I’ve posted the “Procrastination” episode from Lev Yilmaz’s “Tales of Mere Existence” before. Here it is again for those who need reminding:
In it the cartoon character representing the author spends a busy day getting prepared to “get his stuff done”. By the end of the day of course he has done all sorts of things, but hasn’t even made a start on “his stuff”.
If you’re like me you are only too familiar with this sort of delaying tactic. After a day like this I would berate myself for completely wasting the day.
Then recently I re-read John Perry’s hilarious article Structured Procrastination and started to have second thoughts about Lev Yilmaz’s cartoon day.
Imagine that the character in the clip had started his day with a To Do list that looked like this:
Grocery shopping for the week
Oil office chair
Watch “Twilight Zone” marathon
How much of it would he have done? An untidy desk and a squeaky chair are the sort of things that we can put up with for months, and all the time they are draining our energy. The week’s grocery shopping is a necessary and usually burdensome chore. Eating an omelette rather than junk food is a plus. Watching the “Twilight Zone” marathon is better than mindlessly channel-surfing.
In other words, if he had started the day with the intention of doing these tasks, he might easily have failed to get very far through the list. But because he had an item “Get My Stuff Done” which he was resisting more than any of these things, he got all of them done with ease.
The moral is to give ourselves credit for what we have done, rather than beat ourselves up for what we haven’t done. And to realise that the things we are avoiding doing may be strong motivators for getting all the other stuff done. Make the most of it!