My absolutely perfect argument tackling procrastination
Whenever I was given a task, I kept putting it off till the very last minute. “Master Procrastinator” trophy sat in my case ever since I was a kid. I never really consciously knew that I was procrastinating or avoiding doing the task. I just didn’t want to do it. I became so lazy that I started to run from my own responsibilities.
It wasn’t until recently that I had started to think of the reasons why I’m behaving this way. It was a very exhausting process. I had to dig really deep into my mind to get answers. It took so much time and energy, but it wasn’t in vain after all.
I monitored my thoughts the instant I was given a task. (or even one that I assigned to myself.) The first thought that always bumped into my head was, “I want this task to be perfectly complete”. And THAT precisely was the problem. What is perfect? And, what is complete?
Do you know what really happens when you complete something? A feeling of complacency kicks into you, and stays there, forever.
When you complete something, when you think that you perfectly finished your task, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you only made this job live up to your very own definition of perfect. From another person’s point of view it could be a piece of crap. Or it could be beyond perfect.
People always tell us, there is no such thing as perfect. I slightly disagree with this. In attempt to refute the idea of the existence of perfection, we must account for another parameter, which is absolution.
Nothing is absolutely perfect. My perfect is completely different from yours and yours and yours, and so on. Our idea of perfect is based on our expectations (what we expect of ourselves, and what we think others expect of us). Its basis is no firm ground.
However, perfection and completion are destructive. They are only bars that keep on rising. Perfection will make you think that 80% is just as bad as 0%.
Because nothing is really perfect or complete. Even the projects we see around us; from buildings to hardware to mobile applications to cars, etc.
Have you ever heard of something that was made only once, and kept sustaining the changes in our lives as time went on?
There are always updates, bug fixes and patches, recreation, remastering, and the list goes on.
So, again, when you finish something, you will feel complacent, you will lay back and forget about it, you will never feel like upgrading it. When someone criticises your work, you will never approve of the criticism. Because you, and only you, thought it was complete. When it wasn’t.
In the beginning, I always got that feeling of satisfaction when I ‘completed’ something. But later on, when at times it occurred to me to make some changes, I kicked that thought out of my head. I kept doing this until I finally realised that this feeling of satisfaction was only an illusion. A snare created by me, that ended up catching me as well.
Now, this is why I got used to putting things off. This is what held me back. I knew that perfectly completing something is freaking exhausting, it’s impossible actually. So, why not watch 576312 episodes of my favourite TV shows before I start?
Every time I had a task to do, I feared it wouldn’t be perfect (my perfect). So I didn’t take action and instead, got anxious about how hard it is going to be, and how important it needs to be nothing less than what I expect. Because I always wanted to do it from the first shot. I never wanted it to be upgradeable or changeable. Because when something is perfect, it doesn’t require change.
Until one day,
I woke up from my bed, decided to feel a bit more confident about myself than any other day. I wanted so bad to solve this dispute between me and procrastination.
What I did was simple, and I know it is going to be very easy for everyone else reading this.
A few words that I kept repeating to myself. I even wrote them down on a sticky note and sticked it up on the wall. They are simply two sentences that complete each other.
The first one:
Every task is completed once it is merely started.
That doesn’t mean that if, for example, you had a math assignment that was due the following week, you solve the first question out of five, because according to the theory it is now complete. A big fat NO.
When you start solving it, you will either solve the first problem from one shot, or find a little bit difficulty to solve it. If you managed to solve it, you’ll automatically move on to the next question with more energy, this is what the sense of achievement does to you. If not, you’ll also move on to the next question without feeling frustrated to see if you can solve it. It’s a chain reaction, it’s like the domino effect.
But still, something is missing in that principle. So here comes the second sentence. It completes the first one by giving the example above a little bit of an extra elaboration.
Never hand over version 1.0 of your work.
Because it’s always a failure! But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. When you experience failure, you must know that you’re moving along the correct path. The first version is always going to be a piece of shit. But that’s only the first step.
If you managed to solve only the first question. Then there you go, you completed version 1.0!
When you apply these principles to (almost) everything in your life, you’ll start to experience the real taste of satisfaction and achievement. And you’ll resort to procrastination less frequently.
When you start a task, you have completed the first version of it. You should then reward yourself and feel the accomplishment.
But don’t forget, it’s version 1.0 that shouldn’t be out there to the public.
This way, you’ll always be open to criticism, because you know you still need to upgrade it. You’ll always have the energy and the courage to change what you have already done, because you know it was the first version that needs improvement. You’ll never feel bad about yourself when you discover you have made a mistake (or even fear making further mistakes), because now you know you can fix it. You’ll never lay back. You’ll never rest. You’ll keep on working on it because it shall never be complete.