PROCRASTINATION

PROCRASTINATION

| 'just do it'

an everyday moment:

Background Knowledge: This was actually the first blog post I attempted to write.

I cannot believe I literally procrastinated this blog post. This is a blog I created, something my soul wants to do and yet after lunch I was like, I’ll write a draft for a blog post and what happened was that I watched YouTube videos until I needed to travel somewhere in 5 minutes. Only then, did the urgency start to loom over me.

Why? maybe because taking the first step feels so big, I’m scared of failing, I’m scared that it’s not going to be this big philosphical post that is worth hearing. Whether it’s school assignments, homework, revision, practising music - procrastination is a pattern that has come up time and time again.

a reflection:

Procrastination is that act of doing something to unconsciously avoid another behaviour you intended to do. Procrastination is our primal, human way of avoiding the pain of ‘the task’ by distracting yourself with familiar, comforting activities (that usually provide a hit of dopamine quickly, whether that is social media, youtube etc.)

Basically, it’s human to procrastinate so no need to waste time beating yourself up about it.

When does procrastination occur?

When we associate ‘the intended task’ with pain. Alternatively, our go-to procrastination task is typically an activity that requires ZERO mental or physical effort and thus, it’s not painful - it’s a form of numbing which is why when I’ve scrolled too much, I’ve genuinely felt drunk.


Yes, usually desirable behaviours have a degree of pain, whether that is the mental challenge or friction of not having 100% certainty that you are doing things right, or whether it is the physical strain of lifting a weight. But this pain is desirable difficulty, after the difficulty comes the long-term reward (strength, skill becomes easier to do, greater success rate), so basically we need to train our brain to associate the ‘intended task’ with that long term feel-good. One way to do this is to imagine you are already skilled, strong, consistent (aka already your future, ‘higher’ self) before, during and after the task.

For example →

If getting started with exercise feels challenging, think about those who naturally make exercise a seamless part of their day. Picture yourself approaching workouts with the same ease, as if it is second nature. Even when you face physical strain during your exercises, don't interpret it as a sign that you're not fit enough and you’re ‘not ready’ to exercise. Instead, see it as a sign that you're building strength and improving your health. After exercising, you will notice improved stamina and overall well-being and after doing this again and again, exercise (a ‘painful’ task) is associated with the pleasure of improved stamina and wellbeing.


Causes of Procrastination

  • Denying ourselves adequate rest: Procrastination occurs when we are overworking (painful) or so controlling of our work schedules that we unconsciously dissociate to compensate for the rigidness we imposed on ourselves. To balance out the rigidity of the schedule, we go to the other extreme and unconsciously regain mental freedom (that feeling of being able to let your mind wander online). For example: Unrealisticallly planning to study for 3 hours without breaks increases the likelihood that you will feel mentally drained and automatically start typing ‘yout, or insta, or faceb in the URL’ and voila - there goes the next 2 hours.

 

  • Fearing Failure: Procrastination occurs when we cannot let go of perfect. Sometimes, my tendency to ensure that I do the task ‘perfectly’ or to the way I expect it to happen prevents me from actually starting because the comfort of knowing I have the potential to make something magical is more familiar than the discomfort of starting something that can possibly go haywire (painful). For example: the confusion of why can’t I do something that I actually want to do? because you are waiting for the perfect circumstances to be in place so that you can do the activity - the circumstances will never be perfect, the circumstances change when your behaviour changes. Another example: You cannot expect yourself to be in ‘running shape’ when you haven’t run in a year. So you cannot wait until you are in ‘running shape’ to join a running club, because being in ‘running shape’ will never happen unless you start running when you are ‘out of running shape’
    • When we cannot let go of perfect, we constantly judge our mistakes (painful) and the steepness of our learning curve to the extent that we cannot enjoy the process. Sometimes, procrastination is a way of anticipating the self-criticism we inflict on ourselves (internalised from our environment or society)when we are about to attempt a task that we are not certain we can do well, so it feels better to do avoid the impending criticism and do nothing at all. Have you ever procrastinated in the middle of doing something enjoyable, such as playing a game?

