What Makes All of Us Procrastinators?

Yesterday I saw a TED Talk by Tim Urban about ‘What goes on in a Procrastinator’s mind?’ And hands down, it is true to its every last word.

Procrastinator is what we might also call the comfort zone. And getting out of it is always hard. To quote a line I had heard, “Obviously I won’t get out of my comfort zone, it is where I am comfortable!”

Clearing out the tension in the room, Tim Urban quite simply explained what exactly goes on in the mind of a procrastinator. It follows as-

The mind of a general person, who always completes his work on time, does not weep a night before in regret while continually murmuring, ‘Why didn’t I just do it when I had time?’ comprises of a rational thinker. He is a rational thinker; he is assigned a task and he completes it in the given period. So if the mind was a boat and rational thinking was the wheel; the one that drives it, then he would sail it like it; rationally.

To peep inside a procrastinator’s mind, the rational thinker here has a companion, fondly called the instant gratification monkey. Now this monkey is someone who encourages you to watch YouTube videos on any and everything. He won’t let you get any work done. He will keep pushing the deadline, to such a point where you just have to take control of the wheel and shoo the monkey away.

But since you let the monkey take control in the first place, your brain won’t trust you again and will call upon the Panic Monster. He is dormant until the deadline approaches; he is looking at it all, maybe even laughing at the lack of your ability to take control. And then at the very last moment, he scares the monkey away, leaving you in charge of the wheel. And when you finally do that, you complete the things. Though it is on time, since it is at the last moment, you can’t have done it thoroughly.

The non-procrastinators reading this would pat themselves on the back, getting all puffed up about how they are not the ones being talked about here. And in a way, yes, they should be proud of keeping the instant gratification monkey away. But all of this is when you are on a deadline.

Confused? Even I was for a moment.

Most people who do and do not Procrastinator while being on a deadline are talking about the things that are quite inevitable. Like submitting an assignment, or completing certain targets. These are such things that if you don’t complete on time, it technically won’t matter too much. Why you can always come up with a reason and submit the assignment a week later! But you see, it is inevitable, you don’t have an option otherwise. You just have to do it; you can’t keep giving reasons all your life.

But there are other things in life where no one is demanding you of it, there is no deadline. You are your only boss there.

Well, this coin here sure has two sides, and you are always tossing between both. Since you are the boss, you are the one giving yourself the deadline. But then again, since you are the boss, you can also keep pushing it for as much as you like Procrastinator.

There are things we have all been pushing. Like that one person wants to embark on his entrepreneurial journey. He has many things planned out; from funding to running the business, he knows it all. The only thing keeping him from doing that is the gratification monkey! If the job he is at is keeping him satisfied, and he is comfortable, why would Procrastinator want to break that so easily?

This brings us back to our “comfort zone” of ours. It sure does make sense, that if you are comfortable doing something why would you want to change it, and opt for something tedious?

If you have gotten hold of most of the things in a procrastinator’s mind, it should be easy for you to catch the fact that this is the monkey talking. Because the rational thinker, he’s got all of it figured out. He knows exactly what might go wrong. The monkey is just magnifying the wrongs to the point that it becomes the only thing visible.

So what are we doing giving monkey the charge? Panic Monster will not always be around, which is why you need to start doing what “the rational thinker” does. Start thinking rationally and get going!

There isn’t always going to be a deadline, and especially if you are the ones giving one, how long are you gonna push it?

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