In February 2016, Tim Urban did a TED Talk about procrastination called, “Inside the mind of a master procrastination.” Coincidentally, I was perusing the internet instead of writing this piece about procrastination.
As if by fate, I came across this TED Talk.
What is procrastination?
Before I started the video, I decided to do some research — this couldn’t have been a better way to spend my day instead of cleaning my house. I wanted to create my perspective on procrastination before I took on the ideas of Urban.
Procrastination, by definition, is the action of delaying or postponing something. Everyone is familiar with this and it would surprise me if I met someone who has never procrastinated in their life.
According to Psychology Today, procrastinators chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately seek distractions. This is very true in a sense, however, I wouldn’t say that I deliberately go to Netflix to start a new series when I have a huge project due. The article also talks about how perfectionists are often procrastinators. I agree with this statement completely. If my work is not perfect, then I generally tend to be distracted by something else for “inspiration.”
(As I am writing this, I went on YouTube to begin watching the TED Talk, but then found myself watching videos on how to be good at taking selfies.)
Okay, I’m back.
Another fact that I came across is something called temporal motivation theory. This theory is an integrative motivational theory, meaning that it measures time as a critical motivational factor. Basically, if you’re not motivated to get the work done, you’re going to find yourself doing something else until you literally have a flame on your ass motivating you to get the work done.
The Panic Monster
In this hilarious TED Talk, Urban talks about being in university writing his 90-page thesis in 72 hours and explaining what goes on in the heads of procrastinators.
He goes on to talk about how the brain of a proven non-procrastinator versus a procrastinator that has a monkey – the instant gratification monkey – living in its brain. The monkey is easy and fun, whereas the rational decision-maker, gives us the ability to make decisions rationally. It allows us to visualize and make plans for the future.
The rational decision maker will plan and prepare for whatever needs to be completed in a timely matter so that you’re not stressed about any upcoming deadlines. It’s also there to make us realize what makes sense to do right now. But, when the monkey appears, it takes over and takes you away from your responsibilities for more fun tasks, which results in a conflict. This conflict eventually leads us to what Urban describes as the ‘panic monster.’
Who is the panic monster? The panic monster is always there in the most desperate of times, times when deadlines come a little closer to home. That is when we start to panic as procrastinators. The monkey is terrified of the panic monster. While the panic monster is awake, Urban says he’s able to work through everything in a crazy timeline that should have been finished weeks ago.
Procrastination Then Vs. Now
If you didn’t know already, I’m notorious for leaving things to the last second. Whether it’s for my podcast or work, I tend to leave things with the tightest deadline ever. It’s something I got used to when I was going through my university studies, and have never broken the habit, until now.
Procrastination got the best of me. It caught up to me to the point where I was stressed to the max and needed help. I was introduced to time management and the best practices to use for myself.
When I have deadlines, I book time off with myself. So, this means I schedule an hour or two with myself, where I have to complete the task assigned. The first few times that I did this were unsuccessful. There was never a gameplan for the things I wanted to get done, and that’s okay. Eventually, I was able to find a groove that worked for me.
Will I ever stop procrastinating? Probably not. Though, I will continue to work towards completing tasks in a timely matter, especially for projects such as this blog. As cliche, as it sounds, being a procrastinator, is apart of who I am.
Yes, I will have stressful breakdowns when I’m overwhelmed, but I think the thrill of tight deadlines will continue to drive my creativity as I continue through my career as a content creator and marketer. We’ll have to see what happens.