On the danger of procrastination

Often, we only learn the true dangers of procrastination when it's too late.Okay. So, when I say there’s a downright danger of procrastination, some people might immediately call hyperbole.

And that is part of the danger itself.

Let’s face it: We all procrastinate to a certain extent. Even that one annoyingly productive over-achiever in your class or on your office.

Hell, even highly successful people procrastinate. However, that doesn’t make it right, and we all know it.

When we procrastinate, there’s often a certain element of justification in that we, however half-assedly, tell ourselves that we have enough time. And therefore, we’ll do something ‘later’. Or even ‘tomorrow’.

Another part of the danger of procrastination, however, is that, as they say, tomorrow never comes.

There is only the here and the now. That’s it.

But wait a minute! I’ve had a new day come every single day of my life!

… And that’s yet ANOTHER part of the problem.

We humans have the ability to think in abstract terms, also when it comes to chronology. Even though all we experience is right here and now, our highly evolved memory and logic along with our knowledge of the human lifespan (and even of history) allows us to not only think but plan ahead.

Not only in terms of hours and days, but months, years, and, for some, maybe even full decades.

We KNOW perfectly well that the Earth is gonna continue to revolve around the sun. And of course we HAVE to plan ahead because we can’t DO all of our tasks and undertakings right here and now.

And here’s where it really becomes a lose/lose-situation for us…

Even though we’re aware of the danger of procrastination, we might do it anyway. Because procrastination pays off instantly.

The danger of procrastination is treacherous, because unlike procrastination itself, its harmful effect is anything but immediate. The danger of procrastination lies in the risk of finding out much too late exactly how fatally procrastination harms our dreams and wishes for the future.

Okay, so how do we avoid this??

Well, if we wanna be able to overcome procrastination, we need to be better at prioritizing.

Or, indeed, DOWN-prioritizing.

See, the good news is, we should forget about multitasking and only work on that ONE proverbial thing at a time. Because multitasking, as it turns out, does more harm than good.

So, we get to do one thing at a time. This means, we need to figure out what’s most important. It also means, we get to do this one thing in designated blocks of time.

… And then, in the gaps between, we can schedule a little time for the things we would have done procrastinating.

How ‘bout that??

See, it’s not necessarily the things you do when procrastinating that are dangerous in themselves. It’s the very HABIT of procrastination that’s dangerous.

And what’s even better is, the more we get used to only working on one thing at a time, the more we hone our focus, — which is not only good for a lot of things, but detrimental towards procrastination.

The danger of procrastination can be mitigated, and even prevented. But, as with everything else that’s rewarding in the long-term, it takes focus, and effort. And you’re not gonna get there by procrastinating.

ACTION POINT:

1. Make a list of all your to-do’s for the next week.
2. Next, make a new list where you sort the items in order of urgency, relevance and payoff. The most urgent, relevant and/or potentially rewarding goes higher than the rest.
3. When done, you should, ideally have a fully prioritized to-do list for the next week. The top item is what you should primarily focus your energy and attention on.
4. Remember: You might not need to get them all done by the end of the week. The point here is simply to get familiar with prioritizing.

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