Procrastination:Turning “one of these days” to “none of these days”

Procrastination is defined as avoidance of an important task for more pleasurable activities.It is something that most of us deal with .In fact , it is believed that each and every person is a procrastinator.That stands mostly true because all of us have procrastinated in some or the other situations of our lives. Be it a an assignment completion, project submission or starting or ending a relationship,procrastination can exist in any situation.But the major problem lies within the fact that this is not an external problem. This is something that generates within us and if not countered or brought under control at the right time,it could lead to career disasters, broken and bitter relationships or even worse,life long self loathing and guilt.

Now, let’s look at the insides of procrastinator’s mind.

I recently watched a Ted talk by Tim Urban on this and it could not be put in a better way.According to Tim, imagine your mind has two characters inside it: The Rational decision maker and The Gratification monkey.Suppose you have an assignment to finish. The rational decision maker tells you to start the assignment . You do the same. But within a few minutes of the assignment work, the gratification monkey speaks up. He asks you to get a glass of water, maybe eat a snack as well. Whats the harm, right? While you’re eating, why not watch some tv show for a while, may be the next episode as well and this goes on and on until you realise it’s late in the night and you have wasted your precious four hours just watching TV.

Now there is another secret character which is born at this time. It’s The Panic monster.And guess what? The gratification monkey is too damn scared of the panic monster .It lets the rational decision maker take the central space again and eventually you get back to work. Basically, the main point is that the panic monster is born only when deadlines approach.This is the regulating character in our little play.But what about the people who have no deadlines? Like artists who have a design in mind but are unable to start, or entrepreneurs who want to set up their own company?Well, lets find out.

A research program conducted in a University had two groups of three students each write papers on Microbiology. One group had a deadline while the others could take their own time. After a week when the reports were checked, the ones with the deadline were halfway through and the ones without , had not even started.

Studies show there are two types of procrastinators: Ones with deadlines and Ones without deadlines. The second category is the one where the panic monster arrives at a later stage and is as huge which even scares away the rational decision maker. What I mean to say is, people who don’t work for anybody else but plan on starting things on their own, for e.g.: their own company, are without the regulation of deadlines and become unhappy and lead a life of mayhem when they procrastinate for long .

There are rare cases when people have a healthy relationship with deadlines and perform better under pressure.But the odds of that happening are less.

Now that we have talked about how a procrastinator’s brain functions, lets mull upon the ways to bring this monkey under control.

The biggest problem anybody faces is how and where they should begin.Fear not, there are a few ways to do that.

1)Trick your brain:Think of yourself as someone else hard into work.If you don’t do it today, you will face numerous consequences.Remember,95% of times our subconscious mind works.

2)Eat the elephant:Break the problem into small pieces. Look at each piece one at a time.Work on things, one at a time.

3)Kill the goblins first and then go for the dragon:Start with the part that’s more appealing and interesting.Studies show that when we involve ourselves into something interesting, the brain releases Dopamine which increases our productivity.

4)Ignore the sirens:Steve Jobs had all his office walls painted white because he didn’t want a single distraction.Andre Agassi doesn’t like it when anybody touches his Tennis kit because he can’t concentrate with any sort of disorder in his bag.Most focussed people remove all the mayhem and distraction around them, be it the that messy desk or sloppiness in their rooms.

Procrastination is a disease that can be treated only by the patient himself.Its a load that can be taken off only by the bearer.So, don’t procrastinate and remember the best way to get things done is to begin.