Procrastination Feels So Good
We don’t talk about procrastination enough because we’re not supposed to enjoy it. I’ve met people with all kinds of different goals but I’ve never had anyone tell me that they want to procrastinate more. People don’t reveal on their deathbed that they wish they had procrastinated more.
But consider this, if procrastination felt terrible while we were doing it we just wouldn’t do it. The joy comes from the relief of NOT having to do something that we aren’t in the mood to do.
Procrastination feels good because we think we are avoiding a feeling that we don’t want to experience. It’s procrastination logic.
I’m going to break down a procrastination episode I had this morning:
- I read my schedule and I am supposed to write this email.
- I think it will be hard because I need to figure out exactly what to say.
- I feel resistance.
- I’m suddenly doing Wordle.
- I feel the relief of not having to do the email and feel comfortable.
It was the prediction of how writing the email would feel that brought on the resistance, but I didn’t think beyond that.
Are Procrastinators Happier?
I didn’t spend any time thinking about how I would feel later on if I didn’t write the email. I didn’t consider how it would feel later on if the email was already written. And I’m not sure why my subconscious always assumes that I will be in the mood to do something “later” because that’s never the case.
This is why the joys of procrastination don’t last. It felt so good in the moment to get out of doing the thing that requires more effort, but it was always just a short-term mood fix.
Imagine if we talked through our procrastination decisions? It would sound ridiculous:
“I’m going to put off writing this email because I think it will take more effort than I would like to exert right now. I’m not going to really consider how I will feel later when I’ve done six hours of calls but I will probably want to exert the effort then. I’m especially not going to consider how it would feel to have this email finished and sent by 9 am* because I just want to zone out and play Wordle.“
While writing an email takes some thought, it does not take a Herculean effort.
Procrastination is a Coping Mechanism
Our brains can be such drama queens to get out of making an effort if we think we can get away with it. And there’s nothing wrong with procrastination. Unless you wish you had more time.
For example, what could I do with the extra 15 minutes if I decided to forgo the joy of procrastinating on this email?
- Chloe could get a longer walk.
- I could do the Wordle later when I feel good having done the email (and I would actually enjoy it more then).
- I could take a break and read later, and that feels so decadent during the weekday!
- I could do one of the many things that I feel like I don’t have time for… most of which I would consider more valuable than Wordle.
Less joy now means more joy later. We all know that intellectually, but it’s different when we take the time to think it through. Fifteen minutes this morning isn’t going to change my life, but 15 minutes a day adds up to over 60 hours a year, not including weekends! And let’s be honest, sometimes procrastination is more than 15 minutes a day.
Why Does it Feel Good to Get Things Done?
I spent years trying to procrastinate less and failing, but over the last few years, my habits have changed dramatically. I can show you what works. The Kickstartology Alignment tools work because they train you to catch yourself and consider what you want in the moment (often to do the easy thing) and compare it to what you want long-term. The tools help you make better decisions more easily, without feeling like you are giving up the most joyous moments of procrastination. You start to use that time for the really good stuff that lasts.
So consider this, is the joy of procrastinating worth it, or is it cutting into what you really want?*
*Sometimes procrastination comes at the cost of figuring out what we really want… I’ve been there, it’s way more fun on the other side of that.
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