Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator

Procrastination – the one thing that’s holding all of us back from becoming a model student and getting an adequate amount of sleep. In the time it’s taken me to write this article, I’ve checked my phone at least 2000 times and watched countless Buzzfeed videos fully aware of the fact that this is supposed to be published soon. So yeah, let’s not pretend that procrastination isn’t a serious problem.

Everyone is a procrastinator whether they like it or not, with some being worse delayers than others (me). Let’s start off with what exactly a procrastinator is: a person who delays or puts things off that should have been done in a timely manner. If you find yourself falling into a bottomless void of Wikipedia entries about how the moon landings were faked, late at night on a Thursday, instead of studying for your math final in 2nd period the next morning, chances are you’re most likely a procrastinator. With finals slowly creeping upon us, now probably isn’t the best time to be delving into Twitter beef or browsing through memes for hours on end.

In the famous TED talk “Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator,” Tim Urban divides a procrastinator’s mind into three parts: the rational decision maker, the instant gratification monkey, and the panic monster. The rational decision maker’s purpose is to make rational decisions and be productive, whereas the gratification monkey’s job is to simply have carefree fun.

The instant gratification monkey is scared of one thing and one thing only: the panic monster, who comes bearing deadlines and repercussions (shudder). Coming off of a two week vacation, our instant gratification monkeys are still incessantly going bananas, trying to achieve that same happy-go-lucky thrill we had just a couple days prior. That is, until the big horrible panic monster comes along and scares away the monkey, leaving you with nothing but regret and the burden of completing a 1000-word essay due the next day.

This leads us to the obvious question, “How do I stop procrastinating and get my work done on time?”

The first step to overcome procrastination is to simply address the fact that non-procrastinators don’t exist. You’re a procrastinator. I’m a procrastinator. We’re all procrastinators, full of self-disappointment. Some of us may actually be on time with our work whereas some of us may not be as on time, to put it lightly.

The second step is to realize that delaying assignments until the very last minute not only produces shoddy work, but also the fact that you won’t achieve anything until you put in the effort required.

Urban goes on to state that there is another form of procrastination that’s usually overlooked but has an even worse long term effect on procrastinators. “There’s a second kind of procrastination that happens in situations where there is no deadline. In all of these non-deadline situations, the panic monster doesn’t show up and the effects of procrastination aren’t contained; they just extend outward forever. It’s this long term procrastination that is usually suffered quietly and privately, which can be the source of long term unhappiness and regret.”

To beat this obstacle and break the cycle of putting things off, Urban recommends taking a step back to understand that life is short and should be lived to the fullest. So that gym membership you’ve used twice this entire year? You should probably renew it today and start getting those gains!