“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
― Pablo Picasso
If you read our blog post here on the topic “I’ll Do It Later”. You would have been introduced to the definitions and dangers of procrastination i.e the “i’ll do it later” syndrome
The post also talked about how a long time of procrastination can lead you to become disillusioned and demotivated with your work.
The two helpful steps from the post on how to deal with procrastination are
The “I’ll do it later” syndrome is born from feeling negative emotions such as Anxiety, Boredom, Frustration etc. These negative emotions lead to your brain coming up with lots of excuses and reasons why you should ignore important tasks in favour of less fulfilling ones.
These negative emotions are so powerful that research has shown that it can cause “pain” in our brains!! Therefore we look for something less daunting and more pleasurable to fill out time with.
This confirms point 1 above that says you should recognise that you are procrastinating or about to procrastinate from the feelings above.
Instead of doing something that feels less daunting and more pleasurable in the short term
Research and studies has shown that Procrastination or the “i’ll do it” later syndrome is an Emotional Management Problem. – Defeating procrastination comes down to facing the negative emotions that arise from the “thoughts” of doing a task and acting regardless of how you feel.
Infact, the best way to defeat procrastination is by taking ACTION and starting the task regardless of how you feel.
Once you start – you feel less afraid and you can continue. Taking ACTION on a task even when you are stressed, anxious or overwhelmed is the most important SKILL you can master to fight the “i’ll do it later” syndrome
Since “Thoughts” and “Emotions” play a vital role in why we procrastinate let’s take a look at these two enablers or procrastination and see how much they influence our actions.
Thoughts and Emotions and the role they play in “I’ll Do it Later”
Your Thoughts and Emotions are constantly lying to you! – maybe not always but 99 percent of the time.
But here is the kicker – you are not your emotions and neither are you your thoughts.
“ For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Even the Good Book recognises this fact.
Your thoughts just “come to you” – most times you are not the author. Here is a useful experiment. Complete the following sentences
“ Every dark cloud has a __________
“ I can do all things through Christ who __________
“ Come rain, Come ________
“ Don’t Leave ________
Without any effort on your part, your thought offered the right answers. Every dark cloud has a SILVER LINING, I can do all things through Christ who STRENGTHENS ME, Come rain Come SHINE and Don’t Leave ME.
Notice how the answers just pop up? – Exactly! This is the nature of all our thoughts and emotions – They come and “poof” they’re gone.
This is the same way negative thoughts and emotions come to the surface when you are trying to do something new or challenging – something that takes you out of your “comfort zone”.
When trying to accomplish any worthwhile task, negative thoughts and emotions are bound to pop up and give you a reasons to say “I’ll Do It Later”.
Some of the negative thoughts and emotions that would come up would be
These would lead to your mind – which is a reason generating machine to offer you “escape routes”. Once we are faced with anything that is a little bit uncomfortable, our mind goes into overdrive and rationalises the sh*t out of it. It would help with lots of “valid reasons” why we should not do the task NOW. These “valid reasons” are nothing more than superficial excuses and could take one of many forms like:
Sounds familiar right? – these are the “valid reasons” I give myself to help me procrastinate.
These thoughts and emotions help us procrastinate and leave out the important tasks that should be done immediately.
When it comes to the “I’ll do it later” syndrome , it is always our THOUGHTS and EMOTIONS that get in the way! – Your MIND controls these two and feeds them constantly with “valid excuses”. Want to wake up at 5am – your mind tells you to take an extra 15 minutes which turns to 1 hour, how about that fit fam you wanted to start working out everyday for?- your mind tells you “ this life i can’t kill myself” – now your mind has won.
But the good news is – these thoughts and Emotions are not in control of you. YOU have the upper hand and can make yourself do whatever you want to regardless of how you feel.
Handling Negative Thoughts And Emotions on Procrastination
Our emotions and our thoughts can influence how we react. Most especially strong emotions. – there is a phrase for this – “Action Tendency “. When we feel angry – we have a tendency to shout or clench our fist, when we feel sad, we have a tendency to cry, walk with our shoulders slouched. Etc
The key word in the phrase is “tendency”
This means while we might have the “tendency” to act out what we are feeling at the moment – we can decide to act “otherwise”.
You can be angry and act calm, be sad and act happy( most of us do this anyway), you can be scared shitless but act courageous and brave, feel discouraged and depressed but move on nonetheless.
This means that You can ACT and do a task despite experiencing negative thoughts and emotions. You can do things NOW whether you feel like it or not.
I’d end with a quote from David Reynolds in his book constructive Living
“The mature human being goes about doing what needs to be done regardless of whether that person feels great or terrible. Knowing that you are the kind of person with that kind of self-control brings all the satisfaction and confidence you will ever need. Even on days when the satisfaction and confidence just aren’t there, you can get the job done anyway.”
PS: This was written by a fellow “I’ll Do It Later” Person fighting for change.