After all, tomorrow is another day. I loved this statement expressed by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. It matches perfectly what most of us regularly struggle with: procrastination. While at first delaying important things seems appealing, eventually it becomes a nightmare.
Procrastination, that is filling your day with low-priority tasks in order to avoid high-priority ones. So trendy term lately. So many definitions. So many users. I was trying not to be the one, but I didn’t manage yet to escape its trap. I look at my to-do list and it drives me crazy. The list is growing every day and doesn’t look like shortening. The magic of procrastination makes it unbelievably tough to clear out. I experience the same hardship whenever I start to scroll it down. I’m asking myself: How did I allow it to happen? I know the answer, but I avoid facing it honestly.
Everything starts when I let my negative thoughts take control over giving a green light to the first item from the list.
- I don’t feel like doing this today…
- It seems so boring…
- It’ll take too much time…
- I don’t know how to tackle it…
- I have no clue where shall I begin with this one…
Giving in at this stage is the most common scenario. Nothing is started yet. And will not be in the near future. If you put yourself into thinking whether to do something or not, you’re already losing a battle. If you open the door to the tiniest doubt, you can forget about completing the task. Your smallest hesitation rules out a chance to take the next step.
Let’s say, the near future is over. You’ve finally set a schedule for all hot points from your list. You’ve even given them priorities. You’ve decided on the precise date and time of each activity. Bam! You feel so proud of yourself. You feel your life became organized. The schedule is active. You’re on fire. But tonight is already too late to start with anything. You get to work tomorrow early morning with the agenda ready to go. That will be a great day! Productive and efficient. Full of accomplishments. But here and now you forget about another fact: the worst thing about the idea of schedules is that it’s possible to change their date and timing. It takes seconds to reschedule the tasks and days, weeks or months to revert them. It’s like with an alarm clock that we switch over and over until we finally get up. What’s your record in switching the alarm clock?
All right, let’s not be so pessimistic. The day has come and you’re ready to take on item number one from your never-ending to-do list. This is pure madness! You finally get going. You change the status of your task to in-progress. You go through step one, then step two and step three…and you get tired. Time for a coffee break. After all, you deserved it. However, the most painful truth about coffee breaks is that five minutes turns into thirty minutes in no time. You run back to your job. Only to realize that you lost all your enthusiasm on the way. Poor you. What to do? You can’t count on your motivation, because it’s gone. You look left, you look right, but you can’t see any rescue on the horizon. That’s a shame! You hope to find it back soon.
Meanwhile, you open your mailbox or your social media accounts. You promise yourself you’ll quickly check on them and will come back to the left task in a moment. Or you watch one episode of your favorite series on Netflix. Just one and you’ll be right back! Or you play one round of your favorite game. It’ll take merely fifteen minutes! What you forget this time is that any kind of media entertainment is a bottomless pit. One check, one episode or one round is rarely enough. One follows another. You lose control over time passed. You wake up only to realize that all this time has gone. You ran out of all your energy. You need to re-initiate your efforts the next day.
Finally, another day came and you’re determined to close the deal with your procrastination. You put all your creative rage into ticking off this terrible point from your list. You’re almost there. Safe and sound on the way to become a winner of the battle. Only one step stands between you and freedom. You already hear the trumpets and…you got stuck. What?! That was not part of the plan! Hands down. How long can it last? How many times you’re meant to delay important tasks waiting for the right mood to come? Everything has got its expiry date.
I don’t have today for you a list with bullet points on how to overcome procrastination in your life. I don’t have today for you golden tips which will immediately solve your problem. I won’t share today with you a magic secret on how to lead the task straight down the line. I will not lie to you that it’s possible to get rid of the procrastination for good. The truth is that despite all your efforts to run effectively, sooner or later comes a day or days when nothing works as it should do. You can immediately jump into a fight against it, but sometimes the more you resist, the more power you give it.
Does it mean you can procrastinate with a clear conscience? Not at all.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.Stephen King
Allowing procrastination to enter your life is a one-way route. The farthest you go, the farthest you’ve got to come back. What works for me is to start the task without sparing a single second to think if I feel like doing it now or not. Without questioning myself whether it’s a good time or not. Without wondering if there’s any better task to do now. I know very well what’s important now.
That’s why I can’t open my schedule only for the sake of pushing the task for later. I have to do it here and now. If necessary, I’ll make the process more enjoyable by playing my favorite music in the background, having my favorite coffee with me, exercising a while to boost my energy, opening windows in my place to get fresh air. It’s essential when the mood changes and enthusiasm gets low.
Don’t stop. Keep going. Make it pleasant.
What are your methods to avoid procrastination while working? Do you often procrastinate? What do you do when you’ve already procrastinated one of the tasks?
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