Why do I leave everything to the last minute? Why do I get so easily distracted when working on something important? Why do I never do the things I want to do?
Because I am a procrastinator.
Hello, My Name is Ella. I am a Procrastinator
I first noticed how bad I was when I started University and was propelled into a world that called for me to plan and coordinate my own time.
Don’t get me wrong, I never missed a deadline or failed a test but I ALWAYS left things until the last minute. Even when my peers around me were eagerly working away on the next project I was sat back busying myself with unimportant and pointless tasks.
I am the Queen of spreadsheets and lists. I love them. I love to plan. Anyone who knows me would never describe me as unorganised or someone who you can’t rely on to get things done, but they are all unaware of my internal battles and how my appearance of always being busy does not mean that anything of value is being achieved.
What I have discovered since reading more about my ‘affliction’ is that procrastinators love to PLAN, we just do not DO.
I like to maintain daily and weekly to-do lists at work and home but what I now realise is that I couldn’t be more ambiguous with my tasks if I tried. I am never specific and, as such, can always find a way to ‘appear’ to have made steps to accomplishing my goal, when in fact, I have made little to no progress.
At university, I would busy myself with lists, plans, and spreadsheets. I would help others in group sessions and produce amazing revision cards –without ever taking any information in. No, in the real world, I do the same.
Thankfully my work does not suffer. I have a job that includes strict deadlines, which for me. Everything gets done on time and I am known as someone who ‘works well under pressure’ when in fact I simply do not know any different.
Where my procrastination really affects me is outside of my day job, in my personal life and in making steps towards my future goals. Basically in matters that are not ‘urgent’ and do not have a strict deadline that have consequences. This blog being one of them.
I have recently started taking this blog seriously and although I love to write my readership is not high enough that I feel much pressure to be consistent. So there is a daily struggle to prioritise time and find the stamina to start and finish a blog post. I have spent hours fussing over the look of my website, or the content of my Pinterest feed when I know what is important to me is the quality and consistency of my content.
I am working hard to try and overcome my basic instincts to waste time on irrelevant tasks, or get sucked into a YouTube vortex that is impossible to climb out of. I spend hours scrolling my twitter feed telling myself that this is all helping to further my brand, but when I am meant to be writing or researching for a blog post – it is simply procrastination.
Why Do I Procrastinate?
I was honestly hoping for a scientific, medicine curing reason for my inability to remain focused. Instead, I have come to the understanding that all of us have this in us to an extent. It is simply that some of us have become chronically affected by it over time.
I recently found an amazing selection of articles on procrastination by Tim Urban from www.waitbutwhy.com. The posts are so unbelievably accurate, in-depth, funny and relatable that I spent a good hour feeling like my mind had been blown.
His articles help to humanise or ‘monkify’ (you’ll understand when have a read) the part of your brain that causes you to stray from your task. In doing so he helps you become conscious of it, which ultimately is the first step to change.
In his third article he talks about the Procrastination Matrix (if you are a procrastinator you need to read this) and he also breaks down the different types of procrastinators there are. I am, and always have been a ‘Impostinator’.
The ‘Impostinator’ is the type of procrastinator that ‘seems’ productive by making themselves busy all the time. As I said earlier, no one at work or at home would ever question my productivity as I have always found ways to make myself seem busy, even when doing absolutely nothing.
Worse still is I have even gotten to the point where I have fooled myself into thinking that I am doing important tasks and achieving tasks. However, when I take a step back I realise I have simply busied myself with unimportant ‘urgent’ tasks, masking the fact I have made no real steps forward towards my objectives.
I want to change. I think I can, but I don’t think it will be simple. I will always be a procrastinator, it is built into my brain, and hence it will be a lifelong battle. (Granted, there are much worse battles to be facing such as poverty, mental illness, and disability so I do and will continue to count my blessings).
Can I Change?
Even writing this post has been a major achievement. This will be the first post I have ever written in one sitting. Start to Finish. Admittedly I did have a 10 minute’ Twitter feed’ break that was unintentional but I snapped myself out of it an came back to the task in hand.
The sense of achievement and lift in self-esteem is instantaneous and contagious. I want to write more. I want to keep going, but as Tim Urban notes in his article, I am aware this is short lived.
As a procrastinator I deal with the uphill struggle of completing my scheduled tasks every day. Even when I coming from a proactive high from the day before my mind seems to forget and getting up early for that run is suddenly not as important or ‘as possible’ as I thought it was yesterday.
But I am getting there. Simply changes have already made a difference such as setting much more specific and manageable goals. For me, I have also included my husband in my plans as having someone question what I have achieved each day is definitely an encouragement for me.
I will keep you posted with my progress and would love to hear if any of you have the same experience. If you do make sure you head over and read the ‘Procrastination Matrix’ by Tim Urban I mentioned earlier. It is a real eye opener and life changing read for all procrastinators.
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