Just Snap Out Of It
Right now I am working on perfecting a personal trick to evade procrastination. I call it, “Snap out of it.” It has worked for me for the past few hours. Let’s hope it works for the remaining of my life. Let me explain how it works.
Every time I procrastinate as in either not doing a task that is scheduled for or doing something else of lesser importance at a time not conducive to productivity, I realize it. I know what I am doing and I know what I should be doing. But often, I keep doing the thing that is abetting my procrastination. I find it difficult to switch my mind into the other task that I actually must get done. But I think I have figured out the best way around that. Or at least, today it feels like it is the best way. It’s as simple as snapping out of the procrastination as quickly as you recognize that you are contemplating procrastination. Let me explain with an example and then I will try to reason it out.
So today I woke up at a reasonable time, around 8AM, to a nice warm room and immediately had to use the bathroom at which point I started to watch Conan videos on YouTube. This was the beginning of an endless loop of related Conan videos. I climbed back into bed after the bathroom (although this time I sat up in bed; I didn’t lay back down) and continued to watch Conan videos for another hour. At this time, it was 9:20AM or so. As soon as I realized I spent way longer than I should have on YouTube, I decided to make a quick tea. But it wasn’t that hard to snap out of the Conan video stream because I could watch while making my tea. So I took my phone with me, made some tea, and had a small breakfast all while watching Conan. At this point it is 10:30 AM, I finished my breakfast, I have other things to do for the day, but here I am still watching Conan videos on YouTube. I kept clicking one more saying that that will be the last one but have had been saying that for the past 6 videos. Now I realize it’s 11:20AM. I have been on a YouTube binge for more than 3 Hours. But I said to myself “OK. Alright. This will be my last one.” Watched about 2 minutes of the 8 minute “last” video and right then and there I started thinking about which video to watch next and decided… “You know what. I need to snap out of it.” And before I could convince myself otherwise or continue to reason myself into watching the rest of the video and one after that, I closed the YouTube browser and got up from the spot I was watching and walked outside. I snapped out of it. I made such a quick decision that I didn’t give enough time for my pleasure-seeking mind to retaliate with an argument. I think this works. Let me explain the reasoning.
Often, procrastination is due to avoiding a daunting task, anxiety towards said task, or a large time period before said task must be completed. In all cases, we avoid what we have to do and do something that is easier or more pleasurable for certain desired short-term outcomes. It often doesn’t end up being worth it. And because of that we may not even properly execute the task that was being put off or sometimes may not finish it at all. This is a huge mental burden as it causes undue stress and is very crippling for self-esteem and confidence. But I believe, that in every decision you make between procrastinating and not procrastinating, there is a time delay in which one side of your brain is arguing with the other. The positive is telling you to complete the task and get it over with. The negative is telling you that there is time or that you’ll have more fun doing this other thing. There’s an internal dialogue happening. During this dialogue, your mind is weighing the consequences of either choice. Here, I say, don’t think. If you let the dialogue happen, the side of your brain that is telling you to procrastinate will win. That side is enormously powerful because it guarantees you short-term fun. As humans, it is very difficult to see long-term. And for that reason the short-term pleasurable outcome is often sought out. But this wouldn’t happen if you didn’t let that dialogue happen.
In any scenario related to productivity or procrastination, you know which decision is the right and wrong one. You just do. Everyone knows the thing they are supposed to do. But often, in my case as well, we talk ourselves out of the thing that we are supposed to do and wander towards the things we want to do or things that will make us feel good immediately. Stop the talk is what I’m trying to get at. Don’t give the part of your mind that is trying to convince you to procrastinate any time to speak. As soon as you realize that you have to do something more productive or something that is essential in that moment, within a blink of an eye, switch your mind to that essential task and leave whatever task or action that you were distracting yourself with. Do this instantly. The quicker you do it, the harder it is for the evil part of your mind to convince you otherwise.
As you start removing the conversations of should I do it now versus should I do it later from your head, you will automatically start becoming more productive. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be productive and work in every living minute but it does mean that you are focusing on and performing that which requires your current attention and is essential to you in some way. So I say, the best way to fight procrastination and lead a life of productivity is to simply snap out of it. Remove that inner-dialogue. As soon as you realize that dialogue is happening, stop thinking. Go to do what you have to do and don’t look back.
As I experiment with this more, I will update this article. If you find anything useful with this article or have any tips related to this topic, please share.