I am prone to procrastination. If I don’t feel like doing something, I get a bloody big urge to put it off, move it into the future that may or may never come. The world could end at any moment, if I clean the dishes now and the world ends just after now, I’m going to be pretty bleak. Any excuse to put off the inevitable. I am, however, under no illusion that this is a good thing. Quite the opposite in fact, it plagues me.
Over the last couple of years I have been trying to develop a systematic process to defeat procrastination once and for all. And my golly, I believe I have it. Action. “Oh that’s obvious!”, I hear you say? Well yes. It is. Painfully obvious, in fact. But what isn’t so obvious is the implementation of this near perfect solution. How does one convince the mind that acting now is better than putting it all off? For me, it’s creating a game around it. I decided that the only task, or challenge that I ever had to contend with was acting upon a thought, task or idea as soon as it entered my head. Depending on what it was of course, if I had not screened it at all I would probably be trying to sell sanitary pads as “Men’s Armpit Patch Stopper”.
Enter the “3 second rule”. Three seconds is just long enough to ask yourself if doing what ever you have just thought of will kill you, land you on the side of the street selling armpit sanitary pads or get you arrested. But not enough time to think of reasons to not do it or start doing something and/or work up a fear around it. Making decisions in this small amount of time also assists you in using intuition a little more clearly. Intuitive moves are usually the first thing that pop into your mind.
So I began tackling the task of doing things as soon as I thought of them, with some interesting results. I found that most of the time, whatever I had to do was not as bad as I had initially imagined. Whether it was washing dishes, cleaning my place, phoning that potential lead or going for a jog – it was just never quite as bad. I figure there are two reasons for this.
1. Focusing on “immediate action” as the only real task, meant that once you started doing whatever it was you were meant to do, the task of action was already complete.
2. The mind is a master at justification. It will turn any little task into a trek to Mordor just to convince you to get out of it. Funny enough, that works to our advantage because once we begin doing whatever we were meant to do, it is never as bad as you imagine, so you don’t mind finishing it.
Then there are umteen benefits post doing whatever it is you were meant to. When you get back to tomfoolery, you can dedicate your entire mind to it with out having this looming “undone” list over our head. There is also a sense of achievement. You have done something. And that always feels great. Not to mention, if it is acting upon an idea for example, the idea is still fresh and full of excitement.
My life has improved dramatically since deciding to do things, rather than just talking about them. It has given me countless memories, countless friends and a great tan.