The Art of Procrastination

In honor of the fact that I have three different story lines going for the next part of my story, and that I am not sure which I want to share first, I want to talk a little bit about procrastination. I am the king of it. In fact I can think of at least 100 reasons on a Saturday morning why it is a better idea to watch Dr. Who in my underwear than get up and do anything from yard work to pouring out my soul to you, dear reader. Some days we just need that. Some days it is better to do nothing than anything else (at least for our sanity) but is it helpful for your end goal?

When I look at a monumental undertaking (which is usually how I roll—biting off way more than I can chew) a lot of the time all I see is all of the work I have in front of me. There are no pieces to the project, just the giant project itself. So at that first glance the best solution is usually to do anything else and give it a try again later, you know when I am more focused and whatnot. The only problem is that I am never more focused in this state of mind. It’s a vicious cycle, and completely counterproductive to getting anything at all done because you see I am good at applying this logic to just about anything except what I want to do at the moment (which is usually not productive at all).

So what the hell do I do about it? Well, there are a few tricks that get me through this process most of which are psychological games that I play to fool the chimp-like part of my brain into thinking things are a lot easier than they actually are. The truth is, most things we do that matter at all to our end goals are not difficult, they only appear that way if we look at them from a top down, big picture perspective. Big projects never work that way. They are often times small tasks that make up the larger idea which get lumped together, by me into a giant impossible task.

Step 1: Focus

Put down the Xbox controller and focus on something other than Grand Theft Auto V. That video game you are so addicted to (maybe not the previously mentioned, but you know what I mean) is not going anywhere, so taking a little time away from it is not going to kill your progress in something that is not going to have any real payoff.

Step 2: Compartmentalize

Breakdown that crazy big task you have made for yourself into smaller ones. Trick yourself into believing it is really just a few small things to do, and you know what? It actually is. All big jobs are just a bunch of smaller ones lumped together, with the end result acting as the glue that holds them together. Changing your perspective of the thing will be the solvent that breaks those bonds and creates a manageable series of steps to making your goals attainable.

Step 3: Prioritize

Now that you have a more clear view of what needs to be done, figure out what must be done first. Imagine that you have a bucket full of balls of different colors. Some are red, some yellow, and some green. The red balls are the jobs that cannot wait, so get that shit done. If you have time for other smaller tasks (yellow balls) then get them done as well, but don’t beat yourself up if you do not.

Step 4: Reasonable Expectations

If you are anything like me, you give yourself a bunch of work to complete, and then become a defeatist when only a portion of it gets completed. I suggest instead, set yourself small goals and celebrate the victories as they arrive and not just the one victory, which is the ultimate completion of the thing itself.

Step 5: Enjoy the Process

Even though this list is, for me, a reminder of how to get through the labor of what I love to do. It is not a job, but a joy so I try to remind myself to love the process of becoming what it is. If you have passion about what you are doing, it will never be work. Celebrate every milestone as it is passed, and success will be yours.

Don’t give up on what you believe in. As a man much smarter than me once said, “Be here next year.” Have the courage to do whatever it is you want to do if it is what you believe in, and what you want more than anything. Always remember your reason why. Your ‘why’ is the thing that will keep you going long after the initial feelings have passed you by. Your ‘why’ is everything.

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