Recent Posts
Monday, 17 October 2011

Procrastination infects my entire life

Procrastination infects my entire life. There is nothing that is excluded from its grasp. Finances, relationships, hygiene, laundry, exercise, car maintenance, absolutely everything is included.

I read a great book on Procrastination a couple of years ago. Everyone knows the joke about giving a procrastinator a book on Procrastination and them never getting around to reading it. This would have been me if the book had not been most likely the last book that my Uncle ever read. My Uncle died suddenly of a burst blood vessel in his brain. At his apartment we found a book he was reading on Procrastination. He had highlighted sections of it and it hit me hard, that my Uncle was trying to overcome some of the very issues that I faced then. He was in his late fifties and for him it turned out to be too late. Instead of taking his last book from his now widow, I purchased a copy for myself and read it through in a day. My personality was on display with basic explanations for the behaviour. It was captivating to read of the reasons behind my procrastination which I only thought might be the underlying causes. The part that stuck with me was that I wanted to be a perfectionist in everything that I did. However, what that meant was that I would have to put in the required time for the specific task. You can see where this is going. If I didn't feel I had enough time to do something through to the end and properly, I would choose to put it off and end up not doing it at all.

In the last years of University I realized this completely. I would put off completing a research paper for so long because I wouldn't be able to give it enough time in my opinion, that I waited until the very last few hours to complete it. By pushing myself to the brink of destruction I was able to justify my crappy paper by saying that something was better than nothing. So I was able to overcome my procrastination only when it became serious. I used to brag, as stupid young people do, that I started a 15 page research paper at 10:30pm when it was due in class at 9am the next morning. Now I feel humiliation when I tell someone this story and don't experience the ego boost that used to accompany it. The only person I hurt was myself and its a story of failure, not of success. You can see some of my thoughts about my university years in the post Real advice for University/College kids

So here comes the point where I tell you that ever since I read that book after my Uncle passed away that I turned my life around. Well guess what, I've procrastinated my way through the last few years right up until this point where it's hit me again. Isn't it amazing that a death of a family member and a real eye-opening experience were not enough to change a destructive habit. I am not exaggerating when I say that procrastination infects my entire life. To give an example, I visited Seattle sometime in September with my family, and at the hotel I went for a morning swim one day. The swimtrunks I wore that morning sat in a wet and soaking bag in my bedroom for an entire month. Why didn't I just wash it right away when I got home? It seems completely logical right? I even put it on my to-do lists, which procrastinators use extensively to try to actually accomplish something. I put it on my list time and time again and I couldn't get around to doing it. Finally one day I was willing to put the time into cleaning everything and washed them. It was so anti-climactic. I waited a month to do something I could have done in five minutes. So for every day that month it lingered in my mind that I should wash them. Instead of actually doing something, I thought about doing it for a month until the guilt built up so much that it overwhelmed the procrastination. Ridiculous.

Guilt and shame play an integral role in procrastinating.

Now I'm going to tell you that today is different. I've come to the conclusion again that I must put in the time required for things. I appreciate the saying "a jack of all trades is a master of none". When I try a little bit at everything and not focus on anything, I don't master anything. I then spiral further downwards as I don't see any results to my liking.

So how am I going to change? Accepting that things take time. If you want to do something well then you have to be willing to give it the time needed. I wrote a note to myself many years ago now which I still keep around.

Scared of the future.
Unhappy with the past.
Frozen in the present.

Today I am going to change. I am not just going to change my habits or my routines. I am going to change my entire life because procrastination infects everything that I do. I will complete things and be happy with the results. I will focus on specific goals and not vague future plans.

Let's see how it goes.


Post a Comment

Back To Top