My daughter has difficulty with completing her homework each night. She’s more than capable, she just doesn’t like doing the work. She also doesn’t like lies or liars. In fact for the longest time she didn’t like many of my jokes because they were predicated on some form of lie, but now she understands the difference between lies for the sake of a joke and lies told in an attempt to deceive someone in a harmful way. I still don’t think she gets “white lies” but I’m not pushing her on that regard.
She’d had a bad day with her homework one day, and her mother and I asked her why she hadn’t finished. ‘Procrastination,’ was her honest answer, but then she blew it off like procrastinating was just something that happened to people, like traffic or allergies. So in an attempt to get her over her homework hump I told her something I thought would get her moving or at least thinking.
“Procrastination is a lie,” I said, and as soon as I said it, I believed it to be true, because it is.
She was thoroughly confused with what I said. She thought I was calling her a liar because she used procrastination as her excuse. No, that wasn’t the case I assured her, and I laid out my reasoning.
Procrastination is a lie. It is a lie we tell ourselves. The lie suggests: “I will be happier if I don’t do this now and do it later.” “I will feel less burdened if I don’t do this now.” “I will do this later.” “It will be easier if I do this later.”
Those are all lies.
If procrastination tells you that you will be happier or less burdened if you do something later, that’s a lie. You might feel an instant sense of relief, but deep down inside you know that the task lies just over the horizon. The task becomes a distraction and worrying about the distraction or the impending task becomes a burden that you may feel. The truth of the matter is that if you simply buckle down and complete the task as soon as you can, when you have completed it, you will have no distractions, no limits to the remainder of your time. Burdens are shackles and true happiness comes with freedom.
“I will do this later,” is my favorite lie to myself. I always get more accomplished if I simply do something as soon as I think about it – assuming I have the time. There is one caviot to this however. One needs to ensure that s/he is not procrastinating on a harder, less enjoyable task by taking on a simpler or more enjoyable one. I often do this, and I never complete any of those tasks. If I focus on getting things done and avoid putting off tasks as they come, I get more done. Later is a lie. Now is a house in which truth dwells.
“It will be easier if I do this later,” is a lie that can occasionally be true. Unless something is literally keeping you from a task, finishing will usually be quicker if you simply start something as soon as possible. Sometimes some event happens that makes the task much easier. I encounter this on occasion at work. An individual might read email and add information regarding a task I have assigned to me. That information often helps me narrow the scope of my research and achieve completion of the task more quickly, but in reality this happens less often than not. Most problems I solve at work are the result of my starting from square one and working to find the solution. Sometimes additional information is a distraction, and until you’ve done the work to understand the full scope of your problem, the information is just more junk to sort through on your way to understanding. Therefore most often, it has been my experience that one should start work as soon as possible. If new information comes along that makes the task simpler or more correct, then give thanks for your good fortune and get the task done, but if you wait and new information never comes, then you have simply wasted valuable time for no good reason. The possibility of help is usually a lie. You can only count on yourself to get things done.
I’m sure there are more lies that procrastination tells. If you think of any, please share in the comments.
© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.