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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Procrastination: Instant Gratification, Secret Payoffs & How To Co[-operate]

Getting this one big job, figuring out how to start your own business, trying to kickstart a DIY project at home, entering a near nerve wrecking stage of closeness to your upcoming exams. Whatever it is that is haunting you, or that which you are dealing with in your life right now, I sincerely hope that being a procrastinator is not among them.

If you are anything like me though, over-achieving perfectionist dragged down by my own default setting of self-doubt and procrastination issues, well: A very warm welcome to the club!

And if you are indeed in one form or another prone to procrastination, may what is written beneath keep you good council on your very own and unique journey towards a very noble goal: To slowly, mindfully befriending your inner procrastinator.

Chapeau, Mesdames et Messieurs!

Let me paint you a picture:

1 Something else is more enticing than the work at hand

Well, easy answer is: This is the secret payoff. Although I might have to add that when the bad conscious hits and self-invites, well, then no matter what else you chose to do, the bad conscious silently (or violently) eats you up from the inside. Yet, you keep coming back to it anyway, because that way you at least can...

2 Escape the pretty intimidating/boring/frustrating task at hand

Absolutely one of my favourites. Because now it is not just a little thing, it became this unfathomable, un controllable Dark Matter of impossibility. And even if you know, every project and journey begins with the first step; and even if you have watched a trillion YouTube videos that contain the wisdom of simply splitting the huge-ness into smaller, manageable mini-assignments: By this point, you still have come so far in running away and achieving nothing that...

3 There simply is not enough time left to make meaningful progress on your task anyway

Because 'Dream Big or Go Home' echoes within the transcendent hallways of your perfectionistic soul, you torture yourself further, over-achiever. Now making it all about how the vision won't even come to life, doubting if it even is that wonderful, because there is no trust that talent or skill flows through the veins of your existence.

Is there even a purpose to it all?

Here we come to the very last state of the delicate downward spiral that procrastination envelops us with: While spending time musing about universal questions about the wisdom of life itself, time sure did run out as it was predicted by your self-fulfilling prophecy earlier on. A yawn escapes and your head started to ache. It is late.

4 You are too tired now to spend any more energy on the task

Instead of an inspiring, content feeling of a day well spent, lots achieved, you can lie back into the cosy bed with the slowly receding knowledge that tomorrow, you may do all of this again... or get your act together and do it. And here is exactly where my journey started to find ways of coping, or a word that opens space to a word that feels more respectfully, co-operating.

Co -Operating

1 Something else is more enticing than the work at hand

Here something comes into play that I have never ever found useful before; my (nowadays barely in use anymore, hidden) talent of being a pessimist. Full blown pessimists all over the world : 'Tis your time to shine! Because if you tap into the thing that is more enticing and apply all that could go wrong or might feel less enticing, you actually can put your choice into a more realistic view. Maybe you even realise that the up until now enticing thing simply provides you with an escape route, and therefore is not something you would really benefit from.

On the other hand, our optimists out there, listen up; it is easy for you as well. You just focus on the task at hand and apply your ability to glow up life itself. Eh voila, you have made the work ahead more enticing.

That is it, with that we covered a 100% of the population.

And we're only at No. 1 !

2 Escape the pretty intimidating/boring/frustrating task at hand

It is genuinely not easy to say this but I am going to say it anyway: Break it down into smaller chunks.

I know I said: '[...]and even if you have watched a trillion YouTube videos containing the wisdom of simply splitting the huge-ness into smaller, manageable mini-assignment [...]'.

There is no denying that a little self-discipline is needed to build up every strength, right?! A superpower (like co-operating in a healthy and enriching way with the innate human superpower of procrastination) isn't trained to black belt karate level within one day, but it can be experienced and from then on believed in. And we are currently aiming on the experience itself. The very first time you prove yourself wrong and actually pull it off. The time that forever more shall tickle your memory whenever you magically pull this weak escape plan out of your magic hat.

Yes, intense, but let us finish on a more accurate image for our minds on how to co-operate with the instinct of subconsciously needing see the impregnable mountain in order to abandon the right course of action.

If you are able to switch it around, the way becomes the gratification, the feeling of accomplishment becomes gratification- the 2nd kind of fun.

Switch it around: Every bit identified as a smaller assignment will get you to the big picture again. At the end of the rainbow (of post-it markers, colourful and in all shapes and sizes, I love them) you will get the same feeling of having your most favourite dessert dish in front of you, ready to enjoy it. And this most certainly also gives you permission to feel accomplished for the day

You have made smaller chunks, task for the day accomplished- time to feel good!

