We all know the art of ‘putting things off’. There are some things we could have done today, or even right now! If we are honest with ourselves, we have all procrastinated at some point in our life.
Procrastination is different from laziness, because with procrastination we actually make a conscious decision with the intellect to do it later. But with laziness, we just are not emotionally interested in doing anything at all! Procrastination also involves some level of self-deception since we know the truth or benefits of doing the task, but still somehow we keep ‘putting things off’. Whereas in the case of laziness we are likely to be unaware or oblivious of the benefits.
But let us take a look at the reasons why we have this habit of ‘putting things off’. I have heard many people say: “Once I get motivated, I would surely do it.” But isn’t it often the case that once we start the ‘doing’, then we get motivated? As we sign up for the gym, and see the others pushing their limits (or the weights), we begin to want to try it. We start helping the homeless, we see a difference in their life and smiles on their faces, then we get motivated to help more. When we start picking up plastic bottles off the beach, we want to see the other half look just as good. That is our motivation!
Let’s look at some of the causes of procrastination:
Fear of Failure
We delude our self with: “If I don’t try, then I can never fail!” But, if we never try then we will never gain experience in anything in life. I often think of those who enter the Miss World or Miss Universe contests. They have such a small chance of winning, for there can only be one Miss World or Miss Universe out of hundreds. Yet they have set aside their possible embarrassment, they conquer their fears of failure and give it a good shot!
“I don’t want to start until I am perfect.” Well, one seldom gets perfect by sitting on the couch? Do we get fit and healthy by simply reading health and fitness books? Do we become a sprinter by contemplating on it being a ‘fine idea’? We have to get out there and just start. We become perfect as we get ‘doing’!
We avoid doing the task for many reasons too. We fool ourselves into believing we will do it later, when we know full well we never will. Tomorrow never comes and every day we continue to find excuses to postpone it further. Perhaps we are not motivated enough. Maybe we do not have enough information and don’t know how to start. Perhaps we just don’t want to do it, but are finding it hard to admit this to our self and others. We lie to our self that we need pressures or deadlines to get things done, when it’s just another justification to ‘put things off’. We avoid because we are lazy and just don’t care enough!
There are a whole host of distractions – where to start? Well, there is the smart phone and its 2,200,000 apps; there is the enjoyable office gossip – can’t possibly miss out on that!; there is the choice of either doing the important thing first and the easy thing last, or the easy thing first and the important thing last, and we normally resort to the latter; the excuse of the family takes over only when we have important and urgent things to do, otherwise in our selfishness the family can wait! We suddenly think of the health of our heart (when there is nothing wrong actually!), when in fact we should be doing exercise. Shopping or lunch with friends takes precedence over seeing grandma. And the list is endless.
The best policy is just to be honest with the self: Why are we procrastinating? Do not beat yourself up about it. From the place of acceptance admit the truth to yourself, then you can begin to move forward.
The main problem is that we spend so much time thinking about doing the thing than actually ‘doing’ it! This is why our energy, (motivation, will and drive) actually gets depleted. So, when we finally do get around to the ‘doing’, it feels that we have already been there, because we have in our mind!!
Deep seated thought patterns are first created in the mind before they manifest in action. This is why changing habits takes place from the level of the mind. In order to renounce procrastination, we need to first convince the mind of the importance of the task. Very often we just have to get on and ‘do it’.
It is always good to have methods to mark our progress. Some people like to ‘see’ their progress, they are more visual. If we could ‘see’ how well we were doing, we would become more pro-active. Try using marbles or buttons and moving one at a time, from one container to another as you complete each task or exercise. Others may be more auditory. They find that people who speak kind words, those who are warm hearted help them to get motivated to do the right things. So, having good company will also encourage us. In the end we need to care enough to ‘just do it’.
It’s Time… to ‘just do it’!
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK