Why are human beings like this and why do so many fall into this trap. Why we Delay our task even know we know it comes at a cost.
Exactly 2 years ago, I lost 15+ kg and wrote an answer on Quora which got more than 100k views. Now looking at this you must be thinking that I am 1 hot-shot and my fitness journey is on track. But do you know what is my current weight now? It’s 105 kg now and do you know the reason because I said I’ll start tomorrow!
When we get a task at hand and when we have a lot of time for it, we with all the good intentions create a plan on how systematically we will complete the task, we follow it for a few days, and then life happens and then before going to bed, koi nhi, I’ll start from tomorrow.
I thought to myself that I am a world-class procrastinator. But I am not alone, the whole world is going bonkers about procrastination as there are countless books, research papers, and Youtube videos on the topic. There is a research group on procrastination for god sake.
80 to 95% of students do it and some of it is chronic and it follows us in graduation. I’ve come to realize that everyone is affected with procrastination and even I somehow while creating this video procrastinated. The most common excuse is I work better under pressure. Research shows that those who tend to procrastinate, they are more likely to experience poor study habits, depression , anxeity and low self esteem. Certainly, it is the most damaging habit out there.
Starting of each year we promise that we will be a better version of ourselves, we will manage our tasks but its always that we are kidding ourselves. We always start our work before our deadline and we make countless excuses to ourselves as to why we are delaying it.
Why we say I’ll start tomorrow
What people think causes procrastination?
1. poor time management skills
2. The activity
Temporal motivation theory created by Dr Steele where he created a formula where motivation = expectancy x value / Impulsiveness x delay.
Procrastination research group which talk about it. And I read in the group that The point is that complex human behaviors are not best understood by simple equations or formula, although the theories can be useful in our discussion of bevahior . Ais thoda hota nhi hai naa bhaiyya and life also happens and emotional side also comes into play.
Research after research have shown that its something to do with your emotions and feelings about a task. It not about avoiding work its avoiding feeling , most importantly negative feelings – lack of confidence, fear of failure, anxiety, even fear of success. When we set the task aside we suddenly feel better and we don’t have to feel those feelings.
Lets see some examples of negative emotions. When you think of filing taxes or imagine it, we get some negative emotions around it. I personally get the emotions of fear and doubt that I might not be able to do it properly. And my work audits which causes the emotions of boredom which is causing me to procrastinate.
While introspecting myself, I found that as a student I was surrounded by folks getting better grades then me, therefore I delayed starting my study as Defense mechanism to not say that I’m not good enough but I didn’t got the time to do it.
Wired into us, the brain is designed to survive and not thrive. When we have food shelter and a partner our brain thinks that I don’t need to do anything else and try to preserve our energy. Our survival physic doesn’t know what entrepreneurship is or anything about climbing the corporate ladder.
When our brain experience that negative emotion, it thinks that this particular task might cause harm to the precious comfort in our life and treat it as a danger. In modern days it doesn’t work like that right.
To avoid this our brain try to rationalize it with excuses or try to distract us like activities which causes instant gratification like Instagram, Pubg ( now banned completely), emails, porn etc etc etc. The excuses are quite endless.
These are called Downward Counterfactual – statements that reflect a desire to improve one’s mood in the short term.
Do you get emotional when anyone talks about feelings and emotions? Fret not, I have a different analogy for you normal non-scientific friendly people.
In every procrastinator mind, there is a steering wheel, a rational decision maker and along with that there is a instant gratification monkey. What the monkey does is sabotage the plan of the direction rational thinker want to follow and rather wants us to something else and then YouTube Video spiral on how to get a seamless transition on my video edit and then ultimately a interview on how dogs saved someone lives. and the whole day just go like wind. The monkey wants something which is easy and fun and which is available in the present. He doesn’t care about past or the future he wants the fun right now!
Rational decision maker which we talked about earlier wants to do what makes sense and sometimes there is a match between the monkey and rational thinker that chalo let me take a break and ultimately end up doing what the monkey wants as its annoying to get poked again and again by the monkey.
