As an accomplished practitioner of Advanced Procrastination, I take exception to a recent article published by BBC Worklife. The offending missive is entitled, “Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time.” Here’s the point at which its author and I part perspectival ways:
Procrastination is an issue with managing our emotions, not our time. The task we’re putting off is making us feel bad – perhaps it’s boring, too difficult or we’re worried about failing – and to make ourselves feel better in the moment, we start doing something else, like watching videos.
Au contaire. While our emotions may well, indeed, need to be managed, there’s a yawning gap between effect and cause here. Allow me to elucidate.
Who’s on First?
The fact that a task we’re putting off is making us feel bad (effect) is the result or our having elected to take on tasks that result in our feeling bad (cause). Consequently, procrastination is neither an issue of managing time nor an issue of managing our emotions; although, wasted time and undesirable emotional repercussions are undeniable effects.
The truth is that if said task is boring, too difficult, or causing us to worry about failing, those are clear indications of the fact that we’ve chosen the wrong task. And life, after all is about choices. So, here are my recommendations for eliminating procrastination or managing it effectively:
- Don’t become a pilot if you’re afraid of heights.
- Don’t become a veterinarian if you don’t like animals.
- Don’t become a novelist if you don’t want to write books.
- Don’t become an architect if you don’t want to design buildings.
- Don’t become an accountant if you don’t want to crunch numbers.
- Don’t become an engineer if you don’t want to … uh … whatever it is engineers do.
- Don’t become a mortician if you prefer to have your customers be a little more conversant.
- Don’t become a proctologist if you don’t like … well … never mind.
Follow the Logic
By the logic above, I didn’t become a house painter, a professional wrestler, a mob hitman, a skydiver, an electrician, a trapeze artist, the goalie for a darts team, a spelunker, a lion tamer, or a proctologist. So far, things seem to be working out pretty well. I manage my time effectively and enjoy fairly good emotional health.
You may not choose to apply the same logic. If you don’t, you should expect to become an unhappy procrastinator.