I was just in the middle of begrudgingly prepping for an article I have been putting off seemingly forever when I glanced down at my computer clock and saw it is already nearly 5pm as I type this. Usually I try to do my Wellness posts earlier in the day; they’re kind of my “starter” blogs for Wednesday that get me writing without much effort, leading into a nice afternoon of productivity. But today, (and yesterday) I’ve been working an oddball shift (seriously, who starts at 1:30pm? It’s ridiculous.) and as such, it’s taking me a little later into the day to actually get my work started.
So here I am, getting around to it, and simultaneously putting off my article prep yet another few minutes at least. So I got to thinking about procrastination and I thought I would focus today’s piece on it.
I am a serial procrastinator. Seriously, I procrastinate at least 300 times a week, whether it’s waiting an extra 20 minutes before going for my run (did that today, hey, I had to catch up on Nashville.), staying in my pj’s while I have my coffee and subsequently making a second cup of coffee before I feel “ready” to focus on the whole ‘changing into real clothes for the day’ thing, or, like I’m doing now, writing a random blog post when I know I should REALLY TURN MY ATTENTION TO THAT ARTICLE PREP THAT’S 4 WEEKS OVERDUE JAIMEE.
Sometimes I think yelling at myself for my choices might help – it doesn’t.
So what’s the deal with procrastinators, Jerry?
A lot of people think procrastinators are lazy, unmotivated, uninspired people, but I would argue anyone who dares claim any of those things about me clearly doesn’t know me very well, so let’s break down the top reasons why people have a tendency to procrastinate using, well – me, as an example.
People like me are always pretty neurotic about putting out a polished product, and this inherit desire to do so can often cause me to put off a project. I did this regularly as a student whenever I had an assignment that wasn’t in my area of “expertise”, if you will. Prepping for a science project gave me the willies, but I could hammer out an essay in a couple hours tops easily. It’s really no surprise that the subjects I was confident in, I had less of a tendency to procrastinate. Psychologists suggests that procrastinators have what’s called a fixed mindset, which means, “they avoid doing certain tasks because they fear the risk of making a mistake and looking anything less than perfect.” Sounds probable.
Specifically, “fear of the unknown.” Have you ever had a really bad pain on your body but you kept putting off going to the doctor? You probably suffer from this fear. I get it, doctors can be scary because they can tell you that there’s something terribly wrong with you, but they can also help you speedy up the recovery process ASAP and you’ll avoid having that little tickle in your throat turn into full blown bronchitis. Besides, you know what’s worse than going to the doctor to find out what ails you? Searching WebMD and finding out you have 8 million types of cancer and are going blind based on your cold and flu symptoms. Personally, I go to the doctor when I need to, cause you never know what can creep up BUT – I do have a certain degree of fear of the unknown. I get anxious when I see I have an e-mail from someone and I’m not sure what the contents of the e-mail might be. Sometimes, I can put these off for days. That’s just one example, I’m almost positive I have more.
- The Illusion of Time
Also known as the “I’ll get to this later” disease. Case in point, when I took a few days off of work last week, I thought I was going to be soooo productive. I had SO much time to get caught up on things. Do you know how much I got caught up on? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I’ve been scrambling today and yesterday to get back into the swing of it. The reason for this is human beings tend to have dynamic inconsistency’s. Now what does that mean? “A dynamic inconsistency is a situation where the decision maker’s preferences vary over time, and their preferences become inconsistent. ” Here’s a great example: Last Monday I was going to hunker down and write a few paragraphs for the ending of my elusive novel I keep mentioning and never showcase. I told myself this for days leading up to it, because I knew I would have the whole day off work to do so. You know what happened on Monday? My dog ate a full pound of butter and I spent 6 hours trying to source the terrible stench the remains had left on the carpet. Afterwards, I was so pooped from cleaning I didn’t want to sit down and write anything at all. I hadn’t considered that, come Monday, my attitude towards writing might change should I be suddenly thrown off track by the butter incident of 2017. Even with this blog, and my inconsistency to keep up weekly posts at times – it all comes down to the illusion of time. So far it’s looking pretty obvious that I am indeed a serial procrastinator.
- Small Tasks Before the Big Tasks
I’m guilty of this pretty much every day. When I sit down with my writing lists at the start of the day, I prioritize them. What absolutely needs to be done today, what did I hope to do yesterday that I neglected, and what do I hope to do today. These three lists are usually made up a mash of assignments, with simple edits towards the top (because I can sift through them quite quickly) and the bigger tasks, the ones that involve research, photos, co-ordination with others, tend to float towards the bottom. If you’re guilty of this, you are someone who is motivated by simple rewards. For me that means getting to cross off 4 items at the start of the day instead of 1 big one. If you’re a chronic list maker, you also are a bit of a procrastinator – be honest with yourself, you really didn’t NEED to write out your chore list in multiple pens and highlighters, did you? Didn’t think so.
- Lack of Motivation
Lack of motivation can mean a lot of things. It can mean stress, lack of confidence, working in the wrong environment (I like my desk cluttered and my coffee hot thank you very much.), other priorities on your mind, unclear goals…. the list goes on. The thing to know about motivation is it’s one of the most fleeting feelings we experience at human beings. Don’t believe me? Look at how many people sign up to the gym come January 1st only for it to be a total ghost town three weeks later. I hardly think all those people hit their goals in 3 weeks, do you? Am I guilty of this one, too? You know it. Motivation is something you have to work on, every day. I’ll tell ya, I was tired earlier and really wasn’t feeling going for a run in the 12pm heat and humidity….but I laced up and I got out there, because I know I have to in order to hit my goals this year. Will I always feel motivated to do that and never miss a workout? Heck no – but lord knows I’ll try to keep on it.
Since I started writing this blog I went to the bathroom, grabbed and ate my dinner, checked up on the Trump Duck news at the White House and…. well, I think I’m ready to hit publish now.
Are you a procrastinator? Why do you think you do it? Which of the 5 above are you most guilty of? Comment below, let’s chat so that I have an excuse to put of my work some more.