd time this month.
Procrastination. Everybody does it. To the girl in your class that always looks like a bag lady (i.e. me); to the guy at the coffee hut who puts off his assignments to the last-minute, hands in a sub-par effort and then complains that he will never go anywhere in life. No human can resist the urge to procrastinate, from small menial tasks like washing (come on, who wants to come home from work or spend their only day off doing chores!), to bigger life events like parties, study, work and paying bills (reminder: open the letter from the electricity company… maybe…). But why do we do it?
As humans, we are naturally drawn to novelty; new and interesting activities and objects stimulate our pleasure centers, while routine and mundane tasks have just the opposite effect, hence the eagerness to ignore washing those dishes and eat off this sort of clean, week old pizza box… it’s still good right?
Some people find that they are chronic procrastinators, unable to complete any mundane task no matter how vital it may be to their daily functioning. Their idea of “self-care” may include a new membership to the climbing gym, but at the same time they might neglect items like laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, and household chores. Psychology today suggests that there are other emotions and/or mental states that accompany chronic procrastination. The most common ones are sad, angry, or depressed about various aspects of their lives. These different moods and emotions interfere with our concentration and focus and therefore, hello Facebook!
But is it just that we procrastinators are bored. Is it that we are putting off certain tasks because we don’t’ want to identify with what real meaning those tasks have – a conventional, mundane, unexciting life. We wake, we eat, we work, we sleep….. We don’t want to morph into REAL adults. Which, realistically, isn’t as amazing as our youthful vibrant selves imaging (prove me wrong). Are we trying desperately to hold onto spontaneity, freedom from responsibility… youth?
I think so, and so does Maggie Heath from Lifehack who suggests there are 9 different reasons why we procrastinate. Daydreaming over your TV heart throb is unfortunately not one of them. But wanting to maintain control, being a perfectionist, fear of failing, and laziness are.
Aside from sitting here and running a microscope over my personality flaws (I did that on Sunday), is there a way to cure ones procrastinatory ways? I know, when i have to, I’ll get in there and get the job done, but can i do it without the feeling of urgency? Can i do it without that deadline looming over my head like a puppet master, and I’m the puppet!
Is there a way to put off putting off?
YES! Apparently its a very simplistic answer, which i will share with you all. Put down your cell phones; close Facebook; stop tweeting on Twitter; turn off or hide away all distractions and just get started. That’s it. Just do it.
When we put off today what we can do tomorrow, we’re setting an intention based on the idea that a task will be more appealing or feel more do-able at some time in the future than it is right now. But it turns out that tomorrow is actually a lot more like today than we think. It’s a combination of “It just feels better not to do this right now” and the often misguided “I’m going to (want to) do it tomorrow” that can lead many of us to put off tasks again and again.
So to stop procrastinating from life, we need to start living it. Perform the mundane and routine tasks of washing, cleaning, working and gyming. Participate in the horrid office meetings, monthly lunches and bi-yearly weekend picnics. Set time for ourselves, whether it be for university studies, a day of shopping or an Xbox marathon with the boys. We can’t procrastinate our lives away… although i think i have given it one hell of a go.
No excuses. No step-by-step guide. Just do it.