There is something holding hands with us frequently for all day long and taking us to places we never thought, or at least that we haven’t planned in our daily schedule. It takes us from the important to the satisfactory and substitutes work minutes with entertainment hours. It's like levitating in your thoughts through a heaven of pleasures until you fall down.
Even if you are no a professional procrastinator, you surely know the sensation. It’s like starting something and letting it work in the second plane or on the background and just forgetting about it because of "that great video you found on the Internet". Sometimes it’s literally a video, but other times is a bunch of activities happening in a parallel but real universe. It’s uncomfortable, and our first plane tasks seem like keeping hiding it, "because we are having a great moment!".
Procrastination is not really the best friend of productive creativity, even though they can coexist and despite being the origin from time to time of new ideas and great inspiration. Yes, "maybe". But it also carries a lack of action and most of the time the origin of the destruction of those ideas as well. You could be right now procrastinating by reading this post about procrastination. And it feels really good! It feels productive, but the problem it’s that, it is not!
In the best of the cases, you continue with your main activity with an intermittent rhythm, but it could also mean a long-term interruption which could last for days, months or also years. Yes, the activity may be interrupted, but it's not so with the uncomfortable feeling around us. It stays there for a long time becoming more intense. The problem is, you may find another stronger activity, that provides much more pleasure than the guilt you are feeling.
Procrastination is that kind of friend who seems to be the best one at the first sight. It brings you to laugh and give you the feeling of being a great partner when living new experiences. But in reality, it doesn't care about your dreams, your future or you. You are only an excuse to have fun, and it won't be there at the difficult moments... Or maybe it will, but just to bring you distraction and pleasure, making you again to forget about the important.
Tim Urban describes it with a beautiful and illustrative example. He calls these distractions "the Instant Gratification Monkey". It's a charming character in Tim's article. In his illustrations, he comes always back to invite us to cool activities and we are so weak to say, So! But fortunately, the monkey is not the only company we have. When a deadline is approaching "The Panic Monster", a less charming character, comes to scare the little monkey and put some pressure on us in order to get things done. And as expected, when the deadline is gone, the "Instant Gratification Monkey" comes back! (You can also find a funny talk from Tim Urban for TED about procrastination here).
It’s not about taking procrastination out of our lives, but about learning to keep it under control. More than the charming monkey it's a kind of creature. Maybe a troll with whom you will be dealing with someday if you keep feeding it. It takes discipline, initiative, and a great environment to keep the focus and also some kind of self-defense training against procrastination to defeat it. Some battles will be bigger and harder than others, but you just have to keep the goal in front of you. Starting winning the little fights may be a great beginning. It could also be the first signal to overcome the big ones.
Do you procrastinate? Are you a victim of procrastination? If procrastination were a character, what would it be? How do you imagine it?