How Do We Procrastinate?

Part 1: Let me Empathize

If you are a human being who lives and breathes, you will relate…

An unnecessary start to this article but I don’t care. It’s my blog and you’ll have to live with it. Anyway, let’s go…

What is the best way to be very productive while still being lazy and/or having a social life? I am not a specialist but I mastered the art of doing a massive amount of work within a short space of time when I was doing my Engineering Degree.

By this I don’t mean the last-minute BS people (most of us) love to subject ourselves to for being lazy.

“I work very well at the last minute because I do exceptionally well under pressure,” you’ll tell yourself or confess to your receptive friends.

I don’t mean that.

I mean the kind where you study from the beginning of the semester if you are a student or work on a project waaaaaayy ahead of the deadline. Not only is it convenient,  but also you’ll do high quality work, have a lot of time to spare to revise what you have not done so great

(PS: I worked on my project last minute and it was a horror show).

How Do We Procrastinate?

I will be the first one to admit that we all do it. It’s just that some are worse off than others.

Different thought processes dominate our procastinative (made up word) minds. The first one that I think is extremely dangerous goes like this:

Thought process 1: Why should I start studying when the exams are two months away? I’ll just forget everything and I’ll have to study again when it nears. Besides, I will have no social life, no hobbies, miss out on all the fun and girls/guys, and I will still fail!

The second thought process, that is slightly better, goes like this:

Thought process 2: I will not let the deadline catch me unawares this time. So, I will do 1,2,3 *very ambitious tasks* today, sleep, and then I will get back to 4,5,6 tomorrow morning and I will soon be done with the entire thing.

both are bad but 1 is hopeless

Right after you finish thought process number 2, you are distracted by the latest episode of *insert TV show* (or you rewatch your favorite episodes), an exciting video on YouTube, or whatever you waste your time on and pretty much throw your well-intentioned plan to the bottom of the pile.

Then you eat, feel lazy, sleep on your work station with your computer ON, you wake up at 3 AM, red-eyed, get into bed and sleep.

The next day, you wake up late, tired, and weighed down with guilt for doing nothing the previous day. “Now my schedule will be tighter. I could have done task 1, 2, and 3. What was I thinking? Stupid Stupid Stupid!”

If you are lucky enough to have a large amount of time before the deadline, you realize that “after all, I still have a few weeks to do this. Why even bother? I can call the lads and play FIFA today and I will still accomplish the task some other day.”

If you are pressed for time, it goes: “Crap, I did nothing yesterday. Today, it will be different…. But first, I need breakfast.”

As you eat your breakfast, you say to yourself, “Ah, I can’t work and eat at the same time! Let me just see what’s happening on instagram/facebook/twitter.”

Then you fall into a rabbit hole of videos, funny posts, pictures, articles…. Aaaand time flies by and before you realize it, it’s lunch time. Yeeesss! Food….”

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Blaming yourself

You resort to blaming yourself for not doing things right. You harbor self-resentment because you recognize that this behavior is what has gotten you where you are right now (which is way below where you think you ought to be). And, you see other people working hard and achieving their goals and you feel a bit left out because you lack initiative and the ability to push yourself. Then you hate your guts even more and the downward spiral is set in motion.

In this state of self-hate, you throw your hands up and your subconsious tells itself “crap, may as well have fun while I am still young.” Then you end up doing things that will soothe you and make you feel a bit better.

Next post: Why We Procrastinate

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