Why we love to take time off and how to deal with it
You can start like this: my name is Samantha, and I am a chronic procrastinator. As, however, and most of the inhabitants of the planet. Admit, what is already there, all your own. I keep putting things off for later, and not because I like it. Moreover, this ridiculous addiction makes me feel guilty – almost every day. More precisely, when I understand that night is coming, and I never did what I had planned the day before.
The paradox is that I love planning and I love making lists. I experience a slight ecstasy when I cross out completed items. And I understand what happiness is, throwing a crumpled list of crossed out cases in the trash – as if saluting with this gesture to myself, the proud winner of procrastination.
But what is behind this! Hours, days, and sometimes weeks of fighting reluctance. It doesn’t matter what, although more often (another paradox) goes to what I like the most – writing.
Procrastination is even an unpleasant word, like Voldemort’s spell. It’s even worse if, as you grow older, two ailments stick to you at once: procrastination and perfectionism. In this case, practically nothing … Okay, I will not pump it up. I’d better give an example from life, when suddenly someone is interested.
On Friday night, on the eve of the weekend, when absolutely everything can be done, I make a list of MIT (Most Important Things). I indicate the intervals in hours and minutes so as not to allow myself to waste time. For me, this is like a guarantee for execution.
MIT on Saturday:
6.00 – 8.30: write an article for the site.
10.00-11.00: Correct the facts in a magazine story written a few days ago.
13.00 – 15.00: SEO keyword research for my personal blog.
What actually happens on Saturday morning?
6.00. The alarm clock rings, which I set at 2.00 last night after watching all six episodes of “Bodyguard” (I mean seriously, how wonderful is Richard Madden). Without opening my eyes, I ask myself why I have to wake up so early on the weekend if I do the same thing every weekday. I fell asleep back.
9.00 – 11.00. I lie in bed, listen to podcasts, monitor news, choose a photo for a post on Instagram (which drags on for forty minutes due to the recognized craving for perfectionism, well, God bless him, there is still plenty of time for MIT). I remind myself that I’m not going anywhere today, because there are more important things to do. Stretching sweetly. I love Saturdays!
11.00 – 12.00. I drink coffee, read e-mails, choose a book on Audible, turn it on right there, catch it. I feel a conscientious tingling sensation in the area of consciousness, which is responsible for crossing things off the list. False alarm, a long day ahead.
12.00. A friend calls, offers to take a walk for lunch. Great idea!
14.30. I leave the cafe and head home. The day still seems long. Calling my boyfriend for a video chat. He is on a business trip, but talking is sacred. Hanging on a bench in the square near the house.
15.30. I open the door to the apartment. My sister calls, calls to the cinema, but I refuse, because I want to focus on MIT.
16.00. Drowsy. I’ll take care of the MIT when I’m resting. It’s Saturday after all.
17.30. I slept for half an hour, I felt kind of boiled. I stare at the ceiling and mournfully wonder why I am not good at organizing time.
18.00. The head hurts, I recognize the inner anxiety. More precisely, blame, because MIT remained intact. Life sucks.
19.00. I hate guilt. I want oatmeal cookies and a glass of red wine. Why am I not doing the job I love? The guilt is growing.
20.00. Sluggishly scrolling through Instagram feed and looking through other people’s stories created by people focused on graphics and personal success. I sigh and admit complete defeat in Saturday’s battle against procrastination.
21.00. I am choosing a new series for the night.
If my particular example somehow resembles your life, then the 6-step guide below will help you find your way out of this closed loop. The step-by-step instructions were helped by familiar psychologists. By the way, they are delicate with the problem, slowly recognizing procrastination as evil in its purest form. Psychologists believe that shirking from business is facilitated by quite noble prerequisites, among which the main trinity is distinguished:
- you are simply tired and have no strength;
- you have no motivation, that is, the task is clearly not interesting to you;
- you are anxious that you will not be able to cope, and therefore do not rush to start.
So, here’s a simple and effective guide to help combat procrastination:
STEP 1. IDENTIFY THE ENEMY
Answer the question (very honestly): why are you hesitating? In other words, what specific part of the case are you delaying?
For example, I love writing, and the biggest challenge here is to sit down and get started. When you start writing, you quickly get into the flow, and it’s a wonderful experience. But sitting down at a table and getting started is terribly difficult.
You can procrastinate because you are afraid of losing your source of income or you are not sure that you will do well enough – all this corresponds to point three in the above top psychologists. In my case, I can admit, thoughts flicker: what if it turns out worse than the last article, which (for example) had a record number of views and comments?
STEP 2. VISUALIZE THE RESULT
Now you know what activity you are delaying. And you even know why. It’s time to figure out how you (ideally) will feel when you get there.
For me, the delivery of the material, the release of the publication and feedback from readers give a pleasant effect of achievement – this motivates me to start creating.
STEP 3. DETERMINE INTERMEDIATE GOALS
Too big a goal can scare and confuse procrastination. Break it down into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. Many writers advise to write one chapter or page a day – and then you can have a whole novel by the end of the year. The main thing is not to go astray.
STEP 4. FOLLOW SCHEDULE
A simple principle from a Russian proverb: do the deed – walk boldly. For example, every morning 2 hours are devoted to writing an article. Until the task is completed, this is the most important mission. Finish and watch TV shows for the rest of the day. Hang out with your girlfriends. Play tennis or hockey. Enjoy weird hobbies. But first – the case.
STEP 5. INSTALL A DEADLINE
The established limits help to complete the task on time. I write lyrics in the morning. But the process of editing or rewriting is another matter entirely. Without a deadline, I risk editing forever, getting bogged down in endless improvements to the material.
Key Points: Be realistic with deadlines and remove distractions (leave your phone in another room). Stay focused and don’t do anything else until you complete the task.
STEP 6. ASSIGN AN AWARD
What reward will you give yourself for completing the task? You can define the punishment for failure, but the reward is much more invigorating. For example, after finishing an article, I reward myself by including a good movie or chatting with friends. And do not skimp on praise. Who is great? You are well done!
It’s great to dream of success and great achievements, but dreams will remain dreams until you get down to business. Take action – in small but sure steps – and procrastination will lose its magical power.