Go out and treat yourself to that mouthwatering dish you had in mind! Congratulate yourself for doing it, take time to acknowledge that for once, you have experienced change therefore change is possible.

Maybe then No. 3 needn't even enter the stage!

3 There simply is not enough time left to make meaningful progress on your task anyway

If you hit it hard on this one, there is only one thing to do: Accept it, lean back and think about it realistically. Not philosophically; I do not mean asking yourself since you let it come so far and there is no time left, if it even is something you should care about because come to think of it you never thought this task was encompassing the purpose of your existence on this Earth in the first place. No. I mean realistically as in asking yourself the elementary question of

'When was I the most productive in my life?'

I might not hit 100% of people with this one, but the majority of you out there, I dare say, been more productive when you were having (paradoxically) the busiest days.

Aren't we all?

When a lot has to been done, the brain functions and does not bother us with a procrastination bomb. And oh, how accomplished do we feel after a day (or night for that matter, if you are a night owl) of a completed To Do list. Tread lightly though, beloved souls, as all things in life: Balance is key!

Still, if you have clambered down the ladder of procrastination to enter the state of no return, also known as fatigue, I present one last effort to reach out to yourself, saving you from more negative self-talk resulting in even more self-fulfilling prophecies..

4 You are too tired now to spend any more energy on the task

SIT UP! Or better even: STAND UP!

Admittedly, all caps seems like yelling. In this case it is intentional! Our posture influences how we feel and our attitude towards life. If you are all cuddled up on the sofa after a day of torturing yourself because you have nothing accomplished and feel like a loser, smoothly sitting up straight and interrupting behaviour patterns contributes to the needed first experience of being in power, having options and not giving up (or giving in to the instant gratification of not having to deal with it any more, comfortably eating.your favourite sweets while watching a movie or documentary that is deeply inspiring and... I lost track, and probably was veering slightly off course).

If you have one raised eyebrow in disbelief now, let me say that I have another one: Actually standing up and doing something. I found that when I have any kind of restlessness or avoidance, going away from it and focusing on moving the body, boosts my personal rate of afterwards being able to start tackling the job, instead of succumbing to more negativity and/or avoidance. Depending on the mood I'd take a mini walk in town or in nature, roll out my mat in my apartment and do some Yoga, washing the dishes, cooking myself a small treat, having a break from the screen (no smartphones allowed except for music or photography/videography).

Be productive in some other way and maybe afterwards that was the little push you needed to ace the first step into the project!

Famous Last Words


Why You Failed


This topic hit close to home for me personally. I can remember how I was indoctrinated from a very early age that in order to be of value int his world, discipline is key. Enforced throughout my existence like a purple thread crawling through your veins, giving small amounts of stone cold poison off whenever I knew I lacked discipline. For some this might result in a heightened capacity for a healthy handling of the magnitude of this word, discipline, and they established an inspiring relationship with the concept. For me, I associated everything and anything bad with it.

Discipline was no less than the depths of blackness where you are locked down by chains, rotting away with no chance of experiencing freedom.

Healthy, I know.

Against my instincts, I won't elaborate on that. Conveniently, if you are interested, I wrote about it before and here is the link:

What I mean to say though is a life hack you can thank me (or James Clear) later for.

The next time you procrastinate, ask yourself how the decision you are making now (the conscious decision of being too distracted, to bored, to lazy, to tired, to whatever it is your procrastination is telling you it is; ask yourself how the decision to not make a change right now, a decision to not end this circle and not start over; ask yourself how this will affect your life in 6 months.

In short: Tell yourself the story of Why You Failed.

And make changes accordingly.

You do not have an adequate work area - be creative and innovative and change that.

You are an empowered being, you are not a slave to things on the outside and around you.

You are under the false impression that only the finish line counts - start exploring the possible joys of all that lies between now and then. Instant gratification became the killer of human values. We all strive to save time as much as we can, and yet it seems we all have precious little to spend. The more we buy things that promise us saved time, instant gratification, the less time we have in the end. Thus, if you know you work the best when you are under pressure, that is fine and wonderful for you. But most of us would love a healthy relationship with procrastination and gain from it more freedom to experience having time. This is only possible if we return to a balance by relishing the path we took to get where we want.

Abstract idea, maybe.

It will not to be proven wrong by you unless tried, won't it?!

Tiny choices in the end make us who we are: Intention Implementation.

After all, 1% commitment, 1% improvement every single day- there is no telling of what your future holds in store for you.

Spread your self-empowered wings.

Love and Light, Beloved Souls


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