It's Saturday morning you look out the window and its raining and after having breakfast you think to yourself "today is the day I tackle that coding project, but it's too early let me watch some news then I'll get to it..." So you watch the morning news and your significant other comes with a hot cup of cocoa and a small blanket. You both start talking about how bad things are in the world and before you know it, 3 hours have passed. As you are watching TV a reminder of a repeat of your favorite show pops up on the screen and you think to yourself "I know I got to go but I can't afford to miss this episode, I need to know what happened..." Again you put it off. After two hours you feel sleepy and decide to take a nap telling yourself that you'll do it in the afternoon.
Sure enough when you get up from a good slumber you prepare yourself to start on that project. You sit by your desk and open that YouTube tutorial but then you see in your feed that they have dropped new movie trailers about 19 min ago and you want to be the first to like and comment, so the cycle continues. I think you know what happens from here.
Postponing, putting it off, the "I'll get to it later", the "tomorrow is still another day", the "it's not due now", whatever you want to call it procrastination is like a warm bed on a cold day, it is always welcoming and comforting. Even though we may be comfortable with it, we should remember that it is like having a chocolate meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tongue will love its taste but the rest of you will suffer in-time. Procrastination is a silent time killer. So why do we put off projects that needs to be done?
Why are we procrastinating?
One reason we do this is because for the most part putting something off is not detrimental to us. For example you haven't started on that project because the world will not end if you don't. So you say "I'll do better next time". But that thought right there is a beginning of a losing battle. How so? First it implants the spirit of laziness which when it becomes a habit it will affect other areas of life. Second it encourages a mediocre approach to life. Some say they work better when under pressure. What they really mean is that, they have mastered the art of shortcuts. No one produces a high quality product or service when pressure is mounting on them. Have you ever heard anyone who worked more long hours to meet a deadline be like "that was awesome, we should do that again", or a client who tipped more because they were under pressure to pay? Of course not, so to avoid unnecessary anxiety we should do today what needs to be done today.
Another reason we put off things is because at times we suffer from the "me-syndrome". It's a real disease (don't google it), were we think things and people revolve around us so it ends up becoming a "what I want" scenario. When one is learning to code or has a coding project that he is working on but is in the habit of thinking that it's all about him, that mentality will affect his work flow with the team and by extension the clients. Some people have lost job opportunities because of being late which is a symptom of procrastination.
The third reason we might postpone something is the feeling of inadequacy. Rather than risking the possibility of failure or a poorly done job, we put off the task indefinitely. The fear of criticism prevents us from starting or continuing a project. We may reason that the responsibilities and the accountability is beyond our ability. So what's the cure?
How to Combat Procrastination?
I suggest 2 things. The first is to think about how will this project benefit the next person? This type of mentality produces a feel good emotion which in turn motivates us to help others succeed. Think about all the open source projects out there. At some point they were unknown but because those involved saw the potential of benefiting other people, they continued working and made their projects live. Today billions are benefiting from open source projects whether we are aware or not. So our doing what we should do at the time we should do it will benefit us and others in a positive way.
The second suggestion is the little and often method. This means everyday you do something little towards your project. It will reinforce the importance of what you are doing and also adds value with the progression of time. Another benefit is that it will build a habit of being on time and the needed resilience for future projects.
We should see procrastination as a curable disease and be willing to exert ourselves for the benefit of others. Thanks, see you soon...