TO DO LIST MONDAY
1.) Set alarm for 730am – wake up at crack of noon
2.) Drink coffee, make To Do List, then watch 7 back-to-back episodes of
3.) Walk past mountain of laundry, avert eyes
4.) Obsess over noxious fumes inhaled at construction site on 77th and 3rd
5.) Compare myself to Alison, then feel terrible for 2 hours
6.) Attempt 2012 taxes for 10 seconds then watch 6 Nurse Jackies
7.) Assume everyone in Tuesday Night Yoga hates me
8.) Stare at vacuum for 20 minutes then buy $60 worth of crap on EBay
9.) Post video on Facebook of cat drinking water
10.) Berate myself for half hour for being a lazy-ass, then feel shitty rest of day
In this vibrant city brimming with opportunity, procrastination is a postmodern issue that appears to be on its way to becoming a serious epidemic . Perhaps it’s the explosion of technological advances, gaming black holes, workplace reshufflings or a host of other potential causes. Whatever the case, scientific studies are now suggesting that procrastination affects up to 20% of adults in the United States. Close to 95% of those affected would give anything to conquer it.
Definitions vary for this pesky beast but, to build on its Latin origin, pro means forward or in favor of – and crastinus means tomorrow. Basically we all know and understand procrastination to be the delaying or putting off tasks and lately our collective understanding is that procrastination is a bad thing. In fact, throughout history, it has been widely considered a serious human failing. So if procrastination is so horrendous why do so many of us do it and why then is Science just now getting around to examining this crucial human dilemma? Has science itself also been procrastinating?
WHAT CAUSES PROCRASTINATION?
According to scientific studies, there are many possible causes: Feeling overwhelmed, impulsiveness, task aversion, perfectionism, poor time management, anxiety, depression or even just a general lack of energy, discipline and motivation. Whatever the case, the results are all still the same – a large surly invisible creature has plopped himself down on your living room floor and he’s not going anywhere. He is an unwanted, uninvited guest and you can hear him from the bedroom and smell him from the kitchen. What is a New Yorker to do? Well, as a cognitive-behavioral therapist-in-training, I have run into this big, fat, pain-in-the-hind quarters a number of times. There really is no quick fix for chronic procrastination but here are a couple of quick tips to address the procrast monsters on the more moderate side of the spectrum.
HOW TO TAME THE PROCRASTASAURUS
1.) FEED HIM a healthy meal – anything green, lots of protein - avoid sugar, bread, bagels, wheat products
2.) WATER HIM – drink a huge glass of cold water – notice any difference in your energy level?
3.) EXERCISE HIM – Try a quick 3-5 minutes of exercise- cardio preferably-dancing, running, jumping jacks, aerobics etc.
4.) CLEAN THE CAGE – clean something – one thing – clean the kitchen sink, Vacuum the living room, make your bed, etc
5.) GROOM HIM – Take a shower, get dressed up (as if going to work) put your shoes on then tackle one task that’s been eating at you for days!
6.) REWARD HIM – Do TWO things from your procrast list then treat yourself to your favorite energy-draining procrastination-laced activity – Netflix, surf the web, Funny or Die, Facebook, EBay, Season finale of Shameless, etc.
7.) FIND A BUDDY – to be accountable to…or start your own procrastination meetup!
The bottom line is that putting things off may feel good at the time but ultimately you’ll feel crappy in the long run. So, instead of heading off to the kitchen to get some potato chips, or spending another 5 hours doing God knows what on the Internet – why not sit down, make a list of three tasks you’ve been putting off and take a crack at one of them?