I bet you’re procrastinating right now.
If not, congratulations on mastering the art (or sorcery) of time management. If yes, welcome to club and I hope you enjoy a not-so-prolonged stay. While you’re here, please be cautious of the following lies that your procrastinating brain will tell you:
Lie #1: The task is too difficult.
Aside from sheer boredom, among the reasons we procrastinate is fear of failure. We fear that we will not perform to our standards. We overthink, overcomplicate, and find excuses why it cannot be done. By avoiding the task, we try to avoid feelings of shame and incompetence. This can worsen once we finally need to face the task at hand. When working at the last minute, we do not have the luxury of breaking down the work into small, manageable steps. We just tackle the beast head-first, making it seem more intimidating than it really is.
Lie #2: We have no time.
We don’t have time; we make time. We have the same 24 hours in the day as Oprah, Michelle Obama, or whoever else you look up to. It’s all about how we prioritize different activities that demand our attention. When we say we don’t have time, we’re really saying that it’s not a priority. There are other things we’d rather invest in.
Lie #3: We have plenty of time.
Every now and then, we are blessed with days where we can stop to smell the roses and take life at a leisurely pace. We sleep in, lounge around at home, and take a well-deserved break from our hectic schedules. Next thing we know, we’ve scrolled ten miles through Facebook memes and re-watched Friends for the fifth time. Reality hits as you realize how much work is left in such little time.
Lie #4: We work better under pressure.
Do we really? Or do we only work once there’s pressure? Working at the last minute creates a sense of urgency (or to put it more honestly, fear of an incoming deadline) that pushes us to act. This leads us to believe that we function better under stress.
While there may be a lucky few who truly thrive under pressure, working in such environments create unnecessary stress. Our mental resources are better devoted to improving the task at hand. Caught in the rush and adrenaline, we could easily make errors and miss small details. The quality of our work, as well as our well-being, can suffer.
Lie #5: We need to wait for motivation.
Motivation is a fickle thing that leaves as soon as it arrives. It implies that we need to wait for a certain mental or emotional state to accomplish a task. We all love it because it feels energizing. It arrives on its own without us chasing after it.
Rather than waiting for motivation, it is more productive to practice discipline. It is based on consistent habits rather than a momentary feeling. Discipline is not wanting to do something, but forcing yourself to do it anyway. The trick isn’t to wait for motivation; it’s to learn how to function without it.
But there’s no trick to achieving discipline. Just do it.