The rational thinker follows the monkey forgetting about the task and spend most of the time following the monkey which is not earned and it leads to guilt and dread and misery for the rational thinker.
Oh, I forgot to tell, there is also a panic monster in our brain who is asleep most of the time, but becomes active when a deadline gets too close, or when there is public embarrassment involved, Co-workers judging or career disaster. BTW the monkey is terrified of the panic monster. Panic monster instruct the rational thinker to take the wheel and then we are able to complete the task.
For a chronic procrastinator like me, when my friend pitched for the idea, the rational thinker says that we need to sit down and make a plan and follow the plan because it makes sense for him to do it. The monkey says its fine but lets just open google earth and see how my ex girlfriend house looks from top because I starred it 7 years back. And that’s what I did that day ( add a big emoji on the video)
Now I also had a deal or bet that I will release the video by Sunday this week or I’ll have to give a big treat and panic monster showed up and monkey got away and magically I got superpowers to compete this video on time, I had sharp focus to finish my work.
This idea of panic monster works wonders when there is a deadline , but doesn’t work when there is no deadline( examples are our passions, our fitness goals, talking to your relatives) That causes us to say I’ll do it tomorrow! We are spectators to our long term projects because we say I’ll do it tomorrow which causes frustration.
How to fix procrastination?
Before telling you how to fix it, let me take a moment to thank you all and if you like the video, or you think it can help others as well. Please consider sharing it with your friends who tend to procrastinate or like the video to boost if for the YouTube algorithm to show this video to other relevant viewers.
One thing which we often hear from my friends or family is that jaa jaake kaam kar. Or there is a trend that follow your passion, but then famous writers have admitted they have procrastinated and they were actually following their passion so it can hit the best of us, so its not one size fits all.
if you consider yourself lazy, see what things do you do when you are procrastinating. For a chronic procrastinator, everything else would be done but the most important looming task is not yet started. We often blame the work which we are procrastination ki its not worthy enough for our time.
Perfectionist will have a hard time from stop judging. We can judge our work after we have created our first draft.
You have to be aware that you are procrastinating. Look for moments
There is no 1 size fits all when it comes to fixes
I’ll give 6 tips which might help you, apply the one’s or two’s with you resonate the most and how it feels.
- For starters, go easy on yourself. instead of beating yourself, show some compassion on yourself. Release yourself from the guilt. forgive yourself and acknowledge that there is no perfect time to do it.
- Redefine success , new version of tasks or ask. If you have had to complete 3 chapters in 1 day and only managed to complete 1 by 11PM. Make your goal to complete 2 chapters which is much more manageable.
- Clear distractions and make it optimized for that task . creating task list and view it many many times. Ask yourself, that do you need the phone with while you are doing your workout, or do you need the internet while you do your Maths problem. when you are close to distractions you are tend to attract them. Mummy kahin na kahin thik hai ki naaspite phone se dur reh
- Break down your tasks into small chunks. and you should not overload your days as it can become a big list and then you will procrastinate again. Stay motivated and create goals.
- don’t think about the task, just think that you have to devote the time to work. Pomodoro Technique.
- Flow state is a great thing which defeats procrastination. The first step always is the most daunting, for most that’s the most challenging thing.
I mean everyone is some way or the other is procrastinating something in their lives and we need to take a hard look at what they are doing as we don’t have much time. Some people have good relationships with deadlines. But the sneaky monkey always comes and we don’t even know until the deadlines hits for others.
This all looks very good in paper and when you are explaining this to others but me myself is also not following the advise which I give sometimes which is ironic. No body is perfect that is for sure. Even if you are aware its very hard to change them, but I hope this video will help in overcoming your procrastination little by little.
We don’t have much time and we have to be aware of the instant gratification monkey and think hard and start today, I mean not today todayyy. But you know sometime soon.
May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fearsNelson Mandela