Why do we procrastinate? (Part III - From Planning to Doing)
In the past few emails, we talked about why we procrastinate and how effective planning is one part of the solution. Now onto the second phase: doing.
(If you haven't yet, read Part I - Why do we procrastinate? (The Problem) and Why do we procrastinate? (Part II - A Solution). Tim has come up with a handful of clever names for the places our mind wanders and where it wants to go. This image helps us in following his line of thinking:
Image Credit: Wait But Why - How to beat procrastination.
“The first thing you must do is make it through the Critical Entrance. This means stopping whatever you’re doing when it’s time to begin the task, putting away all distractions, and getting started. It sounds simple, but this is the hardest part. This is where the Instant Gratification Monkey puts up his fiercest resistance…”
After starting the work and entering the “Critical Entrance,” you might find yourself in “The Dark Woods”. This is when you first start working on a hard task and it is challenging and you are constantly fighting fun and easy distractions.
Basically, the Instant Gratification Monkey is looking for any excuse to not do the work. Every small challenge is a chance for him to force your mind to do something else.
The adventurous analogy continues:
“The good news is, if you can power through a bit of the Dark Woods, something funny happens. Making progress on a task produces positive feelings of accomplishment and raises your self-esteem. The monkey gains his strength off of low self-esteem, and when you feel a jolt of self-satisfaction, the monkey finds a High Self-Esteem Banana in his path. It doesn’t quell his resistance entirely, but it goes a long way to distracting him for a while, and you’ll find that the urge to procrastinate has diminished.”
As you continue working on a task and you start getting momentum, resistance decreases and the Monkey may even begin to get interested and find joy in the task at hand — this is when you begin to enter a state of enjoyment and maybe even enter a state of Flow, where your skills and interest are in alignment with the work at hand.
“There’s only one way to truly beat procrastination: You need to prove to yourself that you can do it.”
Tim makes a clear distinction. It’s not just about telling ourselves but it’s about showing ourselves.
All that to say, the only way to get around procrastination is by just doing the work.