My life in a nutshell:
Procrastination has always been an obsession of mine. And, as aggravating as it is, I must love doing it, because I am an always putting something off till later. In school, I was always the one who accepted the challenge of “don’t wait till the last minute to start that paper”. I did this, somewhat, because writing comes easy for me and, also, I think, that I thrive under the pressure, to a point. But, for the most part, I think it was because, when I start to work on a project, something more pleasant to me than the current project presents itself and I follow after it, instead of the project. This happens to me whether, I’m doing housework, looking after the kids, doing a school project, or any aspect of my life. In fact, in the course of writing this post, I will, undoubtedly, go get a drink, go to the bathroom three times, and pause for thirty minutes to watch a video of Darth Vader and some storm troopers dance. It doesn’t help that I, also, have Anna and Matthew, who are endless sources of distraction. For most of my life, it has been something that I really haven’t given much thought, but, lately, I realize that it is one of the habits that is, really, keeping me from being where I could be in life.
So, I need to change, or, at least, work with this tendency in my life. Now, this hasn’t just happened overnight. I’ve been this way from the get go. In elementary school I used to daydream during class and then bring all the classwork home and work on it there. This isn’t intentional, it’s just the way a procrastinator’s mind works. Earlier this year, I stumbled across a fantastic article by Tim Urban called, Why Procrastinators Procrastinate. If you want a diagram of Justin Register’s brain and how it works, just click on the link.
Changing the paradigm, or making the current paradigm work:
So, the reason I’m writing this is that I want to change this or at least create a system that will help me manage this problem. I’ve researched some strategies on the internet, (there are tons of them) and have come to 5 strategies that I’ve personally seen work in other people. Over the next month or so I’ll try them and see if this helps any.
- “Own-up” to the problem: They say the first step to changing a behavior is to admit you have it. So, here it is. My name is Justin Register….and…I’m a procrastinator. Okay, there! I did it. This seems simplistic, but if you choose to ignore a problem or put it off, you’ll never begin to change it.
- Make lists: I am a visual person. If I see something written down, I’m much more apt to remember to do it, than if I just commit it to memory. (In fact, the act of writing something down often allows me to trigger that memory later, even if I don’t carry the list on my person). On this list I plan to put down everything I do then, place these activities into two categories; “what I must do” and “what I want to do”. After this, I will prioritize these items and schedule a portion of my week to doing these tasks.
- Make a Schedule: Now that I have a prioritized list of my activities I will then make a schedule for each of these tasks. Some of these will be routine, others will be things that only have to happen on certain days. On this schedule, It is important to make sure that I make significant time for things that are “not as fun” as well as things that are, actually, fun. Otherwise, I won’t stick with it. This is important because it allows me to break, particularly, scary or daunting things (like housework) into manageable chunks and still have some fun.
- Actually do the schedule: A problem with numbers 2 and 3 is that they involve planning only. A, true, procrastinator is actually a master planner, because planning distracts from doing. So, this has to be a separate step for me. I have to go through and start checking items off these lists and schedules. Am I going to be able to follow them exactly? No! Will there be things that distract me? Constantly! I can’t be rigid, but I can follow it as close as possible and not allow the distractions make me afraid to get back on track. Then, once these items start going off my list, doing becomes fun. The “instant gratification monkey” becomes gratified by accomplishing not only the things he needs to do, but also the things he’s dreamed of doing for years, but has put off.
- Be Accountable: I am blessed to have many people in my life that are here to help me. They, undoubtedly, know I have this problem and they will keep me on track if I come to them with issues. They may even be able to help me accomplish some of these tasks I’ve been dreading.
This post is an effort, on my part, to “own up” to my problem. Maybe I’ll, finally. be able to manage this procrastination problem if only I begin this, well-researched, strategy…tomorrow.