There sits, on the desk of a friend of mine, a ‘procrastination calendar.’ Each and every day, the page is turned to a new quote engineered to fire up her productivity. A daily call to action gets revealed to inspire and motivate and ward off any time-wasting.
The problem is that most of the quotes seem to speak to or make excuses for, not producing much of anything. They even seem in favor of procrastinating. I know it’s not the intent of the calendar, but look at some of the quotes I’ve read.
“Imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, when you make delay and procrastination work for you.” – Hilary Mantel
Some, are so ridiculous the author has chosen to remain anonymous, and with good reason:
“The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.”
I can promise you folks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about procrastination. I can also promise you that the time I think about it the most is when there’s a deadline looming and I’ve let things go to the last minute.
Anyone who’s ever been guilty of procrastination (which is most of us) can relate to that. We have all, at one time or another, let things go till we couldn’t ignore them anymore.
While some folks may let time get the better of them once in a while, there are those that are serial procrastinators. These good people will try to convince you that their repeated bad use of time is all part of some master plan that always works out for them.
If that seems familiar to you on a regular basis, then it’s you I’m speaking to. Please know, my advice comes from a place of heartfelt concern. This is a tough to write as I’d much prefer to give you a reason to laugh, rather than talk about something that can be pretty uncomfortable.
If this isn’t you, read on anyway in the hope that serial procrastination will never get the better of you.
Dancing with Death
You see, there’s a huge problem with continually letting things go. When you dance with procrastination you dance with death.
I’m not talking grim reaper death here, but death is imminent. It’s coming for who you are and who you could become. That person may never exist for a serial procrastinator. Becoming a true master of whatever inspires you, what you love, takes real practice and it takes time. There’s no way around it.
There’s no good reason to let your self-confidence, your creativity, your reputation and even your health if you’re not careful, die a slow and painful death killed by the excuses for not stepping up and putting in the time. The minuscule rush you may feel by getting things in just before a deadline is nothing in comparison to the sacrifice you’re making to your credibility, reliability, and overall existence.
Let’s take a twelve-week project for example. The first couple weeks you, as the serial procrastinator, may have done a few things for the project, maybe a bit of research on the internet (most of that time spent on Facebook). You may have even added it the deadline to your calendar.
The death of your project has begun via your serial procrastination (and Facebook). But you know this, already. Every time you procrastinate that little voice that wants to save you, the inner ‘you’ that wants you to produce the best result possible and master your craft, starts interrupting your thoughts. At first it’s like a polite butler, it doesn’t speak loud or harshly.
“Forgive me if I’m overstepping my bounds, but you are running out of time for this project,” it seems to say. “You may want to get started on it.”
You hear the voice. You hear what it’s saying, but you don’t really listen. There’s so much more to do besides whatever project you’re supposed to be working on. (Let’s face it, fidget spinners were designed specifically for time-wasting and they’re selling like hotcakes).
As the deadline moves closer, however, the voice sounds a bit more panicky. It’s beginning to take on the tone of that scientist in an action movie who’s trying to get folks in charge to listen about her discovery. Her stats and charts are clearly showing there’s an asteroid on a collision course with earth. No one listens to her, mainly because she appears in the first 15 minutes of a two-hour movie, but you get the point. Knowing you probably should listen to it, you don’t want to. You’ll get it done. You tell the spazzy little voice to go away.
Finally, you’re at the point of no return. The deadline is all but here, the butler and the scientist have packed up and headed for safer grounds and you’ve done all of nothing. Now the dance of death begins in the form of cutting corners and sacrificing quality for a haphazard version of a finished result.
The Truth About Effort
Even if you’re happy with the result, you know the real truth. Your confidence is merely due to the calculation of what you’ve produced divided by the actual amount of time you put into it. You might even award yourself extra points for meeting the deadline (if you manage to).
You’re not thinking from the perception of everyone else. They’re looking at the what you’ve produced divided by the time you were given to complete the project. They expected something that takes twelve weeks to create. You’re patting yourself on the back for two days-worth of work.
The death-knoll of serial procrastination is the attitude then of, if they don’t like it, it’s their problem. You’ll convince yourself you did the best you could.
Imagine what you could have done, if when you got the project, you began to block out ten, twenty or even thirty minute tasks on different days, over the span of the project. What could you have accomplished if you had just taken those little chunks of time to work on your goal?
What if some of the tasks included getting the opinion of a trusted co-worker or even, some revision time? Think of it as this – when you’re a consumer that’s making a large purchase – do you want to spend your money on something of quality or are you okay with getting ripped off?
No one wants to get ripped off, of course. No one ever wants to throw their money away! We only have so much and we have other things we could spend it on. We all want our money to go to good use.
What’s More Important?
Your money is limited but so is your time. We all only have so much of both and just like you don’t want to be ripped off when you purchase something, you should be equally offended at the thought of constantly wasting your own time.
You deserve a life of quality so don’t settle for living a life of serial procrastination. Be a result of good, even great effort at whatever you do, and steer clear of any horrid little desktop calendars full of bad quotes. Life is too short.