Reframe

If failure scares you, then it’s time to reframe it. There's no denying that failure can sting but failure is also the same as progress, practise or exploration. Imagine you applied to your dream job, and you didn’t land the job. You could consider it a failure and procrastinate applying to other jobs. But you could also see view the ‘failed’ application as practise, you practised your application skills, your interview skills - practise which comes in handy when another dream company looks at your application.

Being scared of failure is the same as being scared of growth. If you cannot deal with failure, or you haven’t failed - that means you haven’t stretched yourself in places that are beyond your current abilities. When you do something beyond your current abilities, you fail, and then you learn how to bridge the gap between your current ability and the ability that the task requires you to do. This bridging of the gap only occurs by failing.

Instead of focusing on how ‘bad you did’ and the outcome, focus on how courageous you were to try and what you can do differently next time. 


magic in the mundane

In that moment of realising I intended to write a blog post and only had 5 minutes to leave - here is what I did. Initially, I beat myself up about it. You don’t need to waste energy doing that. After that, I realised that my expectation to write a whole blog post, edited and ready to publish wayyy before I even set up this blog is so unrealistic. Additionally, it feels so different to my norm of what I usually do that, of course, I would be frightened out of my mind to even start so instead, I unconsciously avoided failure.

  1. Reset my expectations to honestly be achievable - maybe write 10 words of a blog post and then go from there. Make it a goal that is literally non-procrastinatable.
  2. Instead of anticipating ‘writer’s block’ and giving up in the moments where my writing feels stuck, see these moments as an opportunity to grow, as if I’m on the other side and felt the inspiration that came from the moment I took a breath in my writing.
  3. Remind myself that as easy it is to practise watching YouTube, it can be just as easy to write a blog post.
  4. Procrastination only overwhelms me when I continue to escape or to be dishonest about my procrastination. Once I can admit I just wasted my energy and time on this other activity, I can choose different and feel empowered rather than defeated by my past choices.

fromtheheart mantras

  • When you want to do it, do it and when you don’t want to do it, don’t do it
    • There’s a difference between activities that you dream of doing but you keep feeling like you can’t vs activities that you genuinely don’t want to do. The prior one will have pings of motivation, like suddenly I will want to write a blog post or have a lightbulb moment and I use these moments to spur me, I don’t wait until my brain starts believing that Instagram or quick dopamine hits are better uses of time. I will also not force myself to write a blog post when I have a ping of motivation to study or to read. But you cannot always rely on pings of motivation, which is why having habits help because even when motivation isn’t there, you just do the desired behaviour by default.

 

  • Make it easy for yourself to not procrastinate
    • Often our environments make it EXTREMELY easy to procrastinate. As soon as I type ‘y’ - youtube can come up if I click enter. Alternatively, I have to open up certain pages to write a blog not just click 2 buttons. These platforms are DESIGNED with billions of dollars to keep you hooked - they make it easy for you to procrastination. So apply the same billion-dollar principle and use it in the opposite way - for your own benefit.

 

  • Procrastination does not mean there is something wrong with you
    • It’s easy to feel like procrastinating automatically means you are lazy. Usually people that procrastinate are the opposite of lazy, they have such high expectations of the workload they expect of themselves that they feel trapped by the overwhelm before they can even start.

 

  • Procrastination means I’m waiting for something to change in my circumstances, it’s me saying that I don’t fully believe I have the capability to do the task in my current reality.
    • Whether it’s greater confidence, more money, more resources, more knowledge, appearance or more suppport, you will always be lacking in whatever resource to do the task perfectly - simply because you have never done the task before. You will only feel truly ‘ready’ to do the task once you are 100% certain you will master it - a stage you only get to when you do the task without any of that certainty.

Never do tomorrow what you can do today :)

with love, 

from the heart <3

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