You may have noticed that our blog hasnt been updated since February 21. That’s almost 7 months of procrastination. Sure, I could rationalize procrastination by saying in this past 7 months we had lots of new projects, family issues, etc… But rationalizing is just an excuse. And reading this user’s comment embarrassed and motivated me.
The truth is, I didnt place enough priority into this blog, even though I know the investment I made into building this community has been realized 100x over. So when I saw this on Reddit (procrastinators’ central), I had to come out of hiding:
Many natural procrastinators I know (including myself, and much of Reddit) are people who are praised for their intelligence, and misinterpret that as a sign that they don’t need to have structure for their brain’s daily activities, and don’t need to give it the proper respect and exercise that it requires and deserves. So they neglect it – let it run wild on the internet, gorge itself on Reddit and Facebook and porn and games (the mental equivalent of junk food and jerking off), and allow it to lapse into a vicious cycle of unaccountable information binging and inevitable self loathing.
Your brain adapts to, and then perpetuates, the habits to which it is constantly exposed. That fact doesn’t work in your favor right now, but you can change that. My suggestions:
1) Structure your time.
By scheduling your daily activities, you provide a motivation to be present and diligent for your responsibilities. Plus, this will discourage the huge, unhealthy blocks of surf time that arise when you don’t plan your time out ahead. As far as skill acquisition like studying goes, I recommend time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique to give your brain a healthy routine length. You may also want to invest in a timer, or a program that acts like one, so you can monitor how much time you’re actually spending plugged in, and hold yourself accountable for it in the future.
This tip also extends to structuring your sleep schedule. I assume you’re in college, and there’s always fun stuff like parties and dorm CoD seshes and recreational drug use happening at any given time in college. Even if not, there’s always the internet. Learn to pull the plug, even when you don’t feel like you want to stop, and get your 6-8 hours a night. It does wonders for your self-control, self-image, and your presence in real life as opposed to inside your head.
2) Figure out why you procrastinate.
Procrastination is a type of experiential avoidance that causes itself through an unwillingness to feel uncomfortable emotions, or be in unpleasant situations, even at personal detriment. I personally was an internet/League of Legends addict because I wanted to avoid confronting my anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness, and losing myself in my laptop provided an avenue where I could feel ‘in control’. It’s different for everyone, but this attitude is rather common nowadays. You owe it to yourself to be honest about what it is you’re procrastinating from, and why you fell into the habit. It may take some reflection.
3) Learn to tolerate, or even enjoy, putting time and effort into your work.
Many Redditors, and internet users in general, have been conditioned into believing that truly intelligent people don’t need to work hard at what they do. I was one such dumbfuck, and since I breezed through my AP science courses in high school, I deluded myself into thinking I didn’t need to study for anything, and that cramming was enough. Then college-level Organic Chemistry came along and punched me in the face.
You may, presently, also believe that you are smart enough not to study. Don’t kid yourself anymore. That’s your brain talking, spoiled by lack of discipline and fattened up on trivia that it’ll never need to use, trying to sweet-talk you into not eating broccoli and having ice cream instead. You’ve got to be a tough-love parent, and make sure your kid eats his vegetables.
4) Incentivize your productivity. You are your own RPG hero.
Procrastinators have a problem with delaying gratification. Internet addicts, specifically, are driven to surf by the easy ‘accomplishment’ feeling from learning tidbits of Avatar or My Little Pony trivia, or perfecting their last-hitting in LoL, or racking up no-scopes in CoD. This is an easier way for your brain to create and savor small hits of dopamine than confronting real-life responsibilities -responsibilities that are harder, more time-consuming, and that give less obvious, more ambiguous rewards.
You can combat this addiction by substituting it. Many recovering procrastinators come to see themselves as their own RPG player-character, their own Tamagotchi or Sim or Pocket Pikachu. Doing practice problems? EXP into your INT stat. Gym time? Boosting your STR. Going to networking events for your major, socializing with professionals in your desired career? Major levels in Charisma, with points into a possible class change in the future.
Personally, I’m not totally absorbed into that style of discipline. But I did borrow an idea from the Pomodoro Technique and DDR, which is combo chains. Every day that I accomplish a general task (studying, exercise, writing in a journal, not looking at porn, etc.) is a link on the chain I drew on my whiteboard, while missing a day erases the chain. I want those suckers to get too long to fit on the board.
The main thing about this mindset is that you need to invest in your personal development in terms that your tech-addicted brain is already familiar with. Think about this – if you were playing the Sims, and your Sim self needed to go to work but was playing computer games instead, would you let him stay at his laptop? HELL NO.
5) You are not going to like the change in lifestyle.
It is going to feel like shit. Accept it and power through it anyway. The emotions that an addict suffers through while quitting are sweet siren calls, seductively beseeching you to slam your ship into the rocks. Your brain is used to the habits. It likes the habits. It doesn’t want you to stop. It will present you with thoughts that tempt you to break your combo and forsake your willpower.
You are not your habits. You are not your thoughts. They are the many drops of water in the ocean that you are sailing in. The waters may be stormy and fickle, and may, without the force of your will, push you into shipwreck after shipwreck. It may seem easier just to let your ship be tossed wherever the follies of your brain take it. But it is your duty to captain your ship, especially in harder waters, and wrest yourself back on course with gritted teeth and the knowledge that you are stronger than the storm.
Procrastination 101 Infographic
TL:DR – Get sleep, stop fapping your brain, organize yourself, it’ll feel like shit but that’s a good sign.
If you liked his advice, go to Reddit and upvote him.