“It’s just a page. We can do that in 30 mins or less. What’s the rush” are statements that are prevalent literally in all spheres of work, academic or even social life. It’s a process that starts with undermining or under-gauging a task to fit what we desire. That’s followed by procrastination; a conscious decision to delay tasks till later time. Usually, tasks delayed have deadlines; sometimes, not. For instance, an assignment has a deadline when it should be completed and submitted. Decisions to maybe start a business or visit your grandparents do not exactly have a deadline. Both can be postponed or better put, procrastinated. Also, procrastination comes with consequences. Even though the magnitude of consequences differ, they still exist. Not submitting or submitting an assignment late might cause reduction in grades; not visiting your parents might cost you valuable time with them and not starting your business costs you an experience and/or financial benefits that comes with it.
So, do we conclude that procrastination is a bad thing? Arguably yes. Because negative consequences are usually attached to it, it’s safe to say that procrastination is bad. However, studies show that everyone suffers from procrastination. The degree differs, but everyone delays certain tasks for whatever reason. Hence, we can also argue that procrastination is not exactly terrible if managed well. Sequentially, the relationship we keep with procrastination determines whether it is toxic or not. On Tim Urban’s TedTalk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator”, he identifies three actors that are crucial in the procrastination process: the rational decision maker, the instant gratification monkey and the panic monster. While humans are rational beings and are expected to hand decisions to the “rational decision maker”, the gratification monkey is always close by to convince him otherwise and propose a distraction or a delay. The panic monster comes in when deadlines or consequences are looming to redirect the rational decision make to the right track and hastily do what is required.
Like Tim Urban also concluded, for me, human relationship with procrastination is what decides whether it’s a toxic trait or not. Since everyone practices procrastination somewhat, I am also a victim. I used to be notorious with deadlines, working most effectively when deadlines are near. But I’ve consciously been working to reduce how much I procrastinate drastically. For me, frequent procrastination makes one lose control of one’s life. And for me, being in control of my life is crucial. Constantly procrastinating hands over your life to the deadlines; so much that even when you’re not doing what is required, your mind is constantly stuck there, reminding you of the looming deadline or consequences. As against completing tasks and being mentally free from it, procrastinating does otherwise.
Managing procrastination can be done through different ways but two ways that have been resourceful for me are:
- Keeping a calendar:
I keep a calendar to keep track of tasks, deadlines and to-dos. This helps to reduce a cluster of workload that tends to come up when one is less observant.
- “Just do it” mindset:
This is a very psychological solution. When thoughts of a task come up and I’m to choose between doing it now or setting a time. I make a conscious effort to “just do it”. This also helps me to overcome the fear or “not doing it right” or “failing”. When I stop caring about the conventionally right way, it’s easier to get tasks done.
These measures have helped me take more control of my time and life.
Conclusively, with the growing responsibilities, I find these measures more valuable and important for me. More responsibilities translates to lesser free time and more items on the calendar. But with a seamless completion strategy, procrastination is better managed and productivity is better measured.