The Life That Was Never Postponed

I used to have a constant desire to postpone everything for a later time. Everything that had to do with my affairs, tasks, decision-making, etc., and had to be done immediately was postponed for some other time. Besides, why should I do something right now if this could be done tomorrow? In fact, the more unpleasant the task, the longer it was postponed, and instead, I invented more ways to occupy myself, including enumerating what to do.


In psychology, procrastination is also defined as a rather serious deviation from the norm, when a person puts off almost everything for a future time, including rather “innocent” things, from dressing and brushing their teeth to eating. Such procrastination is associated with psychological issues, but those cases that have taken the form of a serious illness deserve attention. However, at some point, putting off unpleasant things for later is common for all of us. Right?


As a result of constantly postponing and failing to meet certain work norms, one of the most unpleasant aspects of procrastination I experienced was feeling unsatisfied with myself.


Moreover, I suffered chronic guilt, constant stress, and the like. Things that were postponed almost to the deadline were handled in a hurry, and as a result, they couldn’t be completed in the best possible way, which, again, caused me dissatisfaction and even more headaches.


As psychologists say,


If you lack the willpower to break a bad habit (and in a weak state, procrastination may be mistaken for a bad habit), use it in your favor.


In general, this can be formulated as follows:


Considering the fact that you constantly put things off to the last minute, you should find a way to plan your time so that no one (including yourself) suffers as a result.


To get rid of (or deal with) procrastination I had to follow a two-step procedure:


My first step was to recognize procrastination myself, but make it work for me; it was a kind of self-deception

My second step was to be honest with myself because I needed to eradicate the habit of putting things off until later.

To fulfill the first step, I had to implement the so-called “to-do lists”.


Photo by LiliGraphie from Adobe Stock

To make the procrastination habit work for me, I made a list of what I needed to do as detailed as possible. I then considered what I would like to do the least. Could this be postponed? In most cases it was yes — after all, I would have postponed it anyway. So instead of doing the most unpleasant task, I preferred to do the second or third in a row that was a lot less unpleasant. In any case,


It’s far better to do something useful than nothing at all or doing something that is completely useless.


It wasn’t so harsh! With a little practice, putting off something that was most unpleasant, I learned to do everything on time. After all, I knew that by doing what I didn’t really like “now”, I would still put off what I liked even less.


The second step was more rational. It was more efficient, but it would require more effort from me. In this case, we are discussing the following principle:


“To get rid of procrastination, get rid of the cause of its occurrence”.


For example, if you are worried that you will not be able to handle something, think about who you can turn to for assistance, and if you are bored, think of a reward for doing a good job.


I committed to being honest with myself. It was mostly about finding the real reason why I didn’t want to do something. Oh man, it wasn’t always easy, especially when it came to fear of failure. A similar level of honesty would be required to find the motivator that would work best for me. And believe me, asking for help from many takes a lot of guts!


During my research then, I discovered the most common causes of procrastination and managed to level them. I didn’t take into account cases of clinical procrastination, as well as cases related to general dissatisfaction with life or profession. Why? Because regarding the first one, I believe that this is a matter for specialists; regarding the second one, the process of changing jobs or a radical change in lifestyle, as a rule, is postponed for an even longer period than household or work affairs since such decisive steps cannot but frighten for the unknown.


Of course, everyone has their own reasons for the occurrence of procrastination, but all of them can also highlight something in common. I’ll turn to those problems and questions that are encountered most often.


— The lack of personal motivation

No matter how good you are at planning, the pressure never goes away. So I don’t fight it. I feed off it. I turn pressure into motivation to do my best.

— Ben Carson


Willpower! Oh man, this is a divine word! To me, it was an unknown word… Not everyone has the willpower to sit down and do something that is not interesting. I used to be one of those people who need a “light”, enthusiasm for accomplishments. I had to look for ways to get motivated.


When I put some puny or uninspiring goals, I tended to feel lethargic and unmotivated to achieve them. On the flip side, when I put huge and ambitious goals, I used to feel empowered and invigorated to take action towards achieving them. So, I set massive goals and took massive action.


