I was thinking the other day about the reasons I put things off; there’s always a reason for not doing things straight away, isn’t there? – it’s boring – I really need to concentrate on it and I’m not in the mood – it means picking up a phone and speaking to someone and I don’t feel up to it just now – yada yada yada – you know the feeling.
And the more you put it off, especially if it’s something you know has to be done, the more it sits there in the back of your mind, slowly and sneakily encroaching on your other thoughts. Sometimes you might, feeling defiant, turn your back on it by doing something else, so you can’t think about it anymore. But suddenly it prods you in the back – “oh hello, did you forget about me?” – and your heart sinks because you know it’s not going away anytime soon.
It reminds me of when my dog Marley wants his morning walk. He haunts my footsteps, brushing round my legs if I walk away from him to do some task completely irrelevant to his need to be out in the fresh air. If I sit down, he comes and sits at my feet – on them, sometimes – and looks pleadingly into my face. If I don’t look at him, he shuffles impatiently and stamps his front paws on the floor.
If that doesn’t work, the noises start – imperceptibly at first, a soft pale noise in his throat, a tiny cluster of pleading whimpers. No deal. I’m busy sitting down. Drinking my coffee/staring out at the garden/filing my nails is more important than walkies, mate.
He ramps up the offensive – more whimpers, louder this time, then a deep noisy, impatient sigh. A beat passes – my last chance to snap out of deliberate avoidance behaviour.
When the barking begins, loud, aggressive and much more invasive – “Get up and TAKE ME OUT!” I have to make a decision because the noise is deafening and procrastination is no longer an option.
The thing is, I know he has to have his daily morning walk – so why do I always wait for the barking to start?
What’s keeping you from getting things started?
And watch this very funny video – Inside the mind of a master procrastinator – Tim Urban