My life would be so simple if I did what I thought I should do, when I thought I should do it. In otherwords, if I stopped procrastinating. I’m writing this at 4:30a.m. after waking and being unable to get back to sleep. I came downstairs and made a pot of herbal tea. Outside, a slight orange hue had broken the horizon, and I heard the chirps of the first birds of the morning outside my office window as I sat down at the computer, feeling compelled to write.
I write this for two reasons. Firstly, it’s what I thought I should do and I was able to act on the compulsion to do it rather than get distracted by something else, to fall back to sleep, or to make the usual procrastinating decision to ‘do it later’. Secondly, I write this as a means of self-therapy. A way to process my thoughts and organise my mind, while simultaneously creating a piece of writing that might serve a purpose rather than simply being an outlet of my stream of consciousness, which, when I am finished, would be thrown into the rubbish bin.
Perhaps this is a critical first step in overcoming my chronic habit of procrastination and distraction. I’m very good at thinking about things. In my mind I can extrapolate complex situations, even life, out to a conclusion. I see the actions required, the steps to take on the path which will almost certainly lead to reaching the desired outcome. Alas, I do not act. Rather than simply acting, doing, making, (insert verb here), I Instead become distracted, much like I am now, thinking about why I do not act. Making plans to act. Making plans to resolve my perceived defects and become the person I want to be, the person I know I can be. At this point in my life – the person I should be. I say should be in terms of my own judgement and belief in my own capabilities rather than some external criteria.
The difference at this moment in time is that, even though I am engaged in the process of contemplation, I set out with the intention of writing in such a way that it might be read by someone else. I set out with the intention that the piece would be coherent and would be a structured discussion and progressive exploration of my own procrastinating. This intention, critically, was to be the primary motive for writing the piece. My primary motive is not to consider my procrastinating ways, but to actually create and produce a piece of writing. On cessation of this activity, I will then be able to look back and see that I did in fact achieve something. I will have something to show for my efforts. The writing will not be thrown into the rubbish bin, and I will not find myself sitting there cursing myself for not achieving anything productive in the last hour, knowing that I should have – but for some reason I cannot quite grasp – having failed. On the contrary, I will have achieved what I set out with the intention to do, which will allow me to sit and look back with a sense, though it may be small, of achievement and accomplishment. I will have achieved a small victory over my own self-tendency towards procrastination.
As I reach this point, I’m faced with the decision of whether to extend this discussion further, but my intuition tells me that the piece of writing has made its point and will soon have achieved its purpose. Like a marathon runner who gains a glimpse of the finishing line ahead, I find an extra rise of determination to complete what I started, and the smell of victory is in the air. In writing this, I staved off procrastination. I followed through on my intention and as a result have a sense of accomplishment; and it felt easy. It seems indeed that life can be so simple, if only I do what I think I should do, when I think I should do it.