I am a natural procrastinator. An extreme procrastinator may be more accurate. I’m the type that used to be furiously working away on my homework while the teacher was taking attendance. The type that viewed book deadlines as a type of extreme adrenaline sport.
This is something that I know about myself. It is not something that I am proud of and certainly a trait I wish I could do away with forever. However at a certain point we must be practical beings and learn to work with our positive and challenging personality traits.
When I was a kid I devised all sorts of elaborate strategies for getting around my natural tendency towards putting off the unpleasant. What ultimately worked for me back then was to do what I found most distasteful straight out of the gate. I would eat all of my vegetables before moving onto the mashed potatoes, or all of the healthy bits of cereal and leave the fun ones for last. If you’ve ever had a bowl of floating marshmallows from Lucky Charms you can attest to the efficacy of this technique.
Now that I am older and arguably wiser I have a much greater amount of control and choice in my daily actions. Choice can be a procrastinators worst enemy because we naturally choose to put things off anyway. The more choices we have the less likely we are to actually get work done in a timely manner. We can lock ourselves up in a jail of guilt and anticipation while we pretend we are doing something more enjoyable.
Pretending is all that it is. The truth is that when we put things off that we know we need to do we are making ourselves slaves to that task. We are taking the free will of when to do this onerous task out of our hands and putting into the hands of time. A harsher slave driver than time the world has never known.
The older I get, the more I realize the child ‘me’ had it absolutely right. The true power of doing something NOW is what frees us to enjoy everything else in life. Our minds are not pulled in two directions. We do not have this giant Sword of Damocles hovering over our head constantly reminding us that we have something that needs to be done. That distraction and stress is not fair to you, or your friends and family that want to spend time with you and not your guilt.
So go ahead and have that big bowl of marshmallows. They will taste so much better once you’ve gotten the little healthy bits out of the way first.
Grant W. Virtue