The Procrastination Trap

There’s a saying: “Why put off to tomorrow what you can put off altogether?” It’s a riff off the more popular: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can get done today.”

In the age of doing so much, staying on all the time, busy schedules and busier inboxes, it’s easy to procrastinate.

What I’ve realized is, the longer you put it off, the less likely it is to get done. Regardless of your intentions.

There is a cumulative power in putting this off, and two days postponed is greater than one plus one: it compounds.

Of course, this applies to work without deadlines. That’s a different form of procrastination, and any of us who have jobs or went to school recognize putting things off until the deadline looms.

Most of this insidious form of procrastination – putting off until it’s a vague notion in the back of your mind – spring up from personal projects. Things you might actually like doing. Yet, it put them off for the more “important” things.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to reprioritize.

Opposing views

I was making my way through Dalio’s book Principles, and a passage stuck out to me:

When two people believe opposite things, chances are that one of them is wrong.

Principles, Ray Dalio, pg. 190

This led me down a rabbit hole of thought, and I’m not convinced of the premise. For every belief I have, there is someone who will disagree with me. But it’s because belief isn’t a statement of factual information, and maybe I’m just caught up in the wording.

Facts can be proved and disproved. Beliefs are much harder to handle in that regard, and while Dalio suggests a doctrine of thoughtful disagreement to get to the bottom of a problem, to “find out which view is true”, I can’t help but think that every belief is true, while at the same time it may not be.

This duality of truth/untruth in belief causes many disagreements. The book is about business principles, and I can see where this methodology of thoughtful disagreement can work exceptionally well for deciding matters where differing viewpoints may crop up – marketing practices, manufacturing, product development, and investment strategies. Beliefs in that sense will have some form of comparable quantitative data to support or contradict them.

But beliefs that revolve around more fundamental human conditions – religion, politics, life purpose, etc. – these are much more difficult to quantify. Likely that Dalio intended to avoid that train of thought in this section, but I felt like getting my head around it anyway.

 

Letting go of disappointment

Sometimes it won’t go the way you intend it. Sometimes you’ll make a mistake (or three). You’ll miss a deadline, you’re overestimate or under-deliver. There are a thousand-and-one ways to screw up. And at some point you’ll make that misstep.

But, it’s okay. It happens. More often than not it’s a revoverable misstep, and if it isn’t – it’s not the end of the world. No one has screwed up so badly that the world ceased to exist, because we are still here.

So let it go. Move on. It’s okay. There’s always tomorrow.

What we don’t understand

In the early stages of a panic fear takes over. A fear from not knowing much, of anything, for sure. The more information we have regarding a thing, the less fearful we become.

It comes from being huddled together in the dark, not seeing what happens just beyond the tree line. Once fire illuminated the shadows we were able to conquer those fears.

But as we are the ancestors of those early fire-starters, so too are our fears ancestors of those early shadows. It is important to light the night, and shine upon the unknown, to diminish our fears.

Impostor Syndrome

You want to know something? I don’t know what I’m doing.

Just about every day I ask myself twenty, thirty, fifty times, “What do I want to do? Where do I want to go?”

Sometimes that means what will I write. Other times, it’s where I want to live. Or work. Or play. And I can never answer in the long term.

There are times I feel guilty writing this blog because someone could read it. And, feeling the effects of impostor syndrome, I feel that the reader could have spent time reading something more valuable.

Yes, I try to provide value here. Tips I’ve found helpful, or stories I wanted to share. Places and things that were meaningful to me, or insights I’ve come across. But at the end of the day, it’s just me and my computer. or my notebook, and I don’t have a clue.

Thing is, no one does. Some people make more money or lead what we would call interesting lives. But they are just as lost as the rest of us, searching for answers in their own way.

I write here to practice writing. I write here to be present with something. I write here because it forces me to pay attention to the world so that I have something to write about.

But the hardest things to write are those things hit close to home. Admitting that I don’t know what I’m doing. Saying to myself, and whoever’s reading this, that it’s okay. It’s okay to not know. We’re not meant to know all the answers. It’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.

Making history

History is not made by those trying to make history. Rather, it is crafted by those trying to improve a problem.

The Wright Brothers saw the flying contraptions of the 19th Century and wondered, “What if they could be controlled while in the air?”

Thus, beginning with the Wright Glider in 1902, airplane controls saw the ability to manipulate roll, pitch, and yaw. They weren’t trying to become historical aviators. They wanted to fix a problem they identified in aviation, and they did.

Revisitations

There’s a collection of things that I intended to return to at some point. An inbox with flagged messages dating back to 2013. Folders with articles and scraps of papers and clippings from newspapers and magazines. All of it held my interest long enough for me to say, “I’ll return to this.” And yet, the stream keeps coming and revisiting any of it seems, at best, questionable.

And yet, there’s the possibility that something in there will spur something here. So I hold onto it.

Some book I read suggested that you should keep a tickler file, containing those things of interest to you that you may want to return to someday – given you have the time. Just make sure you make the time.

Taking it slow

Some things are meant to be fast. Races, for one. Even given the wisdom of “slow and steady…”, one must have the speed to win a race.

Manufacturing relies on the fastest possible systems to create the best possible good. When speed increases result in a decrease in quality, they know they’ve gone too far.

But other things are better, even only enjoyed, if done slowly. I’m reminded of the Japanese tea ceremony, which can clock in at about four hours.

Speeding it up would ruin the ceremonial aspect of it. It would be sipping a Lipton Brisk purchased at the Circle K. It wouldn’t be the same.

So when pushing through to the finish, be sure to ask yourself whether this would be better served by taking it just a little slower.