काल करे सो आज कर, आज करै सो अब | पल में परलय होयगी, बहुरी करेगा कब ||
(Finish tomorrow’s task today,
And today’s task right now.
When would you finish them,
If the world ends next moment.)
Early millennials like me grew up reading this couplet from a renowned poet Kabir Das. I was all of six when I heard it, and of course, I treated it as a course syllabus, i.e., completely forgotten when the exams were over. Fast forward thirty-plus years, and this has come to haunt me. One would think having found my calling; I’d hop, skip, and jump towards the finish line. Except I am doing everything, but that. I’d sit down to write a story, and suddenly a Netflix series would seem more attractive. I’d think about planning content for social media, and suddenly I’d find a fantastic book that I’d want to read just now. Sounds Familiar? Welcome to the world of procrastination.
Internet search defines procrastination as –
‘Trouble persuading yourself to do the things you should do or would like to do.
When you procrastinate, instead of working on important, meaningful tasks, you find yourself performing trivial activities.’
So why do we procrastinate?
1) Feeling of failure – ‘If I had attempted it, I could have done it.’ How many times we’d said this to ourselves? If I’d played, we could’ve won/ if I’d applied, I definitely would have gotten the promotion. If we ask ourselves, what is stopping us? We come up with, ‘I don’t have time.’ But have you asked yourself – ‘What is stopping you from making time?’ What is stopping you from validating the hypothesis that had you tried, you could have won? More often than not, we are afraid that if we give it our heart and soul, it might still not be enough. There is always a 50% chance of failure, but there is a 50% chance of success as well?
2) Looking for perfection – ‘I just am not in the right mind space to do this.’ Most likely, you’re a perfectionist or perceive yourself as one. You need to produce an output that meets all your standards. But then you are also familiar with the frustrations and stress such tasks entail and hence the tendency of the mind to gravitate towards something relaxing.
3) Not interesting enough – ‘Erm, I am made for greatness.’ The sense of accomplishment from achieving a big goal or performing a gruelling task is what makes us thrive. I am a creator; I am happiest when I write or coach—running a business/selling the book? Not so much. However, everything has a process; you need to take those steps to get to the answer because those tiny unwanted steps get you closer to your Goal. I need to market myself as an author for people to realise that I am one.
4) Need for instant gratification – ‘You only live once!’ This is a mantra, common amongst us, we need constant gratification/pleasures, but sometimes we seek them in lieu of achieving our goals. Some of us, or most of us would have at some point or the other thought about losing weight, the first week is always easy, new motivation, multiple plans of things to do with the ‘new you.’ But then slowly, the shine fades, and the pleasures of food and night outs seem lucrative. The next day you feel listless and guilty. To ease yourself, you seek short term pleasure, and so the cycle continues. We know ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,’ but what do all play and no work makes Jack?
5) Technical know-how – ‘ I am in charge of doing this, but have no idea.’ Sometimes you get roped into doing things which you haven’t thought through. Or you’ve set a deadline which is way off the actual time required. In moments like this, procrastinating is a way to avoid the problem, hoping it would go away gently. But the more we delay, the lesser time we get to ask for help to sort it out.
However, procrastination is not being lazy; it just lacks the will to get the task done, and more often than not, a simple tweak in your routine or change of mindset can make it easy for you. Do not procrastinate in no way means do not take breaks or relax. You need your daily dose of stress-free time for you to be able to function.
Whatever be the reason, more often than not, procrastination is a hindrance towards achieving your Goal. If you’ve set yourself a goal/task and are sure, it is something that needs to get done, JUST DO IT!