Procrastination is one of the greatest problems in my life, but I just never get around to solving it.
Tim Urban stands on the Ted stage and perfectly explains what the mind of a procrastinator looks like. It’s a constant struggle between the Rational Decision Maker, The Instant Gratification Monkey and The Panic Monster.
A comical characterisation of Procrastination yet it resonated with myself and others in the class. We listen to the monkey, fear the monster and leave the decision maker in a constant state of anxiety.
Last semester in college I had a design assignment. I was given the brief in September, it was due in December. December swings around the corner and I have very little of my assignment done. The lecturer hands the class an early Christmas Present, the deadline has been pushed until January 17th. A FULL MONTH. Block capitals are necessary to stress the fact that I had a full month to work on this assignment and this assignment alone. No other classes, no other distractions. It is also important to note that this was worth 50% of my grade. So of course I would spend the majority of my Christmas break creating the best design project of my college career.
January 16th came along. I woke at 9am and by 9pm I had the assignment complete.
Now if it took me 12 hours to complete this massive assignment, which I did get great marks for, imagine what I could have created if I didn’t put it off so long.
Procrastination is a terrible inflection. It trumps time management and organisational planning and even logical thought. So what can I do to stop it?
Because those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Every year I say I will change. I am determined to work hard and not be distracted by funny cat videos or scrolling aimlessly through Instagram. And every year I fail. So if I can stop Procrastinating, why punish myself? We tend to paint technology as the villain. ‘I can’t focus with my phone constantly staring at me, begging for attention’ Or ‘The internet is temptation’ This can be somewhat true. I myself have checked Facebook 4 times, sent 2 snapchats, responded to a text and looked up music on Apple Music, since starting this blog post. However it is unfair to blame the internet and technology for our own shortcomings.
A psychologist Piers Steel, did research back in 2007 about Procrastination and College Students. His report claims that between 80 to 90% of college students procrastinate from their college work. Steel also reports that roughly 26% of the population are chronic procrastinators.
2007. A time pre-smartphone. The internet was still a toddler verse the adult we deal with today. So if we have always procrastinated, will we continue to do so in the future?
Tim Urban doesn’t claim to have the solution, which I found refreshing. Urban doesn’t scold you for loosing focus while working, instead he sympathises. The TED Talk itself was written in a deadline looming panic. Do we need a deadline? A carrot at the end of a stick?
I know I do. In my previous post about my Personal development plan, I talk about how I want to be a writer, yet I never write. Because no one is telling me to write. I don’t have a publisher who needs a book in 8 weeks. Maybe its our structured school system that creates a mindset of having deadlines to work towards. Without a delivery date, we would procrastinate until the end of time.
I think if the work gets done, and it is of satisfactory quality then procrastinate all you like, or at least until your Netflix subscription runs out.