My worst habit is definitely putting things off for tomorrow that I really should be doing today.
Hi, my name is Tory and I am a serial procrastinator. I love to design elaborate to-do lists that get crumpled and thrown in the bin because I never actually tick anything off. My favorite saying is ‘that’s a problem for Future Tory.’
Well guess what Past Tory? Future Tory hates you. You make her life so much more difficult than it has to be. Past Tory does not know how to adult. Past Tory re-watches Black Books for the zillionth time instead of folding the laundry. Seriously though, how good is Black Books? So funny. Bernard Black is totally my spirit animal.
Oh my god I’m procrastinating my way through a blog post about procrastination. That’s some Inception stuff right there. I get that no-one actually likes to do the adult stuff like pay bills or fold laundry or stack the dishwasher. Given the choice most people would rather sit on the internet or watch obscure British comedies on Netflix. I also get the idea that I make my life more difficult by not doing these things at the appropriate time. I just can’t seem to stop myself from putting things off.
So How Do I Kick My Worst Habit?
I recently watched an amazing TED Talk by Tim Urban that goes inside the mind of a procrastinator and it put things in some amazingly clear terms. If you don’t have time to watch it, here’s a comic version. I’ve definitely been letting my Instant Gratification Monkey steer the ship a little too much. So how do a kick my lifelong bad habit? Slowly and carefully. I need to take some baby steps to get myself back on track and out of the Dark Playground. Here’s my 5 point plan for beating procrastination.
I figure I can stand most anything for 15 minutes, so when I have a bunch of things to do I set a timer and get each task done one after the other. No multitasking allowed. I race against the clock like the child I am. How much can I get done in 15 minutes? Can I beat yesterday’s record? This works for me for both housework and my day job. I’m always surprised at how much I can get done in such a short timeframe.
2) Eating The Frog
We’ve talked about this before on the blog, but to recap, Mark Twain said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, the day has to get better from there. If I get myself to do the job I hate first, all the rest seem easier. Instead of putting off the customer I hate calling or ignoring the test plans I need to create, I try to do it first. Once it’s out of the way, the other stuff is a breeze.
3) Being Realistic
Sadly I’m not Manny with his awesome rig up there but I’m similar in that every time I try to not procrastinate, I go too big too fast and get frustrated because I can’t instantly do all the things that an adult should be able to do. So I’m being realistic about my capabilities. Once I’ve built a habit up for a few weeks (like folding laundry WHILE Netflixing), I’ll add another into the routine. And so on and so forth til I’m adulting like a champ.
Using the example of the laundry again, after a full week of folding every night, I bought myself a present. When you’re trying to build a habit, it’s important to reward the little things to give your brain that little happy boost. It makes it feel like less of a grind and gives you something tangible to look forward to. Sadly my brain isn’t happy when it sees a clean house, it needs a trinket.
5) Not Quitting
This one’s pretty key for me. I tend to stick to a routine for about a week, then miss a day, decide it’s too hard and give up entirely. I have this idea that it’s perfection or nothing, if I miss a day it’s all pointless. I need to cut myself a little slack and learn to pick the habit back up the next day. Nobody’s perfect, and I don’t have to be either.
And just because I still love him, I’ll leave you with one more piece of questionable wisdom from Bernard Black.
Well, I’ve confessed my worst habit. What’s yours? Are you a serial procrastinator like me? Confess in the comments or join the link up over at My Home Truths!