How I’ll Cure My Procrastination (Again)

Way back in my college years as a freshman and sophomore I was a notorious procrastinator. I would do anything but what I should be doing. In those days, back in Ohio, you could drink  3.2  beer at the age of 18. The laws have since changed and now you must be 21 or over to drink any alcoholic beverage in the state of Ohio. That’s not to mean freshman and sophomores in Ohio don’t drink. Its just that it was legal then.

All it took in those days was for someone to enter my dorm room and say. “hey, you wanna go for a beer?” and I would be gone. Or you could ask me to go shopping or do the laundry or anything except study or write that term paper. If the paper was due, or I had a test in the morning, I would be up all night writing the paper or cramming for the test.  Even though I had known about the deadline for weeks, I would wait until the very last minute to start.

I kept this procrastination up until my junior year when I married my high school sweetheart and continued my studies at the university. Marriage was actually a good thing for me. I buckled down and stopped procrastinating and kept on top of all my tasks. I made the dean’s list both my junior and senior year because I didn’t procrastinate.

After graduation I took a job as a pharmaceutical rep and later as a medical device sales person. Between marriage, having children and working the ”job”, procrastination was mostly a thing of the past. Now that I’m retired, I see it creeping back into my life and I am not liking it. So I’ve decided to delve into my procrastination and find out exactly what it is and why I do it. Actually I put it off for a week and…. now I’m doing it (ha ha).

Jason Fladlien in his report How to Eliminate Procrastination says procrastination doesn’t exist. That it’s a figment of my imagination. According to Jason its (procrastination) definition is simply “prolonged hesitation”.  He says “think about it, do you ever hesitate to hesitate?” Don’t you actually IMMEDIATELY act on procrastinating? So you don’t procrastinate….. ever.  According to Jason that’s good to know. Believe that?

Put simply, procrastination is putting off either starting or completing something that we consciously agreed to do. Putting things off can temporarily reduce our anxiety about a task, alleviate boredom or other unpleasant feelings associated with the work. It can also indulge our impulses to do more interesting things (like in my freshman and sophomore years). In the long term, people who procrastinate tend to do less well on tasks than they otherwise would have. This leads some people to never reach their goals. In the end, procrastination often creates more problems than it solves.

When people procrastinate its not that they aren’t doing anything. They simply aren’t doing something that’s more important. I do get a lot done you see, just not some of the important things. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing. They do marginally useful things like cutting the grass or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files (when they get around to it). Why do procrastinators do these things? Because they do not have something more important. If  all a procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no forces on earth could get them to do it. The procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult timely and important tasks as long as these tasks are Not more important than other tasks on the list.

Let’s be clear on something. I am not lazy. I have no shortage of energy.  I have no interest in watching TV all evening. Waking up after 5:30 AM is sleeping in for me, even on Saturday and Sunday. I actually like working and being busy. Yet I am starting to exhibit a consistent failure to work through my day-to-day tasks, errands and projects in a manner that would be considered timely. Nearly every “important” task must reach some deadline for me to finally move on it. Like writing this post for example. It’s Sunday afternoon and I want to watch a basketball game (March Madness you know). I need to get this post out and here I am at the 11th hour (not literally) still trying to complete the task. I’m just glad it’s not April 15th and I have to use my lack of getting my taxes in as an example.

So how can I overcome this procrastination? I may try and trick myself. I read where you can make your task list and make the top priority a task that seems to have a clear deadline but really doesn’t. Tell myself that it is a really important task, but isn’t and add in other tasks that I’d like to get done and do.

Does this sound feasible? I’ll let you know how this works out…….after the game.