We all have bad habits: Smoking, nail-biting, littering. For me, procrastination is one particular vice that I would like to give up for good — if I could just get around to it.
They say don’t do tomorrow what you can do today. And I try, I really I do. I repeat this mantra over and over again, but I always wind up pushing those nagging tasks to the back of my mind until it’s too late. When faced with an unwanted chore I’m too willing to delegate the task to Future Jessica.
I thought that once I had pulled my final all-nighter and left my student lifestyle behind I would stop cramming for exams and grow out of my counterproductive tendencies. And yet here I am, years later and I’m still leaving things to the last minute.
There are tons of tasks — both big and small — that I avoid day in and out. From scrubbing out the dirt in between the keys on my MacBook to changing the light bulb that burnt out in 2009, there is no chore I won’t ignore. I have become a certified hesitator, an expert dawdler.
Why do so many of us spend our time avoiding the inevitable?
There are plenty of excuses; perhaps you “work best under pressure” or are easily distracted or there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But I think we all realize that, ultimately, procrastination isn’t really about time management at all.
The desire to postpone those less than exciting tasks doesn’t come down to scheduling; it’s all about choice, and maybe a little anxiety. I didn’t file my tax return at 8 p.m. on April 30 because I didn’t have time; it was because I really, really didn’t want to do it.
Knowing you should do something and putting it off regardless is a psychological problem not an organizational one.
Starting the job, whether it’s an unruly pile of laundry or a long list of emails that need replies, is always the hardest part. The key is to reframe these tasks in your mind — don’t focus on the hard work associated with a studying for a test but the satisfaction you will get from finishing it.
When we take the time (pun intended) to rethink our reasons for delaying and dilly-dallying then we might actually figure out how to move past this bad little habit … eventually.