The Procrastination Monster
Early-day and late-day time used to move at different speeds for me. Late-day time was dense, tight, things happened, shit got done. Early-day time was loose, laid-back, chill — there was slack to play with, room to roam.
It’s not that I wasted the mornings and early afternoons — I did worthwhile work-ish things. I’d read up on new software I might put to good use one day, or check out the latest from others in my field, or learn a new tip/trick/hack that would certainly come in handy. You know, I was getting better at stuff. I was learning stuff.
“Your most persistent distractions will seem justified to you.” - James Clear
Then at a certain point in the day (late afternoon if I was lucky or evening if I wasn’t), it occurred to me I hadn’t started The Big Important Thing. Each day has one. Today has one. You have one. Don’t worry, you’ll have time for it later. Stick with me here — this is worthwhile. I didn’t need to tell you that. You already knew. We’re not so different, you and I.
The diminishing time left in the day and the scale of the work collide at some point, and we’re forced to face reality and get to it. If we feel it has to get done today. If not, we still see time as abundant and can push The Big Important Thing off to the next day. The same scenarios play out at the weekly and monthly level, until they turn into quarters and years.
As approaching deadlines become more apparent, they get scary. We’re tied to the conveyor belt of time, pushing us into THE DEADLINE like a death contraption in an old James Bond movie, relentlessly progressing toward the buzz-saw.
It’s only in hindsight that the scary impending-doom buzz-saw turns out to be our best friend. Without it, we’d still be wallowing in the anxiety of the unfinished project and still looking up Decorating Tips & Tricks to Enhance Productivity & Get the Most Out of 2021!
“Nothing gets done without a gun to your head.” - My friend Steven
Time is linear, but our perception of it is non-linear. And since we accept perception as reality, our distorted sense of time puts us in a distorted reality. No wonder we have trouble consistently progressing over time.
We don’t rate or value (or even respect) each moment equally. We have a fixed number of minutes in life, and each minute holds the same potential or opportunity. Yet we don’t perceive it that way. And as a result, we sabotage ourselves.
I’ve gotten better at this. Much better. It can be overcome.
How? I’m glad you asked.
Plan your day ahead of time. Time block at what hour you will do each item on your agenda — don’t chose your activities in the moment, when you feel aversion to discomfort or the allure of random pleasure. Block your day in the objectivity of the evening before, when the next day is just a bunch of hours on the page, free of emotion or longing or resistance.
Know what your vulnerabilities are, what has derailed you lately. Make a Not-To-Do list alongside your To-Do list. Call your weaknesses out, identify them clearly, look ‘em in the eye and tell them you’ve met someone else.
Clearly define priorities. Know what you’re working toward, and what real progression in your life means.
Establish structure and deliberate routine to get freedom from the tyranny of your subconscious impulses.