The Most Impressive People I know Are Also Consummate Procrastinators. To Beat Procrastination, Have Nothing To Do Now or Later.
In fact, it isn’t the action itself that freaks people out, but preparing to act. Just as it isn’t the goal that gives people stress, but the process of it. Better writers have advised to always put the message close to the end of the essay but I want to do it now: The single most effective solution against procrastination is to do everytime, what you do when you do nothing.
First message about procrastination in there. I can’t wait till the end to tell the truth I’ve found. I can’t procrastinate it. Not even till the right time. When you really want to do something and you are mentally ready for it, you won’t be able to wait, not even for the right time.
So what’s all the whinging about?
Procrastination is just human beings doing what they do best: Creating problems where there’s none else. Procrastination is not the problem, but that you seems not to be enjoying the process.
Let’s assume you want to write an essay about a particular subject of interest; if you cannot write it immediately you are not ready. So go back to meditating or researching. Or perhaps you may be ready to write about something else but that the to-do is not making you look there.
A fundamental problem with knowledge is that many people have taught what they weren’t willing or ready to teach. The internet has thus far make the case worse. And you can see there are so much hard-reads. You are barely a paragraph into an essay and you already got aches in your pons. You know why? For the writer too, it was a hard-write. Hard-writes make for hard-reads. The emotion you experience while consuming a content is the same as that which was experienced by the creator while creating it.
And here the readers must be aware that they have options. What the internet means, what knowledge means most of all, is that for every information that is hard to consume, there’s a plethora on the same subject that are easy. So for every content that the producer forced himself to produce, there are tons of contents that forced their producers to produce them. The topic chooses the author I mean, not the other way round.
Now here, don’t misunderstand what I preach as waiting. No. But know that at every point in time there’s something you don’t have to wait to produce. A person’s life is a constant preparation for something. At every point you are being prepared towards a particular action. But man has invented the to-do because he craves to produce. Preferring to go with the illusion of achievement, irrespective of how divorced it is from what he should be achieving.
I can even say this is the summary of the human struggle: We don’t get to do what we’ve been prepared to do.
If you feel stuck at something, try another thing. Try another thing and try another thing. This is life; and what life means is that there’s a potpourri of things to try that you can never exhaust. Try until you find that thing you want to do for the rest of your life. Something you can’t wait to do. Something you can’t procrastinate.
Richard Feynman enjoyed teaching. He was a fine teacher. But he struggled with writing papers. What did he do? He taught more that no one cared he couldn’t write much. Karl Marx struggled to write his Magnum opus The Communist Manifesto. For months he kept procrastinating. Until the communist community gave him an ultimate and attached a punishment Marx thought too severe, “Deliver in six weeks or lose your membership.” Marx delivered.
I can go on. Examples after examples. The most impressive I know are also consummate procrastinators. But they are impressive because they have discovered earlier this simple truth you are just finding out, that it isn’t so much about doing but about doing what you so much enjoy doing. That is, doing what you are meant to be doing.
Hence, if you don’t want to procrastinate anymore, and you want to produce much more, here’s the trick: Know thyself, spend time with thyself, spend thoughts on thyself. Remember that mantra? “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax?” You expect to be productive without caring a bit what the producer in you really wants to produce? Who does that?
The journey is the reward. Any fool can enjoy the outcome or loathe the repercussion. But the journey, the process, is where life is. It’s where productivity is. It’s where you find yourself. And it’s not about finding a way to enjoy the journey. That’s a shortcut. Often a shortcut to miserableness. The clue is to find the journey you enjoy.
Granted, procrastination is a signal. That voice in your head that yells, “You don’t want to do this!” Or sometimes, “You don’t want to do this now!” Don’t do to-do. Do to do. Do to find out what you should be doing.
Another point is to never stop learning. Some people don’t know what to do because they don’t know anything about it. Many a people who would have enjoyed coding, writing, designing, speaking, leading, all those fantastic things but they never learnt how to do them.
And experimenting too. You shouldn’t assume you don’t enjoy doing something because you failed at the first try, the second or third. That’s the learning process. And failing at something and not enjoying it are two different things. But to enjoy something you keep failing at means you’ve found it. That’s where it works, that Winston Churchill’s saying that if you are going through hell, you should keep going.
Learning, plus experimenting is one fine hack for productivity.