I recently came across the epic TED talk from Tim Urban called “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator”, which as a serial procrastinator made me snort-laugh and then thoughtfully reflect on my new-found understanding of my own mysterious brain.
You see, this is exactly me. Exactly. I survived my entire school life not being able to do anything until THE NIGHT BEFORE something was due, then I would pull an all-nighter, miraculously pull something amazing from nowhere, and tiredly smile at myself the next day marvelling at my ability to perform under pressure (and perplexed as to why I couldn’t seem to create anything that good at any other time).
I survived my entire school life not being able to do anything until THE NIGHT BEFORE something was due, then I would pull an all-nighter, miraculously pull something amazing from nowhere…
Fast forward a few years and there I am… a self-employed designer stuck in the same cycle. I’d get a job, be stuck in some sort of pre-deadline-paralysis and then all in a flurry the day before I had promised it to the client (or sheepishly sometimes on the way…) the lights would come on, the creativity would flow and ‘voila’… amazing results were born.
This was my world for many years, until I reached a point that blocks of painfully unproductive days, followed by crazy sleep-deprived “panic monster” days was no longer reasonable nor sustainable… so my brain and I had a little talk.
And I came up with a solution, one that worked for both the procrastinator in me – and the other fed up part.
If I had to procrastinate, I would procrastinate with other work.
See, having been a lifelong procrastinator, it wasn’t the kind of thing I was going to be able to change overnight. So by making a deal with myself that I would procrastinate with other work was genius… it meant that at least something was getting done, and low-and-behold… my productivity went through the roof. Although I was occasionally jumping between tasks, or putting off the most important tasks for a short time, I was finally getting a consistent amount of productivity from my brain without the panic monster needing to show up.
And of course he did still show up when deadlines loomed, and allowed the miraculously bursts of creative magic when needed… but whilst I dream of a future where my brain grows out of procrastination all together, I’m happy with my new arrangement for now.
Have you found a way to overcome procrastination? Share your stories below – I’d love to hear from you!
— Katrina Voevodin, Founder | Winning By Design