Deadlines: the key to battle procrastination

Have you ever felt uncomfortable, stressed because you procrastinated? Have you ever felt that impending task looming in the back of your mind while you just tried to spend your time leisurely? Most likely, the pleasure of continuing whatever you were doing was greater than to actually get started, so the task got postponed. To “later today”. But “later today”, you are also too busy trying to shake that feeling you ‘have to’ get it finished, so “later today” becomes “tomorrow”, and when tomorrow arrives, you will tell yourself again: “tomorrow”. And so the cycle continues, till your deadline is so close, you just can’t wait anymore.

Sounds familiar? Feels like you? Looks exactly like a big part of your life?

Then here is the key to understanding yourself:
There are three parts to yourself
1 – Part of you makes rational decisions: it is responsible for postponing the fun stuff, to get the necessary stuff done, and to reach your goals. It encourages you to do what makes sense. This is the rational decision maker.
rational decision maker

2 – Another part of you loves instant gratification: it is the part that only cares about you getting whatever attracts your attention, now. Things that are easy and entertaining, like clicking another youtube link. It doesn’t care for what you did five minutes ago, or started doing what you did, and doesn’t care for what comes five minutes later. It just cares that now you have finished watching that instructional video, you click the link to that other interesting video in your suggested videos, which will do nothing more than satisfy your curiosity. This one can be called the instant gratification monkey. It tends to demand way more attention than the rational decision maker, and just keeps bugging you until you give in.
Your instant gratification monkey thrives on you being tired, because then your rational decision maker is too weak to resist.
It thrives on you feeling under the weather, because then you have an extra excuse to give in to instant gratification and tell yourself: “Well, if I want to get started I need to feel in the right mood first, so let’s get some gratification”.
The monkey thrives on you having listened to it before, because when you have already wasted time “what use is it to get started now? Better tomorrow, when you are all fresh”. Moreover, because the rational decision maker makes you feel so guilty for having listened to the instant gratification monkey before, now the guilt makes you feel under the weather and so the rational decision maker just bullied you into needing more instant gratification.
And finally, when you are feeling all happy having achieved some goal or at least having avoided a bad outcome, why not reward yourself with some…you guessed it: instant gratification!

gratification monkey

So you see, it really is hard NOT to let the instant gratification monkey run your life: he is screaming for attention all the time, and keeps encouraging you to consider any of your moods as a good enough excuse to just listen to him and let him run the business in your head. It is a wonder then that you get anything done at all.

Luckily, the third part of you can make the instant gratification monkey shut up and climb up the tree to hide. At least until you have reached your objective.

3 – The Panic Monster: this part of you is dormant most of the time, but wakes up as the deadline approaches. With some people it wakes up a bit earlier, with others it wakes up as close to the deadline as it thinks possible for you to still somehow make the deadline with an inhumane effort.
PM Scare 3

Obviously, this all sounds quite familiar, because you are one of those unique people that have just taken peace with the fact you are a procrastinator, and you have even proudly adopted this ‘cute’ and unique trait as part of your unique personality; a trait that makes you you. But hey, guess what? We are all procrastinators! Do you really think you are so unique? And what about those 1,590,000,000 monthly active facebook users? Do you really think their lives are filled with more purpose and continued persistence and rational choices about how to spend their time? Or could it be, that just like you, they only upload the few highlights of their days, weeks, or months, while the other 90% of the time they are procrastinating  just like you, regularly checking facebook updates of everyone else of their ‘friends’, and reminding themselves to take a picture next time they do something interesting just so they can prove to all these ‘friends’ they really do more than just procrastinate all the time? True, sometimes they do something really cool, and so do you. But, just like you, most of their day is just routine drifting away in thoughts, youtube videos, social media, and such in the midsts of having to do ‘work’ or ‘studying’. So no, stop deluding yourself into thinking you are unique and cute for procrastinating. You are just plain and common. Want to stand out, then start organising your life, working towards your ambitions, and assigning a regular fixed, but limited time for distractions that keep the monkey quiet.

If you are lucky enough to become 90 years old, then this is your life in weeks:



So now ask yourself: how many weeks did you let your dreams and ambitions go to waste because of that stupid monkey?
Want to change that? Want to prevent dying dreams and ambitions dying with you when you reach the end of this chart? (Hopefully not sooner, but likely it will be!)
Then set yourself deadlines! Ask yourself what your dreams are! Give yourself a reason to wake up that panic monster frequently and get your stuff done!



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