I like to believe I’m efficient. Highly efficient. And I don’t mean this in an arrogant, chest thumping kind of way. I just mean, I hate keeping people waiting or having long to-do lists or doing tomorrow what can be done today. I feel an unnecessary pressure when there’s outstanding tasks. I like to get things done. And in many cases this is a good thing. But not always. There are times when waiting or procrastinating helps us provide better solutions or responses. In many cases, I’ve noticed that it’s better to wait a few minutes when emotions are involved before responding or when more detailed, complex responses are required to a question. Yes, waiting is better. I’m still learning this technique of pausing.
On the flip side, I’m what I think of as a professional student. Whether it’s a short course, online course, intense thesis driven program, I’m always doing something to keep me busy with learning. When I sign up for a programme, I plan out my days mentally. I see myself doing all the right things by being meticulous and driven. I potentially even outline all these things in a planner or calendar. Sounds incredible, right?
Except when I reflect back on my time spent doing all this studying and being so studious, it actually tends to be minimal. I’m not efficient. I’m so low on the efficiency scale when it comes to studying that I tend to forget that I’m actually supposed to be studying. I have some pending deadline hovering at the back of my mind, it’s so hidden it only pops out a day or two before the deadline. It’s terrible.
Step in Tim Urban and his Ted Talk, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.” (Watch here: https://go.ted.com/CyVo).
I watched this Ted Talk because I was procrastinating about finishing a project and I wanted to know why I couldn’t get myself to just get up and do it. I therefore did the most logical thing I could think of and I tried to learn about my procrastination and why I was procrastinating. No jokes on this being the thought process and actions.
Before listening to the Ted Talk, I thought there was only one kind of procrastination and I thought there was only one way to think of it. i.e. We have a task. Task has a deadline. We delay doing anything until said deadline arrives. I also just assumed that if you were a procrastinator, you were one in all areas of your life. You didn’t choose. It was everything. If there was a deadline, regardless of what it was for, and you were a procrastinator, you were going to wait until the deadline to start.
What this talk made me realise was that there’s actually another way we procrastinate and that’s on the goals or dreams we have that don’t have deadlines. The things we want to achieve but can continually put off because we’re our own judge and jury. We make the goal. We set the deadline. We can move the deadline or change the goal whenever we want. Not to mention that we may be a go-getter in one aspect and a procrastinator in another. A witty, short talk that’s taught me more about procrastination in under 15 minutes, than my 30 years of experience on this topic.
It made me feel more conscious about what I’m procrastinating in now and it’s not just my studies.
I’m also more aware of the characters he’s introduced me to like the panic monster and when they make appearances in my life (I think I need them to appear more often to be honest).
If you’ve ever procrastinated about anything at all, whether it’s studying towards an exam, a work deadline or even just exercising, this talk is worth a listen. It will most likely show you that you’re a master procrastinator too, in some area of your life.