July 5, 2018

Why do I Procrastinate?

I haven't written a blog post for 5 days now. I've found myself procrastinating. A lot. Instead of wrting my blog, I'll look at facebook, or read blogs about sailing.

Same goes for working on personal development side projects (such as my ideal developer toolkit). I could definitely find an hour a day to try and add features but I always find excuses to do something else.

And, the same thing for studying Korean. I do manage to study at least 30 minutes a day, but I could be studying so much more. Why don't I?

What exactly is procrastination? Why do I procrastinate the tasks that I know would make me the happiest?

Here's an great article that sheds some light: https://jamesclear.com/procrastination.

In the article, James explains that procrastination is a lack of self control.

What, then, is self control? I think Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle does a great job of explaining self control. My take away from his book is that the "Human" part of me (the artistic, thoughtful, beautiful part) is in battle with the lesser animal part (the part that responds by instincts). Self control is when the Human part overcomes the lower, animalistic automatic responses.

Turning back to James Clear's article: He claims that the reason we procrastinate is because there is a disconnect between our present self and future self. Our present self likes instant gratification. In order to reach the goals set for our Future Self, our Present Self needs to take action instead of giving into instant gratification.

This sounds a lot like the "Resistence" described in The War of Art!

How do we get our Present Self to take action? How do we stop procrastinating? James provides a few excellent suggestions. I'd like to tweak his suggestions slightly and propose the following definitions:

  • Procrastination is the lack of self control
  • Self control is the act of using your better judgment rather than giving into instant gratification
  • Instant gratification wins when the long term rewards or long term pain are not immediate.
  • Better Judgment wins when your present self can easily see the long term rewards or see the long term pain of not following thru.

I think most advice about fighting procrastination can be traced back to these 4 definitions.

Tomorrow, I plan to explore some concrete suggestions using these definitions as a foundation to fight procrastination.

Tags: mindset limiting beliefs personal development