Has this ever happened to you?
You sit down, you have an important task that you need to finish, but then suddenly you find yourself scrolling through the Instagram and liking bunch of Bullet journaling spreads.
Or, you realize you need to feed your cat.
Or, it’s already 12 pm. you should have lunch now, then get back to the important task.
Next thing you know, the day is gone, and you haven’t even started the task.
If this seems familiar, then you know what I am talking about — the mysterious and unbreakable spell of procrastination.
Procrastination according to google-
Avoid procrastination, what a simple solution!
Victory! All wars have been won.
I wish it was possible to just avoid procrastination, but it’s a very serious issue. Procrastinators feel a real, physical pain.
In fact, Barbara Oakley, in her book “A Mind For Numbers”, says,
“We procrastinate about things that make us feel uncomfortable. Medical imaging studies have shown that mathphobes, for example, appear to avoid math because even just thinking about it seems to hurt. The pain centers of their brains light up when they contemplate working on math.”
What’s our natural reaction when we’re confronted with pain? Avoidance. – Nils Salzgeber
“That’s why we procrastinate: Certain tasks make us feel bad and in order to mitigate these uncomfortable and painful feelings, we simply avoid the task. Problem solved. At least for now.”
A study from 1997 at Western Reserve has found that college-age procrastinators ended up with higher stress, more illness, and lower grades by the end of the semester.
I’m not a professional at any of this. I have been a procrastinator for all my life who thinks about procrastination all day long, then curse myself for being a procrastinator.
I am in constant battle with my procrastination-self. Recently, though I was able to cope with my problem and work on my productivity.
I know that I am not the only one in this world who reads all those “20 tips to beat procrastination” articles all the time and never implements any of those tips in real life.
That’s why I am here to talk little bit about the psychology behind procrastination and share a simple tip I discovered several months ago from WIll Smith that helped me improve productivity and beat some of my procrastination tendencies.
I have a feeling that this little tip will work for anyone who just wants to get things done.
This might even cure your procrastination.
Watch this video and keep on reading.
Will Smith explains-
“You don’t try to build a wall.You don’t set out to build a wall.
You don’t say I am gonna make the biggest worst greatest wall that’s ever been built.
You don’t start there.
You say I am gonna lay this brick as a perfectly a brick can be laid and you do that every single day. And soon you will have a wall.”
When I saw this video a couple of months back, I got goosebumps.
His words get me thinking about my life and the world.
Maybe you don’t need to get rid of procrastination?
Maybe you just need to get the work done and not think much about it.
Let’s talk about why Will Smith’s advice of “laying a brick at a time” will help you beat procrastination?
First, though, I want to attack some myths about procrastinators never achieving anything or having a mediocre life. It may be true regarding some people, but it doesn’t mean all procrastinators cannot achieve their dream or become someone people will look up to.
Many famous people in the world have claimed themselves as a procrastinator, such as:
Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the world’s greatest architects, who drew plans for the magnificent Falling Water house in mere hours just before the meeting where he was supposed to present.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a world-class procrastinator. It took him 16 years to finish Mona Lisa. We are glad that he didn’t focus on finishing earlier such a wonderful creation which is priceless now.
Talk about putting off work. (This guy)
Then there is Margaret Atwood, creator of The Handmaid’s Tale, said to suffer from serious procrastination. Can you believe it?
A writer with 14 Novels, 9 short stories and 16 poetry books.
A procrastinator? Seriously?
So, what is the actual problem behind procrastination?
You see, the problem is that procrastinators spend more time on deciding than on doing. It’s called “Decision Paralysis”.
The problem also can be much deeper in human psychology. Kris Gage believes the main reason is “Low Self-Esteem”.
Kris Gage talks about this in her article at Medium. She amazingly explains how low self-esteem hold us back in living our life to the fullest.
In her words-
“So many of us (myself included) are woefully bad at this, building lives that don’t work and not even realizing it, instead unknowingly soothing the disconnect with day-to-day fixes and pleasant distractions, and finding ourselves unable to take action on “what we want.” …
Having lives that serve us starts and end with us. And once we develop self-esteem, “deciding” becomes a lot more obvious”
(“This” here is referring to- not knowing what happiness is for us and what we actually want)
People either get confused by having lots of options, or they don’t know what their options are.
It isn’t perfectionism or fear of judgment that results in procrastination.
How we can move past this decision paralysis or low self-esteem?
Hence, enters Will Smith- “Lay one brick at a time.”
Some might say, “Isn’t this advice somewhat self-indulging? Like, it’s okay to procrastinate as long as you get some work done….eventually.”
Yes and no.
Yes — if there is lack of motive/inspiration behind the goal you want to achieve then this advice or strategy will be lazy or self-indulging.
No — if you think big and work smart.
Here is how I used Will Smith’s advice-
Its December now; we are a month away from 2019.
I told myself that 2019 will not be the same for me. I will take my side-hustle seriously and position myself as an expert.
What I did was that I wrote myself an email — a very long, unfiltered email with the subject line—
“For Future Fatama” (super corny)
I wrote everything I needed and wanted to do for my business and life, and also what I wanted to achieve.
Then, I broke them into small tasks. I spread the work throughout the first 6 months, then 3, and then 1 month, and then into 7 days.
See, one of my problems was, whenever I would get to work, I would get overwhelmed by the volume of tasks I had to do, and I wouldn’t get anything done.
I would stop putting myself out there, thinking, “Why would anyone trust me, or listen to me?”
By listing out all the work, worries and desires and then breaking them down into a weekly work plan. I no longer have to decide what to do next.
Decision paralysis removed.
Then, following the great words of Will Smith, I would pour myself into one task at a time as perfectly I could.
And with each cross I make in my to-do list, it actually excites me to head on to the next task.
This actually builds confidence. Confidence increases productivity and self-esteem.
Thus, we just created the best remedy to solve two biggest problems of procrastination — decision paralysis and low self-esteem.
Can you see the light?
A simple story, but such a big impact.
I believe we are all procrastinators; we procrastinate in many things and most of them has no deadlines.
–taking care of our health,
-Developing new habit,
-Start a business,
-Volunteer and so on.
Procrastinators have a great talent, or you might also call it a skill.
The skill is doing everything at the last minute.
A person who couldn’t even get started on an essay for 7 days magically pulls an all-nighter, finishes the essay and submits it just before the deadline. Only a true procrastinator can pull this off.
Somehow all excuses fly out of the window; creative juices boil up like the liquid oxygen of a rocket ship; you forget about everything. your complete focus is on getting the essay done.
If only I could get focused like this everyday. (sad mind wishes)
While you are getting everything done, you feel guilty, angry, sad and even sometimes depressed. This will not help you with anything, nor its good for your mind and health.
We are heading towards a new year.
Stop waiting for deadlines. Stop hating yourself, and accept that you are a procrastinator.
Start growing and improving from there.