In my mind I am quite notorious for procrastination, it feels like I would be in the top 10 of people who do this so well. I know you all say ‘it is not just you, everybody does it’ but I swear it doesn’t look like this in my eyes. For years I thought this is just one of my weak points, I just cannot discipline myself that easy. I mean, there are so many temptations and things to do instead of doing the things I should do. And in this particular time with all these fancy stuff, computers, smartphones, games, awesome series, movies on a click, ebooks on a click and then media, facebook, dozens of chat platforms and people to chat with, funny cats and cute dogs videos and the list goes on, you must be a rock to resist all these temptations, easy as one click or touch… And I don’t know about you, but they don’t even have to be attractive sometimes. How many times have you cleaned the floor or washed the dishes or clean those windows just to avoid studying or working or doing any of your utterly boring to-dos?
And the problem is sometimes you don’t even enjoy it eventually, or to be more accurate, you pay the price of guilt. You may enjoy at the time, but then later in the evening or even worse at bed time, you think of all those things you didn’t do because you gave in to several other temptations. And you feel ashamed and full of guilt and irresponsible and lazy.
Does it sound familiar to you?Then be relieved because you are not the only one.
Then I came across one book that changed not only this view but also gave me some ideas on how to deal with it (mostly in a theoretical level though, because in practice I haven’t made that much progress). In his book “You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself”, David McRaney includes some very interesting insights on the matter. Let me sum it up to you to: the fundamental
” problem isn’t you are a bad manager of your time- you are a bad tactician in the war inside your mind“
And now let him explain it a bit more.
In the struggle between should versus want, some people have figured out something crucial: want never goes away. Procrastination is all about choosing want over should because you don’t have a plan for those times when you can expect to be tempted. You are really bad at predicting your future mental states.
Does this makes sense to you? Hell yes it does. It reminds me of this comic I see often in facebook of theAwkwardYeti with the heart and the brain. And it also reminds me what a psychotherapist once told me that “the soul is an infant”.
But the problem is not only that the want would never go away, but that we also fail to believe that we would eventually give in to temptation. We keep making promises, resolutions and to-do lists for the following day.
If you fail to believe you will procrastinate or become idealistic about how awesome you are at working hard and managing your time, you never develop a strategy for outmaneuvering your own weakness.
The author talks about two different sides of yourself, the now-you and the future-you or simply your current and your future self. So the cruel reality is that while your current self may seem reasonable and mature, your future self will most likely betray you, will give in and embarrass eventually your current self . Your future self cannot be trusted, not in good faith. Thus your current self must somehow trick your future self into doing what is right for both parties.
Capable psychonauts () can get things done not because they have more willpower or drive, but because the know productivity is a game played against a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty that can never be excised from the soul.
In other words and to put it as simply as possible: a) you need to admit to yourself that the child inside you will be tempted to stray from every single (often boring) task you should do and b) you need to find a way to put a trap on your future impulsive self and you have to do in advance.
ps. you won’t be surprised to hear that this post is yet another procrastination of me writing about procrastination..
ps2. you can read the article at D. McRaney’s blog here.