Why we procrastinate and what to do about it.

Procrastination leads to negative results and can negatively impact yourself and your environment and your relationships. So why do we procrastinate? According to Tim Urban, blogger and speaker on psychological shortcomings says we tend to gear ourselves to instant gratification. We tend to get on a habitual cycle of putting it off, avoiding a deadline or just ignoring the importance of the issue and feeling no pressure at all by choosing some sort of a more immediate gratification. Where situations require no deadlines, procrastination can lead to avoiding a situation for a long period of time and very likely leading to suboptimal outcomes. Two forces are at work. “The monkey” as Tim describes, prefers to play, have fun and engages in a tug-of-war with the “rational decision maker”.

This ‘rational decision maker’ will remind you there is a much better solution if we put in some ground work, a good long term result can happen. You can be completely guided to a better and different ending. The positive reaction would be to bravely confront the situation, see that to completion and take your life in a entirely different direction and open yourself to unmentionable great opportunities. What would we be missing out on if we didn’t procrastinate? Fear of anything like failure, of success and trying to be perfect can paralyse your life decisions and then affect those around you.
How do we make situations more pleasant to motivate us away from procrastinating or delaying the outcome?

  • Self-awareness is the initial change to any habit. You may tend to procrastinate and are on the verge of taking the shortcut when you know conscientiously there is another better way around that issue.
  • Your perception of the matter could be skewed – and hence lead to resistance. It may be you who is the obstruction to achieving the goal. Was your boss being insensitive when she piled more work than you expected right before the weekend and caused negative feelings? Was your husband barking an order rather than politely asking you when you had a long day and you just didn’t want to do anything anymore? There could be situations where you just were not in the right frame of mind and you felt unhappy and in turn not motivated to do anything about it or even make an excuse.
  • Any bad perpetual habit can be dropped and replaced with a more helpful and healthy habit with practice. People with low self-belief – a subcategory of self-esteem – don’t t believe that they deserve the good things in life and tend to stay in their comfort zone. If you want a good outcome, good choices need to be made, even if that means ‘sacrificing’ the old self for a new self, a new comfort zone.
  • Before you start working on a task, befriend it first. Analyse what needs to be done and break the work down into smaller steps. Best if you can then tell others about your project or ambition. Set reasonable milestones as mini deadlines. Get someone to hold you accountable. Cater for the “monkey” by planning little treats on the way. Always and only treat yourself after you have completed a task or milestone.

Watch the video to learn more about Tim’s procrastination identifiers. We can avoid ‘The Dark Playground, leave the ‘Panic Monster’ behind and try to make the ‘Hard Things’ become just as ‘Easy and Fun’ because your choices today will impact your tomorrow for possible greatness. 

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator