Most of the time, we think that we are procrastinating because the task is too big, it would take too much time so we don't start it right away. So we're pushing it back until we can actually make some time for it and chill first.
But we don't only procrastinate on the big task like finding a new job, or cleaning up the entire flat, or writing a paper. We procrastinate also on the tiny daily tasks such as taking out the trash, washing the coffee cups in the sink, opening our mail, putting away our clothes.... And this is not due to time management. We all know that each of these tasks would take us less than 5 minutes. WHY?
Because the task might seem too boring or might make us feel bad about our incompetence, so instead of doing it, we are going to distract ourselves using all the different online platforms. However the longer we are pushing back whatever task it is, the more frustrated we get and the worse we feel about ourselves. So it turns out, procrastination is all about managing our emotions.
In the YB12 keynote presentation, we've identified 4 major issues that cause a person to procrastinate. 1. Setting the wrong goals
2. Having unclear focus
3. Not having an action plan
4. Mental Barriers
In this post I will not be talking about mental barriers, as this will open just another box of Pandora.
So let's go back to our daily lives, if our goal is simply to have the trash out so we can replace the bin with the clean bag, doesn't it sound too boring? Our goal is just too low here. Therefore let's just put our focus on something that is more uplifting or cheerful like watching a couple of funny memes. Hey, where's your action plan for taking out the trash now?
How about studying for exams? The goal is that by the weekend you are done with finance so you can move on to economics. But if you haven't started studying at all, and there are 356 pages to learn in just a few days, sitting down to do it now will just remind you of how little you were concentrated on the lessons throughout the semester. Plus, you've till got some time until the weekend, it's only Tuesday, so watching "friends" to distract yourself from the anxiety sounds like the good action plan.
Studies have shown that chronic procrastination can be linked to depression and anxiety. If I fast forward now jumping from the studies into the corporate life, people are getting more and more burnouts and start to believe that it is because they don't like what they do. What do you think about that? I am quite familiar with emotional burnout as it took me 6 months of full time traveling and working on myself to come back into the normal state again. I just had that urge to leave my life behind, stay away as far as possible with no reminder of my workplace. I only realised now, two years later that it was not caused by my job.
My anxiety came from all the other things that were falling apart in my personal life. This feeling of having everything fall out of control and work became a refuge where I spent way too much time for many years. I became depressed at work, because that was where I spent all my time. I became anxious at work, because that was where I could put myself in action. I resented work, because I thought it was my escape from the rest but turns out it wasn't. And what does this have to do with procrastination? I knew I needed to take action over my work-life balance, I knew I needed to hold that conversation that I didn't want to have, I knew that it was time for change but the darkness seemed quite comfortable somehow. So all these things that I had dealt with until the moment I needed to run away, that was me postponing my tasks.
Procrastination can also affect our relationships as we break the commitments with our loved ones. And before we let it take on our health and mental wellbeing, we need to understand that beating procrastination requires emotional agility. Like my mentor would always tell me: "we need to be emotionally agile, to dance with the moment".
And you know what? the worst about procrastination is really living with it on a daily basis. Because when we procrastinate and pretend we do not care, we are actually letting small things become monsters. The frustration that comes along with it turns us into self-critical and even more judgemental of our own weaknesses.
So how do we beat it on the daily tiny tasks?
Get it done now!
Do you need to take out the trash?
Your goal should be bigger: you want a clean kitchen (therefore it's not just about the trash bag). So in those 5 minutes, you might as well clear up the 2 cups in the sink.
Think of what's going to be next step after that, maybe you'll get to do something more interesting like properly sitting down for a movie. And now you're not feeling guilty for that trash popping out anymore!
Want anymore tips on your daily life? :)