One Step Closer – Procrastination The Plague Of Mankind

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Photo by Jackie Sand

Not again! No, not again this debate you might think.

“Yes tomorrow. Yes, I said tomorrow I will get to it.”

“Really? Why not now?”

“I don’t have time, I have so much to do.”

“Yes, yes I understand that. But why are you then on the phone scrolling through TikTok and Snapchat since you said you are going to work on your to-do list?”

I can’t listen to this annoying ‘go and do it now’ voice anymore, better listen to the upbeat tunes which take me to places far away from the dreadful ‘to do list’, the pressures and looming deadlines. Yes – distraction – this is my go-to place. I do deserve a break, don’t I?

And where is the big deal with all this anyway?

Is this approach stressful for me?

Yes very, but so is what I am supposed to do and so why not take the easier path of distracting myself which is arguably so much more enjoyable.

An Ancient Debate

Sounds familiar? Are you among the many of us who do procrastinate? You are certainly in good company since no one is exempt from the inclination to choose pleasures over responsibilities.

Yes, most of us do procrastinate, the question is just to what extent. Are we procrastinating here and there, or are we going further and self-sabotaging ourselves in life.

The difference is, some of us are more successful than others in combating that natural notion of wanting to postpone everything which is not fun and in deferring that instant gratification, while others are struggling daily to get a grip on it.

The ancient ‘Stoic Philosophers’ have addressed this old and dreaded topic already generations ago.

Their conclusion? Create habits and follow routines in order to remedy procrastination – so, we could say, practice self discipline.

The Roman-era Stoic philosopher Seneca once joked that the one thing fools all have in common is that they are always getting ready to live but never actually do.

You will find this quote in Ryan Holiday’s superbly written article on ‘How to Beat Procrastination Like a Stoic Philosopher‘ – absolutely worthwhile to read should you or someone you know battle with this. Holiday describes seven anti-procrastination tactics rooted in ancient philosophy.

There we go, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus were already talking about the ‘curse’ of procrastination generations ago, and offering a step by step guide to combat this daily challenge.

So it looks like not much has changed.

Today the market is flooded with self help books offering programs written for the modern man and woman.

Among the many authors out there some take it even further and beyond the threshold of acceptable ‘salon language’ in order to appeal to a wider range of readers, as does Gary John Bishop for example with his book ‘Unfu*k Yourself’ and calls it ‘Urban Philosophy’. In his New York Times Bestseller he advocates “Get out of your head and into your life.”

What path are you on? Have you developed your own method for dealing with procrastination, or are you following someone specific who has a good approach which works for you.

No matter who’s philosophy and suggestions we follow, in order to beat the odds, we must persevere step by step, action after action, day after day asking ourselves in every moment of time: who is in charge in my life? Is it myself or is it my ‘distractable mind’?

As Shunryū Suzuki a Japanese Zen master put it

“It is quite usual for us to gather pieces of information from various sources, thinking in this way to increase our knowledge. Actually, following this way we end up not knowing anything at all… Instead of gathering knowledge, you should clear your mind. If your mind is clear, true knowledge is already yours.”

― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

“Wait, I thought you are publishing your article now?”

“Yes, yes in a minute.”

“I will get to it – I have to check my Snapchat first!”

Not again! No, not again this debate you might think.

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