Procrastination: The Other Blog Killer
Originally Published: April 2, 2021
It’s been over two weeks since I launched this site and published my first post about Imposter Syndrome. At that time, I had felt really good about overcoming my mental challenges and finally getting my blog going. I thought to myself, “I got one blog post in the bag, and plenty of ideas for more, so it shouldn’t hurt to take a short break. Just gonna take a day off, and then get right on to that next post.”
Well, as I said, here we are, two weeks later, and I’m just now writing this second post. It was originally going to be on another topic, which I will still write about eventually, but I wanted to first talk about a realization I had. As I kept putting off writing, I realized I’d forgotten about another mental challenge besides Imposter Syndrome that has been a huge barrier to my blog writing career: Procrastination. It’s a challenge I easily fall victim to, and it too is responsible for the many failed attempts I’ve had at starting a blog in the past.
During the last two weeks, I just so happened to come across a TED talk by a guy named Tim Urban titled “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” (video linked below). Tim related his experiences with procrastination, and explained in an entertaining, metaphorical way how the brain of a procrastinator works.
He explained that there are 3 parts of the brain that make up a procrastinator’s system: the Rational Decision Maker, the Instant Gratification Monkey, and the Panic Monster. The Rational Decision Maker is the one who‘s thinking about the future, and wants to get up and get things done. He’s often thwarted, however, by the Instant Gratification Monkey, who lives entirely in the now and just wants to have fun. There’s only one thing that can make the Instant Gratification Monkey go away, and that’s the Panic Monster. The Panic Monster comes out when it senses a deadline is approaching, and chases the Instant Gratification Monkey away. This allows the Rational Decision Maker to take back over, and the burst of work procrastinators do to hit their deadlines occurs. As Tim points out, this is a messy system, but it works.
Since a procrastinator relies on the Panic Monster to chase the Instant Gratification Monkey away, and the Panic Monster only wakes up when there’s a deadline approaching, the system breaks when there isn’t a deadline. There’s nothing to stop the Instant Gratification Monkey from pushing the Rational Decision Maker aside forever. As blogging is something I have a strong desire to do, I need to find a way to wake my Panic Monster up.
My plan, then, to overcome procrastination is to set deadlines for publishing my blog posts. By giving myself a time limit, I hope to motivate myself and get my Panic Monster to wake up. As these deadlines will be personally set and somewhat arbitrary, there’s still a high probability of me not meeting them. There needs to be a consequence for me not writing the posts, otherwise I’ll be more than willing to not keep to my goal. To help with this, I’m going to do regular checkins with members of my family and a few close friends. This will make me accountable to others besides myself, so I’ll be much more likely to follow through. The frequency of posts will be an indicator of whether my plan is a failure or a success (here’s hoping it’s the latter).