Advice on Not Procrastinating

This sounds flip, but it really is an honest reflection on a zillion articles I have read about how to beat procrastination. They all seem to boil down to “just do it.” It’s as if beating alcoholism was as simple as just not drinking or beating overeating was as simple as eating less. Every article I read about being more productive focuses on the same message: just do it. Be consistent and keep it up. The problem is that this (to my ears) is saying “the way to stop procrastinating is to stop procrastinating.”

Highly successful people don’t procrastinate. They do stuff day after day. They have their consistent habits and they follow them. It doesn’t matter what your favourite habit is. It might be yoga in the morning, a workout, inbox zero, “getting things done”, a traditional to-do list, whatever. The advice is always the same. Pick some reasonable system that works for you and keep it up day after day. But, to me, the definition of not procrastinating is doing things when you’re supposed to do them. So the way to get in the habit of doing things when you’re supposed to is to get into the habit of doing things when you’re supposed to.

I love analogies. I feel like I’m on the starting line of a race. I keep crashing on the first curve and I have to start the race over. Meanwhile, here are all these articles showing me the finish line—what it will look like when I have negotiated all the curves and gotten there. And they’re showing me all the different cars and drivers who have managed it.

As a person who can’t “just do it”, I find motivational advice of “just do it” to be singularly useless. I definitely plan to beat procrastination. It’s one of those things I’m sure I’ll get around to one day.

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