(…excerpt from forthcoming e-book)
I am a Procrastinator. All together now ‘…aarrrgh poor Joy’. If I say it quickly enough it sounds like a virtue, the way we admire Arnie Schwarzenegger for his ‘terminating’ skills. But unfortunately I won’t be offered a movie contract any time soon for strutting my “procrastinating” skills on stage & screen.
Procrastination : Putting something off till tomorrow that can definitely be done …today!
ANOTHER BAD HABIT
Being a Procrastinator is hard work, but fortunately it’s not life threatening. Just another bad habit that creates anxiety, stress, depression, and affects my self-esteem. So why do I do it? Humans suffer from a combination of:
Overwhelm (biting off chunks when we should take baby steps)
Lack of appropriate skills to tackle tasks (e.g. the social media maze)
fear of making mistakes (who wants to be humiliated & embarrassed?)
and the inability to utter the words ‘I am a failure’ or ‘ I am not good enough’
When procrastination kicks-in it gets in the way of:
A HUMAN DEFECT
Perhaps we should do ourselves a favour and learn to over-ride this human defect (yes, another one), and stop our strange relationship with time called ‘temporal myopia’. For those of you who are really smart, feel free to use the behavioural economists phrase “hyperbolic discounting.”
Temporal Myopia is an evolutionary state of ‘short-sightedness’ which prevents us seeing the long term benefits, when faced with a more attractive short term solution.
Hyperbolic Discounting stops us from showing caution when presented with important must-do information. The brain reduces the importance of future based decisions which leads to people risking their lives, health and their wealth.
SHORT TERM GRATIFICATION
Short-term gratification means eating the sweet right now, to avoid the long-term discomfort
Let me give you an example: I stop displaying any common sense & foresight, and become childlike when faced with having 1 sweet right now, versus 10 sweets tomorrow …short-term gratification means eating the sweet right now, to avoid the long-term discomfort of waiting until tomorrow – when I would gain 10!
I’ve spent an awful lot of my adult life avoiding an imaginary pain, and substituting it with an imaginary pleasure. So what alternative activities have risen to the top of my To-Do-List this week?
CLEANING THE OVEN
Well, I’m sure you’ll all agree that the following are essential – cleaning the oven, weeding the garden, surfing the internet , cleaning the windows and unblocking the sink? Especially in the face of – doing annual tax returns, making that all important phone call …or writing a business proposal.
My thoughts and behaviour creates a vicious cycle where I end up feeling more anxious…
The irony is that although I avoid unpleasant tasks today with a high (but imaginary) pain rating, I never seem to feel any happier the next day? In fact my thoughts and behaviour creates a vicious cycle where I end up feeling more anxious, guilty and worried about the things I haven’t done.
JUST DO IT!
Perhaps the only way to get over this is …to just do it! Bite the bullet, go through the imaginary pain, and emerge the other side with a huge boost to my self-confidence and my halo firmly in tact.
I’m a great believer in reward systems too, I’m motivated by the carrot, not the stick.
So what’s my usual treat after fighting of the Procrastination Demons? …chocolate of course (doh!)
Joy Langley – “The Thought Catcher”