If you’re a procrastinator, odds are twofold -- you saw this article and thought “I’ll read it later,” or, you’re reading it now while procrastinating a task you should be tackling instead.
If you’re the first variety, a traditional procrastinator, nice to meet you -- I used to be the same way. If you’re the second, welcome to my current world. I’d like to share with you how we, as procrastinators, can evolve and overcome this habit.
You put tasks off while anticipation and pressure builds. You wait until you absolutely have to handle things and thrive off the resulting adrenaline.
My procrastination began in my teen years. Once I gained the freedom and time to deliberate, choose my tasks, and experience the “rush of the last minute,” I got a bit hooked. For example, in high school if I couldn’t go to a party until my room was cleaned, I’d wait until the day before, crank music, and enjoy the sheer excitement of racing the clock. In college, if I had a paper due, I would wait until the eleventh hour, stock up on caffeine, and pull an all-nighter.
You still procrastinate, but instead of killing time with TV, social media, friends, video games, etc., you knock out every other “have to” in the meantime. What does this look like? Your house may be spotless, laundry done, workout complete, yet your big task still looms.
This iteration of procrastination developed in my adult years. With multiple tasks on my plate, there was no feasible way of putting everything off. So, what do I do now? I knock out my entire to-do list while ignoring that one major item I have yet to accomplish. For example, if I am stuck on an article, I’ll write three other pieces instead. If I have errands to run but don’t want to leave the house, every domestic chore under the sun will be completed inside my home instead.
Although many tasks get accomplished, this variety of procrastination is exhausting.
Feeling Dead At Deadline Time
To this day I have never missed a deadline, but I have practically killed myself to get there. I have experienced caffeine shakes, required naps, and have turned into a social recluse all from not doing what I should have done in the first place.
I used to justify it, looking for studies of how procrastinators worked better under pressure, but is the stress worth it? Sometimes yes - I do believe that this is a thrilling way to push myself and excel. The difference is that I no longer wish to operate in this way ALL the time, because my workload is too great, and my energy is too precious.
Swallow the Frog
The great Mark Twain stated, "Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
How does this apply? If you wake up to a daunting task, knock it out first. It could be a difficult phone call, a workout, an assignment, or a major project. I speak from experience when I say that if I put something off, it eats at me, looms, I feel guilty, feel like I “should” be doing it, and then go to bed without completing the task. The cycle then repeats.
If you can follow this tiny piece of advice and “swallow that frog” on a daily basis, it will change your thinking and your life. Each day you will feel accomplished early on, you won’t have something chipping away at you, and you’ll have the remainder of the day to knock everything else out (or take a much-needed break)!
I am working to transition from a traditional, to a productive, to a periodic procrastinator. It’s never too late to learn, change and evolve - try it today (and no putting it off)!