Procrastination; it’s such an illogical thing to do. So why do we all put off doing the things that are most important in moving us forward or just to get stuff done?
There are a heap of useful productivity tools out there to help us get our acts together, notably David Allen’s GTD (Get Things Done) techniques. Still, most of us belong to Team Mañana Mañana; especially when it comes to the big life-changing stuff.
Blogger Tim Urban’s rather wonderful TED talk introduces the concept that our rational brains are easily distracted from doing what’s actually important by our internal ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’, which will distract us with meaningless stuff (the internet is it’s main weapon) and totally derail our efforts to be productive.
Take this blog, for example. I always aim to write at least one per month, and here I am at 10.30pm on the 30th September with nothing doing. ‘Me-of the-past’ should have written the blog weeks ago, but she stupidly delegated it to ‘me-of-the-future’. The fool.
Thankfully, Urban also describes a guardian angel that he refers to as the ‘Panic Monster’, which is pretty much the only thing Instant Gratification Monkey is afraid of. It wakes up and freaks-out when deadlines get too close and the repercussions of not delivering (embarrassment, unemployment, failure, etc) become a bit too real.
So, the Panic Monster is a useful little mechanism that prevents us from living in complete chaos, but does little to overcome the monkey’s sneakiest trick: what about the things we need and want to do in life that have no deadlines? How are we making progress on our most important priorities, unfulfilled dreams, and, as yet, unused talents if there are no visible deadlines? If you want to scare yourself (in a useful way), take a look at waitbutwhy.com’s life calendar.
This month, our call to action is about taking down that pesky monkey:
- If you have a spare 14 minutes, check out Tim Urban’s TED talk; it’ll hit the venn diagram middle-ground of useful and enjoyable;
- For a more in-depth analysis of how procrastination can be so dangerous in the long-term, check out waitbutwhy.com’s procrastination matrix. Where are you spending most of your time and how is it serving you?