On procrastination and productivity: unveiling the hidden tracks in the mind of a procrastinator

Few weeks ago, I came across this video from Ted Talks that finally gave a name to this feeling I very often have. So I discovered that I am part of the team: master procrastinators.

I highly recommend watching it to all of those who postpone everything until the very last minute, whatever stress or nervous breakdown that could bring about.

I think that this dangerous attitude becomes more and more prominent as we become older.

I remember that when I was in high school it was still under control and, to some extent, even during my bachelor I managed to organize myself quite well for preparing all of my exams and things to do. I was very productive. Then, something changed.

I started my master’s last September and, as time goes on, I notice an unprecedented productivity pattern in my daily activities. There are some days (or nights) when I am incredibly productive and I read and write a lot in one go, with plenty of creative ideas and smart insights. In these occasions, I write very quickly, without thinking too much before hand, for the simple reason that everything comes naturally, from my mind directly to my hands to the keyboard. The funny thing is that I rarely stop and read what I have just written. I write all in one breath, with no hesitations nor distractions. It’s a wonderful feeling and it makes me happy for the rest of the day.

The only inconvenience is that these bright productivity peaks occur once in a while and they are definitely outnumbered by long dark periods of inactivity that are often charged by a sense of guilt.

Why is that?

Most of the time, I think I am just lazy and I get more and more lazy as time goes by. Therefore, for the sake of optimizing my energies, I tend to concentrate all my efforts in one go, instead of equally dividing them over a period of time (which probably would rationally be the wisest thing to do).

Another determining factor in my procrastinator mind is that somehow unconsciously I overestimate myself and my skills. What I mean is that I am deeply convinced that I can do things more easily and quickly than I can actually do in practice. For instance, if I have to write a research proposal, some dark areas of my brain whisper to me: “C’mon! It’s so easy. If you focus, it won’t take more than one hour. Why should you bother now?”. And that’s the trick. You believe it and you automatically have an excuse (which is created by yourself”!) not to do what you’re supposed to do in that moment.

The third thing is that whenever you know you should do something, everything else suddenly becomes more interesting than that, and that’s exactly what it’s happening to me now: I am supposed to prepare for my group meeting for a uni project in one hour, but I decided I would look for jobs on Linkedin, send an e-mail to my dad, hoover my room and finally writing this blog post on procrastination. Funny isn’t it?

So the factors playing a key role in procrastination vs. productivity are:

  1. Laziness
  2. Superiority complex
  3. Everything else becomes more interesting than what you’re supposed to do

What about you? I am very curious to hear stories from other fellow procrastinators and suggestions on how to defeat this attitude. Please comment and share!

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