Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator
We've all experienced procrastination, some of us more than others, and sometimes it could even be on a regular basis. Tim Urban calls himself a master procrastinator, and he's created an entire website dedicated to procrastination called Wait But Why. In his TED Talk, he explains that procrastination doesn't usually make sense and most of us don't know what compels us to wait until the last minute to do something we know we should be doing. Procrastination is defined as the act of delaying or postponing something. All of us have done this at one point or another, but some people are better at getting over procrastination than others. Tim talks about how a person who doesn't procrastinate will be in control with their Rational Decision-Maker in the driver's seat. The procrastinator also has the Rational Decision-Maker, but they also have the Instant Gratification Monkey who comes in and makes it very difficult for the Rational Decision-Maker to do their job. The monkey only thinks about the present even going so far as to ignore lessons learned in the past as well as not regarding the future either. All the monkey is focused on is making things easy and fun. So instead of doing the work which is boring and can be difficult, why not just do something that's fun or more enjoyable instead and completely ignore responsibility. While this may seem like a great way to live, it's not conducive to living a healthy lifestyle.
While the monkey's behaviour would be fine in the animal world, in the human world and in the society we live in, that way of living isn't practical if you want to achieve anything or have a healthy lifestyle. Tim goes on to explain how when we give into the monkey mind we are doing fun things while we're supposed to be engaging our minds to do some hard work which can lead to feeling guilty, anxious, and even self-hatred. The only thing that stops the monkey dead in its tracks is what Tim calls The Panic Monster which is dormant most often but if you have a deadline approaching or some other danger the Panic Monster rears it's head, so you get some work done. This is a very stressful way of getting things done, and whenever this happens, we also might be selling ourselves short which also eats away at our self-esteem. Procrastination is thought to only affect our work-life, but Tim also goes into detail on how it can affect our personal health and wellbeing, and how we often put off doing things we actually want to do as well.
Procrastination isn't just a modern day occurrence either, even though some people think that TV or the Internet makes people procrastinate. It turns out that procrastination has affected the health and wellbeing of people even going back to Ancient Greece. A Greek poet, Hesiod, wrote "do not put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.” back in 800 BC. Psychologists say that true procrastination has to do with failing to self-regulate and manage emotions, it's a self-defeating behaviour where emotional regulation is missing. So when something doesn't feel good we don't want to do it, so naturally, we pull away from it, but if we are able to self-regulate our emotions, we can understand that while something may not always feel good to do while you're working hard on it, the benefits you receive after the work is done will be worth it. It's much like climbing a mountain which is a very difficult task in the present moment, but you know that the view from the top is going to be incredible, so you keep going. For more on Procrastination and how it affects our health and wellbeing check out Tim's TED Talk and his website.***
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