Why Procrastination is Killing You

Here’s what to do about it right now

Frank McKinley
Jun 12, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

Have you ever hit the snooze button when you know you should get up instead?

Have you ever put off doing stuff you need to do like your taxes because it just feels better to binge on Game of Thrones ?

If so, procrastination is creating unnecessary pain that will mess up your future.

But it doesn’t feel bad right now

Of course it doesn’t.

When I lay in bed and hit the snooze button, I reason with myself.

“If I catch a little more sleep now, I won’t feel like a zombie after lunch.”

“I’m not ready to get up yet. I just set the alarm earlier in case I was ready to face the day then.”

“The bed feels so good, I can’t leave it just yet. Give me ten more minutes, and then I’ll jump to life.”

This seems perfectly reasonable at the time, right? Why wake up groggy? Why wake up mad? A few more minutes of sleep promises to make everything better, so I buy in and snooze.

But what if I just went to bed earlier? Wouldn’t that make it easier to get up?

How the word “should” torments us

We all have things we know we ought to do.

  • Save money.
  • Read more books.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Travel the world.

And the list goes on and on.

The question we should ask, but often don’t is, “Who says I should?”

Is it other people? Your parents? Your employer? Your friends?

That’s how guilt works. It makes us feel bad because we don’t measure up to others’ expectations for us. It doesn’t account for whether or not we feel guilty about something that really matters. When guilt takes hold, it adds 100 pounds of doubt that drives us further into distractions that keep us from doing anything.

Ask yourself. Why should I do this? Who benefits?

When it hurts, you run

I can’t understand why people get tattoos.

Except for one thing.

The reward you get after sitting in that chair for hours letting someone claw you with an ink gun is (hopefully) a beautiful piece of art that stays with you forever.

I’m not into voluntary pain.

Give me a good reason for it and I’m more likely to weather the storm.

Here’s an example. Starting a business can be scary. You create a product you hope will change people’s lives, but honestly there’s no guarantee people will buy.

Fortunately, you can go through the pain of learning and experimenting so you can enjoy the pleasure of success later. A business, like many things, is a project and a process.

Your pain tolerance is what determines how successful you’ll be.

Can you knock on one more door? Can you make one more phone call? Can you send one more customized email?

Sometimes 30 sales calls can make you want to stay in bed and contemplate what it would take to live off the grid.

Why not break it down into manageable chunks?

It’s easier to make 5 sales calls. Then you can make 5 more. Do this enough and you can make 30 today.

Whatever your goal, you’ll need to decide how much discomfort you can stand at one time and plan accordingly.

If you’re really committed, stretch yourself a little more every day. If you were training for a marathon, and you’ve only run when someone is chasing you, you got a lot of work to do.

Go as far as you can the first day, even if it’s just a block.

The second day, go a block and a mailbox.

Consistent stretching is breaking in gently. Then you’ll keep reaching higher without wearing yourself out. Stamina is the key to winning against procrastination. The longer you can maintain your momentum, the more you’ll get done.

The other problem

Do you ever check your email or Facebook in the middle of the night?

I have, sometimes.

Deloitte surveyed phone users around the world. It found Americans typically check their phones 52 times a day.

How much time does 52 checks cost? App Annie says about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

That’s almost 16 hours a week.

This may shock you. It’s just a product of the age we live in. We carry distraction in our pockets so it follows us everywhere.

It gets worse.

TV has been around for many years. But now we can watch videos anywhere. How much time do we spend doing that?

Neilsen says 6 hours a day.

Wow.

No wonder we can’t get anything done.

It’s time to cut the cord

Do you know how much time you spend watching videos and checking your phone?

Your phone may tell you how much screen time you have. But it can’t record how much time you spend in front of the TV.

But you can.

Keep track for a week. Then you’ll have your own average.

What could you do if you cut your time in half? Write a book? Build a shed? Go back to school? Build a following?

The choice is yours.

Notice I didn’t say cut the cord to all media. That’s unrealistic. We all need a little entertainment and social connection. But we probably don’t need as much as we think.

What will you do?

If you’re stuck in a cycle of checking your phone every morning, do this. Set a time, like you would for an appointment. Limit yourself to enough time to do what you need to. For example, if you need to check your email. Set aside 10 minutes or so at 8 am. If you need more time, schedule it. Just don’t let email or social media run your life. You decide when and for how long.

Turn your notifications off. Is every message a matter of life or death? Or can most (if not all of them) wait? If you check your phone at 8 am, Noon, and 3 pm, is that enough? Only you will know for sure. In most cases, this is probably enough.

The problem with notifications being on is they worsen the feeling that you’re missing out. Don’t worry. You’ll get the same notifications when you sign into your apps. So why worry about getting them every 5 minutes?

Now that you’re free, what will you do with that extra one to three hours each day?

What will you accomplish that seemed (and was) impossible before?

How will you grow in ways that you haven’t until now?

What dreams can you make come true?

Maybe you can read a book or two every week. You could write two or three blog posts. And you can have more face time with your family and friends (if they’ll put their phones down, too).

Now get started.

Having time won’t cure you of slow starts.

Decide ahead of time what you want to do with your extra time. Get emotional about it. If your alarm won’t get you out of bed, excitement will.

Maybe you can use some of that time getting excited about finishing your book, going on that trip, or building a storage shed. Whatever you want to do, your drive will push you through to the end.

It will also keep the setbacks from hurting so much you give up.

Are you ready to change your life?

Now go do something that matters. And if you want, share what it is in the responses.

You’ve got this!

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Frank McKinley

Written by

Teacher. Coach. Bestselling Author. Helping writers, entrepreneurs, and change agents write the perfect blog post every time. https://skl.sh/2Xp1p8d

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

Frank McKinley

Written by

Teacher. Coach. Bestselling Author. Helping writers, entrepreneurs, and change agents write the perfect blog post every time. https://skl.sh/2Xp1p8d

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

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