What nobody ever told you about procrastination
Hands up if you procrastinate? Hands up if you have a selection of apparently essential jobs that you will do if you are actually supposed to be doing something else? I am a cleaner and a sorter. During exams our student house was spotless because I would rather clean the loo than revise. Today, the room that is most prone to chaos in our house is the kitchen. If I want to avoid doing something I will clean and tidy the kitchen, even the dogs sit to attention neatly on their own beds.
Then finally, the pain of not doing whatever it is exceeds the pain of doing it and, usually at the last minute I will complete the tax return, make that phone call, take that parcel to the post office. Pain is a far more powerful persuader than pleasure. I’m not suggesting that we all take up torture, although think of the fun I could have with my marketing. Take control of your finances and cut out the little inessentials …. like your nails!
Seriously, think now of one thing that you ought to have done but is still on your to do list because you just don’t want to do it? Everybody got one? Right, now think about why you haven’t done it, what is the pain you associate with doing it? Maybe it’s a big thing like asking somebody you really fancy out on a date, maybe it’s a small thing like writing a thank you letter. What is the pain that is stopping you? Fear of rejection or maybe fear they will say yes and you have no idea what to do next. With the letter is it finding a card or paper, digging out the address book, having to buy stamps, working out what to say other than “thank you”?
What is the pleasure you gain from not doing it. With the date it could be all the daydreams about how wonderful the date will go which you believe will be trashed when you actually go on the date. With the letter it might be the extra time you have and the fact you don’t have to construct a letter and think of some interesting anecdotes to include.
All done? Next step what will happen if you don’t take action? What will it cost you to avoid following through? Well you won’t get to go out with the gorgeous guy you have been dreaming about for the last three weeks, and there is absolutely no chance you are going to settle down with him and have all those cute kids you have been mentally adding to the family. The person waiting for your thank you letter may be sad or even angry at your failure to write and that will colour their opinion of you in the future.
What good things would come out of you writing that letter or asking that guy out on a date right now? Well you will know whether they fancy you too or not if they do, great, if they don’t then you can move on and stop wasting time dreaming about something that won’t happen. The letter? The recipient will be happy, you will feel relief about getting it out of the way.
The problem is that most of us concentrate on the pain involved in doing something and not the other three questions. Consequently it is only when the pain of not doing something is so bad that we finally get on and do it and grumble about it and complain about how hard it was because we only gave ourselves a fraction of the time we needed because we left it so late….
Learn to ignore the pain of doing and concentrate on the other three questions and procrastination will be a thing of the past. Now I think I might have to go and tidy the kitchen 🙂