The irony of my current situation is not lost on me. It’s 8pm, the night before this blog post is scheduled to go live, and I’ve just now sat down to write it. So there you have it: full disclosure that, while the trick I’ll talk about here is certainly effective, the truth is that procrastination, as a bad habit, is one tough nut to crack.
I’ve been a procrastinator all my life, and honestly, I don’t feel that it ever kept me from being happy or successful in school or at work. But what it did do, I recently realized, is put me all-too-often in a state of dread. Whether out to dinner or even on vacation, I’d find myself dreading the one big task I’d been putting off — a college paper, unpacking from a trip, laundry (the worst), an uncomfortable e-mail. If I wasn’t especially excited about it, I’d let it fester in my mind, filling me with an angst that wouldn’t go away. And you know what would happen when I finally got around to the task? I’d think to myself, “Hm, that wasn’t so bad.”
Well, a few months ago, I decided I was tired of procrastinating.
My approach was simple. All that was required was to ask myself, at any moment of indecision, what I should do in that moment. I found that 10 times out of 10, there was a right answer to that question. And to ignore that answer, was to choose to be irresponsible through procrastination.
After a few weeks of implementing my mental trick, I thought I’d share it with the team. It was working! But it seemed so strangely obvious a thought process, I almost didn’t know how to explain it. After talking it through, Camille revealed to me what was really going on in my head: instead of operating on auto-pilot, which so many of us do, I was treating every moment as a choice. By viewing my actions as decisions instead of gut-wrench reactions, I began to see that my days were filled with opportunities to do things that were good for me.
Walking through the door after work, my natural next step might normally be to crash on the couch and veg out for a while. But in my new mindset, I walk into the house, and think about what would be the best use of my time in that moment. Whether it’s a unloading the dishwasher or spending 20 minutes stretching, I’m now filling seemingly insignificant moments of my day actively doing, versus passively not-doing.
Like I said, my cure for procrastination is simple. But it’s a tiny mental shift that rewards with big consequences. Once you implement it, I think you’ll feel the power of it too, and the good thing is that it can apply to more than just time management and chores. Making dietary changes, getting to the gym, shutting down your social media apps, calling your grandma — they’re all easy enough to do when you make the choice to.
I’ve love to know what you guys think about this. Have I tapped into the secret of life here with my new lease on the power of our minds? Or are our bad habits more resilient than I’m giving them credit for?