Why A Perfect Planner Won’t Cure Procrastination — And What Will

With great excitement, you purchase a brand new, fancy planner, which supposedly works miracles. Theoretically, with this “perfect” planner, you should finally curb your procrastination habit and become the productive person you aspire to be.

Determined to take full advantage of this planner, you buy highlighters in various colors to color-code your activities. That way, you can see, at a glance, which activities you should be working on at any given moment. Green is for meetings and appointments, yellow for planning sessions, purple for the big project you’re working on, etc.

You plan weeks, even months, in advance. Proud of yourself, you’re starting to feel as if you’ve already put the nail in the coffin of procrastination.

Come Monday 9 am, you open your planner and see a big purple box from 9 am -12 pm, which means you should be working on your big project.

This is when things get “complicated”.

You see that big, fat purple rectangle and you remember how hard and demanding the project is. Instead of tackling it head on, you say to yourself, “Let me go get another cup of coffee first. This will energize me.” Mistake number 1.

When you have your cup of coffee, you begin to fix your desk — after all, you’re more productive when you work in a clean environment. Mistake number 2.

Then, you remember that you should be receiving an important email from your boss. You open your inbox only to be greeted by a disorganized stream of emails. How did you let your inbox get so out of control? You decide that you must remedy this immediately. You begin to organize your in-box — even though you have already scheduled time for clean up activities later in the week (Why not get a head start?). Mistake number 3.

Now, after all this “work”, you need a break…

You toss paper around a little more, and before you know it, it’s 12 pm, and you’ve done no work on your big project; you’ve procrastinated the whole time.

And just like before, when you were about to get to work, procrastination showed up and, with it’s sharp and dirty claws, grabbed you by the neck, and said “Hold on a minute! Where do you think you’re going…”

Procrastination isn’t a planning problem. When you procrastinate, it’s not that you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing — in fact, you do know. It’s that you refuse to do it.

Band-aids are an important component of a first-aid kit, but if your nose is pouring blood, a band-aid isn’t what you need. Planning is important, but it alone won’t cure procrastination.

Preparing a nice, fancy schedule doesn’t mean you’ll follow it.

To overcome procrastination, you must attack it at the core.

At the core, the cure to procrastination is simple. It’s “Action”: it’s doing what you must when you must. But “simple” doesn’t mean “easy”; getting yourself to take action at the right time can be quite a feat. That’s where taking a small step forward can really help; when you take even a baby step forward, you leave the “land” of procrastination and enter the “land” of action.

And what determines which “land” you inhabit is simple: decision.

Procrastination or Action, the choice is yours.

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