Saturday, July 11, 2009

Procrastinator vs Do-er

How often do we procrastinate? How often do we drag the things we need to do and regretted it in the end? I am a pro procrastinator myself. Pushing off important things to a few days before the deadline is always my personal forte. Not that I am too proud of it through. Many times, I hate myself for it, often regretting why I didn’t do it earlier. Then I will blames myself for being so lazy that I have to face the consequences later.

Did you face similar inner dialogues before? Well… As you can see, you are not alone.

Such self reprimanding can be very bad for self-esteem. It came to a time that I would just avoid big and important projects totally to prevent myself from procrastinating again which obviously lead to no where. It seriously depleted my confidence in getting things done. It lowered my performance and how people perceive me too. Luckily and finally, I got fed up with the consequences and began my search on how to overcome procrastination. Luckily, there are great deals of information out there in both library and the Internet. Here is an interesting finding which I get out from the research.

Procrastinators are usually perfectionist. They prefer to finish everything at one go and in total perfection. However, this mindset also makes the task seems more difficult and daunting than it originally is. Therefore, many times they will just sit on the task, waiting for a good time until it becomes too late. With fire burning on their asses, it almost guaranteed a not so perfect outcome and then they will start hating themselves for it. As a result, it becomes natural for procrastinator to avoid big tasks as they afraid that they will fail again (to them, not perfect is equal to fail also). This is the way of thinking that is usually done subconsciously without them realizing their thinking process.

This study is a wake up call for me. Most of the time, I would want to finish everything at one go. Finish once and for all is the motto which I held for a long time in my life. It is undeniable that there are occasions which this mentality helped me in freeing up some of my time but usually, it left me drained due to the prolonged hours trying to get the task done at one go. I did it so frequently that eventually, I dreaded doing them anymore. Thinking about the after effect turned me off totally. I rather spent my time doing other ‘fun’ things or just relaxing. This is where the viscous cycle will occur. Procrastinate, regret, blame, motivate to do earlier, remember the tiredness and procrastinate again.

On the other hand, Do-ers are people who will get into actions regardless of how much can they complete. They will disseminate the task into small segments and keep doing them till completion. It is actually a better stress free method. Do-ers jump into tasks immediately starting with small steps. They adopt the essence of ‘The Great Wall of China was built, one brick at a time’.

Let's put the differences into a scenario. For instance, John will like to clear up his room which is in a total mess. He has a strong desire to clear it up as it is getting pretty unsightly. Therefore, he is all fired to get the room cleared ASAP.

Procrastinator’s thinking process
‘I am ready to clean up the room. Hmm.... It will require a lot of time and effort since there are so many things to clear. I shall do it when I have more hours on hand.’ The perfect timing never arrives as there always seemed to have other more important things to. By the time John is ready to do it; he often finds it too late and schedules the cleaning to another day. The same thought keeps recurring in his head, as the task is just to daunting and time consuming. John is always able to find reasons to do other more 'important' stuffs first.

Do-er’s thinking process
There will be a significant difference in the thinking process. John will start dividing the whole room into segments to clean. For example, he will decide to do the drawer first for this week. He will not touch on anything else if he does not feel like it. Once he achieves his goal, he can choose to stop and not feel guilty for not finishing everything. He even starts seeing himself to be competent and finds that the work is not so hard after all. This will motivate him to do it again as he can see the difference in the room even if it is just a small area. In the progress, he becomes more and more motivated as he sees the room becomes neater and neater and realizes that the goal is attainable Few weeks later, we will find the do-er's room cleared and the procrastinator's room untouched (it may get more messy as he thinks he can afford to mess it up since he is going to clear sooner or later). We will find the do-er’s face grinning and feeling so proud of himself while the procrastinator grouching, claiming that he does not seem to be able to find time to do anything. He will then start blaming everyone and everything that seemingly appeared as a cause for his procrastination.

Personally now, I am applying more of a do-er mindset and it is amazing seeing how much things can be done within a short time. It is relatively easy because it is totally our personal choice to be a procrastinator or a do-er. No one is born a procrastinator or a do-er. We just have to be conscious about the different type of mindsets and apply the one which you preferred. It is a matter of getting something done even if it is just a small percentage. There is no need to have a perfect outcome. Ironically, by trying not to be so perfect will usually give you a nearly perfect result in the end. As you get more time to work on the project, you have less stress; allow more creativity and more time to revise your work.

Till next time

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