I am guilty of doing it and you, dear reader, are probably guilty of it too.
When I write the word procrastination, my memory flashes back to binge-watching hours of movies on Netflix, scrolling on Instagram for hours, and engaging in other distractions. To feel better about delaying important tasks, I will attempt to productively procrastinate - clean the apartment, create LONG to-do lists, clear my email. Essentially my productive procrastination looked a lot like "quadrant 3" activities.
During university, I would procrastinate often. Despite having MONTHS of notice in advance, I spent countless nights on-campus knocking out essays with classmates. We brought snacks, dressed in sweatpants, and left with bags under our eyes. After every session I would tell myself, "never again", but lo and behold the following semester I found myself cramming in last-minute information for exams or furiously typing an assignment. I started figuring out my shit when I got into project-based work. Stuff that required planning in advance.
When I planned the steps in advance, I was more likely to pace myself and execute each step in a more timely manner rather than just doing it all at once.
Then I saw this video:
The corresponding article, from Austrailian Men's Health, had me reflecting on how procrastination affects me.
2 Pituitary Gland
Better known as the gland that makes you grow, the pituitary sends out messenger hormones, known as ACTH and TTH, to marshal the rest of your stress response. At the same time, a hormone called vasopressin tells your body to hoard water and increase blood volume.
5 Immune System
Since your body doesn’t know if it’s facing a lion or lymphoma, infection-fighting white blood cells begin circulating, along with a commensurate amount of cortisol to keep their numbers in check. But your delaying ways may leave you resistant to cortisol, allowing rampaging white blood cells to cause damaging inflammation.
6 Visceral Fat
Your adrenal glands require extra energy to keep pumping out stress hormones, so your body creates a reserve by packing fat around nearby organs. These stores of visceral fat will soon start to release even more inflammatory molecules. Next up: a heart attack by way of insulin resistance and elevated LDL cholesterol.
Of course I had to do more internet digging and found this article from mnn.com stating, "A revealing 2000 study found that procrastinators only tend to put off what needs doing when a task is framed in a way that indicates the results matter. In the study, procrastinators did the practice they needed to do when a goal wasn't defined as a test, but didn't do that same work when it was set forth as a test with consequences. This suggests that procrastination can also be a self-defeating behavior — the people were only procrastinating when they knew it mattered, suggesting that it's not the work they were avoiding, but succeeding at it."
Now that I'm equipped with this information, I try to reframe the way I think about procrastination.
- When framing the task as something fun or enjoyable rather than a test that will be measured, it helps me from procrastinating. For example, at the moment I think writing blog posts are fun because it is not my only source of income it is simply something I wish to do to share my learning experiences. If blogging was my only source of income, the pleasure factor would decrease because I would have to think about how many words I use, what language I should use to get more website hits, churning out content regularly or else folks will stop following my blog, etc.
- Tasks that used to be overindulgence and steeped in procrastination (ie. netflix and IG) are now used for self-care. I tend to schedule chunks of self-care time and I simply slot those activities into the self-care time slots in order to reduce the amount of time I spend doing these things.
- I write shorter to-do lists and spread them out over a week. I also only allow myself to plan 3-6 main tasks per day because it feels more doable. If I finish all my tasks for the day, I can start working on more stuff later in the week or catch up on some quadrant 2 activities.
- Limiting procrastination activities to when I'm commuting helps me (1) not have to interact with strangers on the bus/subway (2) have enough time to watch another Star Trek episode or scroll endlessly for at least an hour.
How do you deal with your procrastination issues?