I am a horrible procrastinator. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who isn’t, so at least there’s comfort in that. But one of my little tricks to get around my procrastination and actually get things done is to procrastinate in reverse.
When you get right down to it, procrastination is my self-centered wish to spare this moment’s “me” from unpleasant activities. I don’t want to do the dishes right now, so I’ll treat myself to avoiding them. There’s a little bit of fantasy involved, since I apparently think that avoiding it now will somehow make the task disappear altogether.
But after years of procrastinating, I am learning that unpleasant tasks are stubborn, and they resolutely refuse to disappear. In fact, the food only gets more definitively stuck to the plates. The bills only get later until, finally, I’m paying late fees. The check book only gets harder to balance as the days–and the checks and ATM transactions–go on.
So, instead of sparing my in-the-moment me, I take a minute to think of the future me. I think about what it would be like tomorrow morning to have to deal with a sink full of tonight’s supper dishes. And then, I think about how nice it would be if I went into the kitchen all bleary-eyed, searching for coffee, and saw a clean, empty sink instead.
I still get the satisfaction of sparing myself an unpleasant chore. But this way, the unpleasantness really does disappear. At least until tomorrow night’s supper.
It may be weird, but it works for me! Click here to see what works for Shannon.