I also found it was more effective if I first did something pleasant for myself, improve my mood, and then do all the unpleasant things. Moreover, I pushed myself to my outermost limits. I found that the more action I took, the more motivated I became to continue doing even more.


— The fear of failure

For me, procrastination became an unconscious way of escaping things that in the past ended in failure or led to something that I would prefer not to repeat. Postponing such activities seems quite logical, but it’s obvious that I still had to complete all necessary tasks.


What was most critical in this case was to figure out what the failure was about and why it upset me so much. Also, I had to figure out how to avoid it in the future. For example, if a work project failed because I missed or hadn’t completed something, I probably already knew it by then. Thus, I began thinking about or asking colleagues what else I could do before starting a new assignment.


In the same group of reasons for the occurrence of procrastination, we have the fear of not being able to deal with the case at all, or not showing up.


Fear had big eyes for me. I was afraid of getting started because I didn’t know whether I would succeed. But taking one step at a time I realized that it worked; in fact, it worked very well. And the times it didn’t, I asked for help without being embarrassed at all.


There are many problems that can arise when you do everything in a hurry. The longer you put something off, the better chance you’ll finish it in a rush. Nobody likes being scolded, and some people react painfully to criticism (especially the non-constructive ones). It took me some time to understand that it wouldn’t be possible to avoid criticism from my superiors in any case, so, at least I was trying to soften the blow. After all, criticism didn’t always have to do with me (keep in mind that bosses are people too, with their own mental disorders).


For example, rather than communicating face-to-face at all times, I needed to switch to email communication instead. However, in any case, I avoided giving my boss another reason to criticize my work as much as I could.


— Reluctance for what needs to be done

For a couple of years, I worked in the sales department of a large bookstore. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my job. But I also wasn’t really excited about it. So, there were times I disliked the tasks I had to fulfill. But I had one major problem; I hadn’t the courage to take radical steps (changing my job for example). Instead, I was trying to find some pleasant moments, even if they seemed to be zero-valued. I was trying to find those trifles that I loved. I focused on them and then I was getting down to business.


— The pressure of proof, and the lack of choice or freedom

We all know that most people, even in everyday affairs, dislike being “forced” by others. Even the phrase “You should brush your teeth twice a day” unsettles them. Such behaviors usually have the opposite effect, as they force people to prove to everyone that “I can do that no matter what”. That’s true, and then you have to do what you need to do as soon as possible. However, you cannot be sure that you will get the best results. Thus, there is a chance that the next thing that you want to postpone will be related to the fear of failure.


In order to get rid of this problem, I had to prove to myself that I was the one who had made the decision. As a result, I became accustomed to not saying “I need”, “I must”, but “I want”, “I would like”. It also helped me to get rid of feelings of guilt or anxiety if I didn’t have time to do something.


Going back in time, I remember myself planning to complete a task by a specific date, but getting upset if it hadn’t been completed by the evening of that day. That was so pathetic!


So I wasn’t saying “I need to do this project by Monday”, but “I would like to do this project by Monday”.


— Using procrastination as a way to spur me on

I used to find it easier to work just when I was literally pressed by the time frame, and while the project was still far from being delivered, I simply couldn’t bring myself to take on the job. Many people act in a similar way.


It may take too much time to remake this character trait, and it’s not for sure that after that you will start doing the work effectively. I suppose it happens because our body is designed in such a way that it’s easier for it to strain once for a short period of time than to be “activated” several times for a longer period of time.


To solve this problem, I had to train myself to leave enough time for a certain compromise: to find a time at which I already felt the pressure of the “X hour”, but at which my job’s quality performance would be acceptable.


— The fear of big assignments

This fear was the biggest of all! I was afraid of not being able to complete a big task. In fact, I was so afraid that I simply didn’t want to even start it at all. In such a case, I used to break a big task into many smaller ones and deal with them sequentially. I kept remembering that


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