I have been meaning to write this blog for a very long time now (see, this is where I’m coming from). It’s just that one unimportant thing led to another and here I am… writing after ages of having initiated that thought. Anyways, that’s too much for an intro, isn’t it?
I remember, as a kid, my parents always said to me… “Don’t waste time. Study (sometimes followed by curses I won’t mention here). You cannot get back time. It’s a precious resource you’re wasting. At this age, you only have to study (that was the ’80s though and then it was true too). Once you grow up, you have to do several things in addition to it. If you can’t find time to study or do other important stuff now, how will you find time as a grown-up?
Been there, done that? I’m sure some of us (let’s be honest – most of us) have heard this as kids. Too bad, I didn’t pay much attention to it and here I am – a full-grown lazy bum. Call me a couch potato if you please. The point is – why am I what I am – lazy. I never took the time to understand why. For a good measure, self-realization crept in lately and I have at least accepted the fact that I’m lazy – a procrastinator. The first task accomplished – I know what I’m ailing from. Yes – that’s the right term – ailment.
I know I’m not alone – but I’m not proud of it either. And let me also inform – this is not a remedial talk / article. It’s an expression of what feel and the way I feel it. The other day, I was watching an episode of TED Talks – one that covered precisely this topic. That’s what finally opened my eyes to the reality. Suddenly everything that I do (or rather do not do) started building the picture – block by block. Finally, I got a very logical explanation to my ailment.
Now let’s see how it works. it all starts with a genuine need to accomplish a task e.g. exercising, cleaning, washing, cycling, getting a bank job done, finishing an assessment / assignment etc. Let’s call it the task or Step 1. What should ideally follow is execution. But wait… isn’t this (some other unimportant yet interesting task) nice? How about finishing this and then the original task at hand? Let’s call it the distraction or step 2.
A recent case in point was last week when my wife asked me to email her flight tickets to her. So here we go:
1. Task: Email wife’s flight ticket (PDF) to her (1100 IST)
2. Distraction: I boot up my PC (1105 IST), open Chromium and see YouTube in the ‘most visited sites’ list and inadvertently click on it (that email can wait). I start off with some movie trailers which then led me to Lost Castles of England, followed by The Cannibal of Scotland, Mysteries from the Deep Sea and so on (1300 IST).
3. More distraction (1310 IST): Hey, I didn’t have my tea (from the nearby tea stall). Let me have it quickly and then get back home and email the tickets.
4. Distractions continued (1330 IST): Some random phone calls, random chats on WhatsApp, checking random posts on Facebook etc.
5. Completion (1645 IST): I finally reach home and get straight to my PC (which I left running, just that I remembered to turn off the monitor) and FINALLY email her the flight tickets.
Start: 1100 IST.
Finish: 1700 IST
Wastage: 4 hours
I’m sure successful people would die either laughing or amazed at my irrepressible talent at wasting a rather precious commodity called TIME. Ask me WHY and I’ll look up to the sky shrugging my shoulders, rolling my eyes.
The way I look at it – it’s not an incurable ailment. It’s just that the WILL to do so or to get out of this self-deprecating habit is missing or very weak. What I failed to understand is that the Task (Step 1) HAS to be done – regardless of distractions. There is a deadline to it too. Here’s why I could accomplish it in the first place.
Reason 1: This task had a deadline. It’s no use emailing the tickets once the flight takes off. It has to be sent well in advance.
Reason 2: Sense of panic.
I’m lucky that the part of my brains where PANIC resides, is well nourished. So as time passed by, the panic cells started kicking in and telling me – hey, don’t forget what your wife asked you to do. Time’s running out. You inner voice!!! Mmmmwah 😉
Now there’s a completely different genre of Tasks – the ones that do not have a deadline e.g. working out, taking the dog for a walk, cycling, swimming, weekend outings, catching up with friends and family, calling up near and dear ones – these are the tasks that most like get delayed exponentially. This is for the simple reason that there is no deadline for accomplishing them. But that’s no excuse for delaying or worse – not doing them. They are important too.
So inside this procrastinator’s brain, it’s always a tiff between Distractions outside and Panic cells in the brains. This way, certain tasks get accomplished while most of them get delayed. But like I said earlier – I’m not alone. I see many people my age and otherwise, doing the same things that I do – the way I do. This kinda concerns me.
Friends, let’s all remember one thing – TIME is indeed precious (excuse the cliche). The more you waste it, the more you regret. Regrets get you nowhere – they may probably, just probably tell you better that to waste time. Let’s not wait till it’s too late. What if the Panic cells don’t kick in? What if there was nobody to remind you about the task at hand? What if someone heavily depended on the timely accomplishment of that task.
Procrastination is not worth ANYTHING. Let’s all look within ourselves and ask – Why can’t that (the distraction) wait. Is it really important? Can’t I do that later? Do I really have to do it? I’m sure soon you’ll have the answers cut out in rock that reads ‘No / It’s not that important / It CAN wait / Don’t do this’. And eventually, we won’t have to ask ourselves those stupid questions. Stupid – not owing to the intrinsic nature of the questions – but because we should not have to ask them in the first place. We should now how to prioritise the tasks at hand and manage our time.
I’m sure I’ll start this introspection / retrospection… maybe tomorrow !!!
Bye for now. Remember, you have other important things to do. So go now!!!