Why Do I Procrastinate?

Why do humans procrastinate? More specifically, why do I procrastinate? I’ve read several books and many articles about procrastination and how to beat it, but I still catch myself procrastinating far too regularly.

In fact, I can distract myself effortlessly and leave important tasks unfinished as I peruse headlines, skim social media, get pulled into chats, or any number of other activities that are little more than time-wasting.

But what may be most frustrating is that I can distract myself with work that is actually important. If I have a plan to accomplish a specific goal by the end of the day, I will often read an email or speak to someone and am reminded about something else that’s important to accomplish, but was unscheduled. After spending 30 minutes doing something that should have been scheduled a few days ahead, I feel frustrated with myself.

But, it doesn’t feel like I’m procrastinating because I needed to get that other task done too. But without adhering to a schedule the efforts are scattered, inconsequential, dalliances with little purpose. And I’m no closer to accomplishing the goal I set for the day…

To fight against this tendency to do “important” but unscheduled work I wrote myself a mantra to keep me focused. There was a lot of time invested in writing it to keep it simple, yet still have the mental, emotional, inspirational impact that I wanted. Here it is:

Set goals, work hard, and always have a plan. Be nice and help others. Take care of the asset. And remember to have a little fun.

The first sentence is to remind me to A) set a goal every day, every week etc. and, B) to work hard to reach my goal(s), and C) make a plan so my effort isn’t wasted. Make a plan and stick to it.

The second sentence is about being a good human. Be polite. Help other people when you have the opportunity. It can be as simple as helping someone across a street, or holding someone’s coffee while they put down a backpack, purse, child, etc.

Three, take care of the asset! Eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise. Do those things that the body requires so it will be ready when it’s needed. We only have so many days in our bodies, so we need to use them well.

Finally, enjoy life. Schedule time into your calendar to be with your wife or husband, your children, your extended family, your friends. Find a hobby! When you’re not working to pay bills, find something that re-energizes you. Get lost in a hobby so when the day comes that you can “retire” you will have something to keep your mind active.

It’s a work in progress and I try every day to stick to the plan. Some days I’m more successful than others, but I try every day. Do you have a mantra, phrase, inspirational quote, or something to help you get or stay focused? Let me know in the comments.

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