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Undoing procrastination

 

I was the king of procrastination

Procrastination was a major problem for me much of my life: doing household chores when I was a kid, homework, trying to find a girlfriend, backing up my computer regularly, paying off my credit card debt, personal accounting, getting that report to the boss, exercise, eating well, losing weight, getting to bed on time. The only thing I never procrastinated on was eating.

 

The solution

Those were the days (not so happy ones). No more. I have found a permanent solution to procrastination. For myself and for you.

 

What are the costs and what are the benefits of procrastination?

 

The costs of procrastination

Let’s look at the costs first (these may vary depending on your situation).

 

  1. You end up not having enough time to do a good job on (or even completing) the task that you’re delaying on.

  2. It’s more difficult to enjoy the process of doing the task when you finally get around to it, often adding to your anxiety, stress, guilt, and even shame.

  3. You may incur financial costs by delaying the task (like extra interest on the credit card when you delay paying them off, paying a higher price for an airline ticket, not getting that tax refund earlier, or the huge amount of money lost because you delayed on savings and investments).

  4. Your physical health will suffer from delaying healthy activities, like regular exercise and eating healthfully.

  5. Your mental/emotional health will suffer because you delay/avoid looking at internal conflicts that continue to plague you.

  6. You may even die (because you delayed putting on that seatbelt or getting that breast lump checked out quickly).

  7. You may damage your reputation and relationship with others because of the consequences of your delay.

  8. You may damage your relationship with others (for example a spouse) because you’re delaying an important conversation with them.

  9. You damage your image and relationship with yourself (your self-esteem and self-confidence), reinforcing your belief that you cannot rely on yourself to follow your plans or keep promises to yourself.

  10. You increase both your general and specific fears as each act of procrastination consolidates your awareness of your unreliability with yourself.

  11. You worry about the task you’re delaying on and that might even affect the quality of your sleep.

  12. You find it more difficult to provide full focus and get enjoyment from doing anything else when you know that you’re procrastinating.

  13. You’re reluctant in the future to make a promise or plan for anything you know that you might procrastinate on.

 

CBS news quotes a study that put the financial cost procrastination to U.S. business (from just one type of procrastination: employees allowing unnecessary interruptions) at $650 billion per year.

 

The benefits of procrastination

Given all the costs that procrastination incurs, why would you or anyone ever procrastinate!?  Because we get benefits...we get strong, immediate rewards by delaying the tasks in question.

 

  1. The process of doing the task does not occur to you as pleasant or enjoyable, especially in comparison with other things you get to do by delaying the task. (“I just don’t feel like exercising right now; I’ll watch some TV.”)

  2. You anticipate that the task will stimulate fear that you don’t want to feel (doing those taxes or making that request stimulate anxiety). You get to delay feeling that fear.

  3. Other things occur as more urgent (more immediately fear reducing) than the task (“My boss expects this done by the end of the day; I don’t have time to meditate as I planned.”)

  4. Procrastination can occur to you as a declaration of autonomy and freedom (“I’m not going to be hemmed in and dominated by anyone, including myself!”)

  5. Procrastination can occur as the only way that you’re going to be able to find time to “just enjoy now.”

  6. Procrastination can occur as something you have to do in order to not procrastinate on something even more important.

  7. Procrastination is a habit that’s become comfortable, regardless of the costs; this is especially true for when we procrastinate on small items (“I’ll file that piece of paper later.”)

  8. Procrastination can (sometimes) mean that it is appropriate to delay an action until more information is gotten or a clearer direction is created. This is not true procrastination...it is an appropriate action to delay a decision.


 

Don't procrastinate on ending procrastination

You don’t have to continue to incur the cost of procrastination. I have identified all the root causes of procrastination and how to extirpate those forever.

 

Don’t procrastinate (LOL) on staying with me here and you’ll soon (eagerly) be able to say goodbye to procrastination.

 

Removing the cornerstones that support procrastination

The “house of procrastination” is supported by several cornerstones. Once these cornerstones are removed, procrastination disappears. That’s why I call the process of removing these cornerstones “undoing procrastination.”


