Mindful Moments: Stories and Lessons of Procrastination

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Getting past pride, perfectionism, and fear.

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Fear plays a big part in procrastinating. According to Burka and Yuen, authors of Procrastination: why you do it, what to do about it, people use procrastination as an oddball way to maintain their sense of self-worth. The thinking goes like this: by procrastinating, we avoid feeling like a failure even when we do fail. “‘Well, I could have done better if I’d started sooner and given myself more time to do it.'” And even extremely successful people can be afraid of failure.

Why such an elaborate ruse to keep oneself prideful? Because when we’re too focused on being judged or even judging our own results then it is easy to become afraid of those results. Or so perfectionist that getting started seems daunting. It can be easier to put something off than start something that could result in failure.

When we think through the consequences of our actions, us humans are what economists call “risk averse“. We’re naturally more concerned with doing badly than we are excited about doing well. Decisions about starting new projects should therefore not be considered as a strictly rational process.

So is that it? Is it inevitable to be paralyzed with fear and never get anything done? Of course not! We can value the work that we do in and of itself. Failure and success are really beside the point. It’s the effort that we put into the work that we do that gets put on the scale at the end of our lives.

And how can we get reasonable feedback about our time management without going down the rabbit hole of cognitive dissonance? Well, that’s why ProcrasDonate‘s free browser add-on uses positive icons as sorting buttons. It’s why we include an unobtrusive (but ever present) procrastination meter at the top of a user’s browser. Together these empowerment tools create a graphical sense of real-time procrastination data without being intimidating. Likewise the weekly updates with uplifting quotes!

Procrastinating to protect our sense of pride? That’s just fear wearing a monkey‘s dress.

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Written by clayward

March 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Posted in resources, theory, tracking

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