How much have we all complained about our own procrastination?
Procrastinating has been considered as the plague of productivity recently, notably due to social media. Indeed, just opening Facebook or YouTube can send you down a rabbit hole for hours on end.
While I personally have been able to repress my urge to use social media for the past few years, I have wasted quite a lot of time on games since I got the switch in 2017. Just as a quick proof, I’ve spent 245 hours on Zelda: Breath of the Wild, more than 360 hours on Super Smash Bros Ultimate, 130 hours on Xenoblade 2 and upwards of 50 hours on many others. As a whole, I have spent about 25 workweeks playing the Switch while I could have done other more productive things.
Of course, resting is important and its importance should not be overlooked. Playing a game here and there, watching YouTube a bit, checking Facebook, etc. are all fine. If in controlled doses.
To put it in simple terms, procrastination is pushing back something we know we should do but don’t have the motivation to start now.
Let’s analyze its two main concepts.
We should act
The main reason we see procrastinating as a problem is a dissonance created by our brain. We know we should act and yet, we don’t. Because of this, we find ourselves creating a subconscious internal battle between our values and who we demonstrate we are.
You wanted to write that article and ended up on Facebook. You wanted to practice your instrument and yet you didn’t. You wanted to learn a language and now you’re watching Netflix.
What we want to accomplish connects with our values. The reason behind those is that we believe those actions will push ourselves further.
When we don’t actually follow up on those, we find ourselves disappointed by ourselves.
The motivation simply isn’t there
As we say in French, “Il y a des jours avec et des jours sans”. This literally translates in English as “There are days with and days without” but to simplify it, here’s the closest I found: “There are good days and bad days”.
Not all days are created equal. At least in terms of personal results. We will sometimes wake up full of motivation and the next day feel sluggish from morning to night.
It’s just a matter of accepting each day as a separate entity. You cannot be great at everything every single day. Even the best tennis player in the world will have days during which they won’t play at their best.
Accept this and move on. Hoping motivation will be present every day is the one mistake you need to stop right now.
But what if procrastination wasn’t a bad thing? What if you could use it and turn those bad days into somehow good ones?
Prepare for the good days
Now that you have made your peace with the presence of bad days, you shouldn’t forget: good ones do exist.
During days of lack of motivation and energy, we tend to believe this will last for a long time and just keep on digging deeper and deeper in our procrastination.
Any goal has innumerable ways to get there and needs varied skills and actions to be reached.
If you can’t find the motivation for a specific part of your goal, try to act on a related but different part of it!
Posting daily (on my blog) for this year is a goal but there are days where I simply cannot get myself to actually write. The last time I had one of such days, I accepted my fate of giving up the “advance” I had (the day’s article was already written the day before and was scheduled in) and spent hours thinking of articles which would interest me and could be great to write on a later day.
Guess where this piece came from after all!
Do something else!
Let’s be honest for a moment.
I hope to be right when I say you have more than one single objective in your life.
Of course, there’s always one objective which takes over the rest but there’s always something else, isn’t there?
I want to improve my writing, to write more and more. But I also want to learn more languages, spend time with my girlfriend, learn some coding languages, become good enough at Smash Ultimate to take part in small competitions, etc.
When you don’t have the motivation to act on your main goal, after having tried and not being able to keep your focus at all, you can turn to other ones!
Our first instinct for procrastinating is to turn to non-productive tasks. This feeling of procrastination, however, is focused on the one task you are pushing away.
Why not start doing something else which will allow you to actually make this “wasted time” turn into “productive time”.
Yes, it isn’t what you should do originally, but at least you’re doing something positive!
And you know what? The next time you want to procrastinate on that other thing, maybe you’ll feel more like doing the one you gave up on today.
In the long run, small positive actions compound to turn into great things so just keep on evolving. One small step at a time.