 

Also removing the co-conspirators of procrastination

Interestingly and luckily, removing these cornerstones also un-does (disappears) several other problems that many of us are plagued with:

  • Lack of persistence (giving up)

    • ​​...examples: losing weight or regular exercise

  • Impatience

    • ...examples: waiting to be finished with ironing the clothes so you can go do something else more interesting or thinking something shouldn’t be taking as long as it is

  • Perfectionism

    • ...example: feeling that you haven’t done a good enough job on studying for the test

  • Worry

    • ...examples: “do they really like me?” or “maybe my lover is thinking about someone else”

  • Feeling that life is meaningless

    • ...example: “so what if I don't wash the dishes...I’ll have to do them again tomorrow”

  • Boredom

    • ...example: “my job is boring most of the time”

  • Indecisiveness

    • ...examples: “should I leave the party now or stay a bit longer?” or “should I stay in my current job or look for a new one?”

  • Breaking promises to others or to yourself

    • ...examples: “I know I said I would help my friend with the moving, but I really don’t feel like it” or “I know I said I would exercise today, but it doesn’t feel comfortable”

Nine for the price of one

Even though we’re learning here how to end your procrastination, you’re going to get much more than that. In the process of removing the cornerstones that support the house of procrastination, you’ll also know how to resolve any of the above issues, because all of these live in the same house. When you remove the cornerstones, it removes the house.

 

Bring your skepticism (but not your cynicism) to the table

I know this may occur as a preposterous assertion. But, even if it weren’t true, ending your procrastination would be invaluable anyway, right? So...stay with me...be the devil’s advocate...I think you’ll find that I know what I am talking about.

 

Finding the true cornerstones is key

Many other thinkers have proposed ways to end procrastination. Several of these ideas have merit. What distinguishes my approach is that it goes to the cornerstones that support the house of procrastination...not to just trying to remove part of the house without knocking out the supporting cornerstones.

 

A comprehensive approach (step by step)

Often, removing just one cornerstone is enough to resolve a particular instance of procrastination. My approach is comprehensive. As such, it will resolve any issue of procrastination. I’ll show you how to remove the most important cornerstone first (the one, when removed, resolves most instances of procrastination)...this way you can get started right away on creating your new life of no procrastination.

 

Removing the cornerstone that is responsible for most procrastination

The most common cause of procrastination is that doing the task at hand does not occur as enjoyable or interesting, especially in comparison to other things that you’d rather do. If you can find a way to like or love the process, then the procrastination disappears.

Noticing how nature does it

Let’s learn from nature. Few of us have “a procrastination problem” with eating. In general, each one of us eats about a thousands meals a year, with roughly 500 hours of eating time. We been doing this for years. How are we able to persist in eating so regularly!?

Stronger and much more reliable than commitment and willpower

 

In our design, nature (or God) decided, “We’re not going to leave eating to commitment or willpower. We’re going to make eating so enjoyable, that, assuming that food can be made available, people are always going to eat.” Taking a page from nature’s approach, if we think some future result is important (like nature thought staying alive was), then let’s find a way to enjoy the process. This way it’s very easy to avoid procrastination and to maintain persistence.

Here’s how I stopped procrastinating on exercise ➩

The second cornerstone that supports procrastination

Enjoying the process is just one (a very important one) of the many ways to end procrastination. The second most common reason (that is, a supporting cornerstone) for procrastination is resisted fear. We could consider this as a certain type of “not enjoying the process.” But this cornerstone deserves separate treatment.

 

Resisted fear often equals procrastination

You’re frightened of how you boss might react, so you procrastinate on asking for a raise. You’re scared that you might regret making the wrong decision, so you delay on making an important choice. You’re nervous about approaching a stranger at a party, so you kept bouncing the idea back and forth in your mind.

 

How I got energy and confidence to ask a woman for her telephone number ➩

 

Knocking out any and all cornerstones that support the house of procrastination

Not enjoying the process and resisted fear are the two most common reasons for procrastination. Most fundamentally, however, every factor that supports procrastination is a lack on NNI (Now-Next Integrity). Consequently, you can remove any instance of procrastination by using one or more of the approaches detailed in the NNI Toolkit, which contains a full set of methods for creating and maintaining NNI.