Procrastination: freedom versus adrenaline rush

The “Keith” Moment

How would you choose to procrastinate?

I have always been a sucker for productivity and self-development. Only to fall back time & again into the same procrastination practices. If you resonate with this, here’s some food for thought.

Deep diving into work
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Your delusional super-power: The “last moment” crisis management

I’m sure we’ve all heard this one, or even boasted about it in our lives-

I only studied for 2 months and got an ‘A’ in the exam.

This feel-good statement set me up for chronic procrastination issues. I knew I was struggling with self-sabotaging tendencies. But I also knew that despite this flaw, I would still get through those tough phases in life.

Ironically, it gave me the license to procrastinate even more! Because I knew I could get out of difficult situations, no matter the stress levels. For some, it may even feel like having a moment of control in their highly chaotic life.

Careful observations of those last moments leading to a deadline

Recently, I’ve started meditating again. At least twice a day now. It has helped me become more aware of my feelings and thoughts at the last moment. Whilst trying to include mindfulness practices into my daily life, I’ve started looking at procrastination from different perspectives.

I’ll help you imagine one such perspective with an analogy. If you’ve watched the movie Keith, you’ll know how Jesse McCartney puts his truck into neutral gear, only to leave the driver’s seat empty and lie down in the cargo bed of the truck. He lets the truck move to the edge of the hill before jumping out to stop the vehicle at the last moment.

The key wee seconds leading to the fall is when they decide to act. Why? Because it gives them an adrenaline rush. A sense of control.

The movie itself may have nothing to do with procrastination. But it has a lot to do with an adrenaline rush, being in control, and living on the edge.

Photo by Carlos Macías on Unsplash

Discovering my “Keith” moment

I was experimenting with the Beeminder and Focusmate integration last week. I would get charged $5 if I didn’t complete my pre-set number of study sessions. A week ago, I had my “Keith” moment. I waited till the last moment to complete my last session (15th 25-minute study Pomodoro).

I observed my thoughts and feelings from the third person’s perspective. Similar to what I did while meditating. I felt the same adrenaline rush as Keith or Natalie would’ve felt whilst sitting at the back of a truck on an auto-pilot. The clock ticking to 12 am was my edge.

What it felt like to finish early

The next day, I completed my study session by 11:30 pm (30 minutes before the deadline). For the first time, I felt like I had control of the other side- not my work, but my procrastination habits. I freely wasted my time reading manga thereafter, because I knew I had done my bare minimum for the day. There wasn’t any adrenaline rush, of course. We all know why. However, there was a sense of freedom.

But wait a minute? Didn’t we know this already? In terms of the process of self-sabotage- maybe. But in context to whether this can be a cause of procrastination- maybe not.

Conclusion

For now, I would like to live both moments. Why? Because I’ve been back and forth between deep-diving into work and going into reverse gear when I burnt out. I’m already high on adrenaline. I guess most of us master procrastinators are. Maybe this weird thrill of doing things in the last moment and still being able to get by, makes us feel that way.

But I’d also like to incorporate the simple act of finishing way before the deadline time of 12 am. It gave me a distinct sense of what having control could also feel like. I don’t know when I’ll achieve this balance. Or when the second perspective will outweigh the first one (hopefully).

But I know for certain that I don’t want to be that person who drives the truck to the edge before hitting the brakes. And I certainly don’t want to be someone who says- “I mostly function on adrenaline”

Experiment with this and let me know what you think!

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Dr. Shruti

Dr. Shruti

Junior doctor (MBBS)

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