One of my favourite ‘skits’ by Ellen Degeneres is her procrastinating skit. She lightheartedly describes a struggle most of us encounter on an almost daily basis - she needs to write a show and her journey begins at the stairs with a kitten petting encounter, which snowballs into a storm of delays. At some point she diverts to her cd collection where she gets stuck sorting them by theme ‘Bread, Meatloaf etc”. After meeting a friend for lunch (to chat about this procrastination thing), she never actually gets on to writing much. She ironically uses this to highlight how we try too hard to cram everything into life, and need to procrastinate – or rather to slow down and be in the moment.
So as I’m sitting here, it’s taken me a good hour to write the paragraph above. Since writing the first word I have:
Day 2: I’m back….it’s not dog cancer as Dr Google said it could be. That lump on the chest is just pure fat and the vet confirmed this (and told me to lay off on the treats). Think it’s between the lightning from last night and the Putco bus that came past sounding like a German tank that’s been hit by “Le Resistance”. Moving swiftly along
Day 2 – later: No time today. We have to walk the dogs, take the mountain bike for a spin, visit the in-laws and “wifey braai” a big steak, and then it’s time to hit the couch for evening series catch-up
So let’s get serious about this subject. Why do we procrastinate? (PS, there’s no synonym for Procrastinate – I just checked, unbelievable). Anita brought up that maybe you actually just don’t want to do it. I’m sure that rings true in many cases. Maybe you do not want to bother finding out why your pool engine stopped working properly because it’s a total schlep to get it fixed and besides… ponds are cool and we need to save water. Perhaps you do not want to put that one dish away when you’ve just stuffed yourself full of creamy bacon pasta whilst binge-watching “Vikings” on Netflix. Maybe, but perhaps these are just the lazy bits of being human. We often procrastinate on important things and then beat ourselves up in the process. Set goals we know we may not (or believe we may not) achieve to ground the negative thought ‘I knew you couldn’t do it!’. This behaviour is fear-based and can really do a number on you if ignored.
I personally find I sometimes do this, as I like working under pressure. I tend to do this at home and not at work though. At work I’m a total nerd, meeting deadlines before the ink has dried on the memo. On a personal level, I seem to like the stress of finishing something at the last second.
Timing is another one. It took me many, many years to stop smoking. I didn’t even try for the first 15 years, as I knew I couldn’t stop doing something I liked. As time went by though I really started feeling disgusted in myself, and set short-term goals. Cut down, don’t smoke in the morning, don’t smoke in the car. Ok. Once I reached that goal, then I moved onto the next goal, no smoking indoors ever, no vaping and so on. It literally took me 24 years to stop a stupid habit that started with a friend that said ‘hey try this stinky stick it’ll will give you a headrush’ when I was sixteen. How stupid are we?
So what now? For me, the most effective anti-procrastination method is to simply make a list and not to be so hard on myself if I don’t achieve them all. Also, review your goals and their importance in your life. Instead of me becoming a master bread-maker, I’ve settled with making one bread by hand and will do it again should I feel the need to create
There’s also a “2-minute rule” by James Clear that makes sense. If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.
Best is to find a solution that works for you, which could include procrastination on your list of things to do.