There are many reasons why it is so hard for non-procrastinators to relate to chronic procrastinators. One of them is the inability to delete something quickly once they identify there is a need to do so, in order to declutter their mind and stay focused.
Few months ago, I was having a beer with a friend of mine who was preparing for his TOEIC exam.
Me: how is your preparation going? Where are you up to now?
My friend: pretty well. I am not ready yet, I need to learn 20 new vocabulary words a day, but I don’t.
Me:How many words do you succeed to learn now?
My friend: zero . I was pretty busy this time. I had to do sport , went to visit some friends, cleaned my House… But I plan to reach 30 words tomorrow.
I shook my head when I heard this. As I leaned forward, I could see on his face he was serious about multiplying his goal despite his zero success.
Me: Why not trying to learn 1 or 2 words a day before thinking about 20 words?
My friend: well because I won’t be able to end in two weeks with this rhythm.
What is the problem?
For a Non procrastinator it seems pretty easy to go from the discovery ” I didn’t succeed to accomplish xxx “ , to the intention ” I need to delete xxx” and finally reach the action ” I killed something from the list”.
This is not that simple for procrastinators. It is difficult for us to let go of our goals at an emotional level.
Lesson 1: chronic procrastinators are not motivated by small goals.
Having huge goals make us feel like we are running after something “meaningful.” It unconsciously flatters our Ego.
On the contrary, we found small goals worthless. So killing some intermediate steps doesn’t even emerge as an option most of the time.
Lesson 2: chronic procrastinators hate tracking themselves
To top it off, killing a task or a milestone from our project, obliges us to face the hard truth that we failed.
It involves looking in the mirror to self access our image: are we talker or doer? Why didn’t we accomplish this or that? Did we give our best? Generally the answer is a big “NO”.
Lesson 3: Chronic procrastinators are not patient
Acknowledging something has to be removed, implies that our project might take much more effort than we thought. It tests our patience to defer them when we are seeking immediate rewards.
This adds up to previous blockages and create a huge self conflict, which in turn leads to inner resistance, stress and lost of frustration.
The detailed loop usually goes like this
- We don’t achieve our initial goals
- Instead of killing one of them, we set higher goals. We build a back up plan, promise to give our best.
- Our mind becomes cluttered, We feel busy to death.
- We experience higher level of anxiety and struggle to execute.
- We fail again and repeat building back up plans.
- When the last moment arrives, the pressure increases and transforms us into unbelievable machines, but the final delivery is mediocre.
- We end up disappointed in ourselves, devastated by guilt, shame and regret
As usual, there are two kinds of solutions: for short term and long term.
Short term: Get out your mind and Explain your project’s projection to someone else
Whenever situation, the quickest solution is outside your head.
- If you are going to take a TOEFL exam in one month, go talk to a teacher and articulate your 1 month- action plan when other people say it requires 3 months.
- If you plan to make a business plan in 3 weeks when people say it requires 3 months, go meet an accountant to explicit the details of your strategy.
- If you are raising money for your company and you think it might take only 3 months when 6 months is generally advised, meet a mentor CEO and articulate your 3- month plan.
- If you think you can find a new job in 1 month , go meet a friend and articulate your game-plan.
- If you think writing your thesis would require just 3 months when people say it requires 1 year, go meet a post doctorate to take a hard look at your 3-month action plan.
People you are talking to will say something that will trigger a mind’s shift. They might point out a part you didn’t take into account or neglected within your projection.
Most of the time, we simply need others to tell us to do, what we already knew we had to do.
Long term: Build the attitude of killing things outside the scope of planning
Building a habit of sacrificing things that matters emotionally in real world, ease the job in your mind.
Not only does it help to declutter your mind quickly, but it brings clarify and focus to execute on remained activities.
So Everyday , ask yourself: “What can I delete today?” and options will surface.
If you hear an inner voice say ” I might use it later because ….”, go ahead and delete
- You have your email box opened, delete 5 unread emails.
- You have clothes you haven’t worn for months, through them in the tower.
- You have a lot of papers in your bag, extract the information and delete papers.
- There are phone contacts you haven’t used for years, delete.
I Personally make sure I delete 12 basic things a day.
After 10 consecutive days , you will feel sacrificing becomes easier when planning and tracking.
Heudou Tchihikou Aubin
A master chronic procrastinator who chose to execute on his dreams because of frustration and self-criticism