A procrastinator is someone who delays or puts things off that should probably be done in a timely manner, and I definitely fit the criteria.
As a teenager, my main focus was school and this often meant that I made no effort to focus on anything else during the term, and when the school holidays came around, I preferred to read the set books or the pile of library books I had specifically become a library monitor to be able to take out on loan. As a result of my preference to laze around reading books and imagining myself as one of the characters in them, my bedroom was in constant chaos and I never could find anything I was looking for.
This trait seems to follow me into my adult life although the only difference is that now I have a lot more stuff. While I was employed, my desk was total chaos and I usually spent a large amount of time looking for things, and my home suffered as well. Folding the dry laundry, that would have usually taken just 10 minutes to fold and pack away has ended up taking hours simply because the volume has piled up on the bed in the spare room. An online degree that I could have finished at a more manageable rate over the past 2 years hasn’t happened at all, simply because I have convinced myself that I have enough time to complete it in the next few months. I planned to launch this blog last year, but I rationalised with myself over the fact that I have enough time to work on content, and that it needs to be absolutely perfect before it can be published.
Why do people procrastinate? Procrastination is a psychological force that you are completely unaware of. It is resistance. The resistance to do difficult things, the physical discomfort you feel when you think about doing things that you do not feel like doing. You give into that feeling of not doing something that you know you should be doing along with the guilt that comes with it. In most cases, you prefer the instant gratification you receive from scrolling through your social media feed. The more important the task that needs to be completed, the stronger the resistance to complete the task is. The only response to the resistance is simply to do the task anyway.
This is where Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule comes into the picture. Mel Robbins discusses how long the brain takes to talk you out of doing things you should be doing, or would like to do. You are never going to feel like doing anything, ever. Your brain is usually in auto-pilot when you make a decision. Before you know it, your brain has already talked you out of doing something that you probably should do. The best example is exercise. Apart from the many physical benefits of exercise, there are also psychological benefits of exercise (which we will not go into in this blog post), yet very few people wake up in the morning and feel like going to the gym. From the moment you have the idea, you only have 5 seconds to take action. Your brain will talk you out of it with a litany of excuses as to why you cannot do it.
While there is a debate as to the status of procrastination as a habit or a disorder, there are ways to combat it. In my own personal experience, I have found that forming habits little by little, or breaking tasks up into manageable chunks have helped with procrastination. I started with just focusing on making my bed every morning. A simple habit that brings the bedroom together. It is nice to come home from an outing, or work, and get into a bed that has been made and looks inviting. Another habit that I recently implemented was clearing up the kitchen in the evening. This means packing the dishwasher (even with that last plate or glass that is used for water before bed) and wiping down countertops and the sink. This has helped me focus on other tasks in the morning instead of clearing up the previous nights dinner dishes. Maintaining these habits has been a game changer and I have incorporated these quite easily into my life.
Something that I have implemented in my daily life that has helped me get a lot more done is to only schedule 5 – 6 tasks that need to be completed daily no matter what. These include habits (weighted workouts) as well as tasks that will bring me closer to my goals for the next 6 months (studying for exams). I track this progress in my bullet journal (I will explore this more in a blog post). Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed with everything that has to be done, I find that scheduling tasks for specific days relieves some of the stress. Once certain things become automated and part of my daily habits that do not need to be tracked anymore, it is replaced by something that can easily fit into my daily routine. This process helps me to make time for a lot of things that would otherwise go unattended. The rest of my time is filled up with things that I enjoy. Different things work for different people and you have to experiment with a routine that would fit your lifestyle and your goals.
Do you procrastinate? Are you in recovery? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below, I look forward to trying some of them and sharing some of mine in future posts as my routine evolves!
-The Uninspired Blogger