As a chilly wind embraced the sunny Sunday morning, I was sat huddled in a small chair with my trusty notepad and pen. The deadline for submission of articles loomed over me. In all honesty, my undying faith in the grossly exaggerated capabilities of my skill as a writer was at high tide as well. A little voice in my head had had me convinced that I could easily make at least five submissions within the next two days, leaving three days to spare. Squinting at the blue blobs of ink on my paper, I began jotting the list of topics I would enjoy writing about. Three hours and five and a half doodles later I found myself looking at a rather extensive array of topics that interested me. It can be safely assumed that, at that time, practically anything and everything under the sun (and beyond) seemed like a viable subject. Impressed and slightly overwhelmed by this daunting discovery, I thought it would do me well to take a lunch break so that I could come back and start writing- or so I thought. Fast forward through the break and I found myself vacillating between the abyss of reasons as to why I need to get started with writing and the justification why every other task (which was otherwise trivial) was more important than the one at hand:
1) Cleaning my desk and book rack- because they are dusty and there was a chance that I could develop a newfound dust allergy.
2) Re-stacking my books on the shelves because I’ve already come this far, I might as well be organized.
3) Coming across a book of limericks and reading it because poorly written, inappropriate, 5 lined poetries are always a hoot.
4) Watering my cactus (I have no justification for this.)
5) Scavenging social media for memes, so on and so forth.
The sun (literally) set and along with it came the sweet embrace of sleep, which was followed by Monday blues. The entirety of my Sunday (and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) had passed in the blissful haze of my stalling as I kept telling myself I would come back and start writing again. For someone who strongly believes in Polonius’ “This above all: to thine own self be true…”, I could not have a peaceful night’s sleep for the entire week, knowing that I have such a task pending. Much like Hamlet, I found myself facing a moral dilemma as every day passed: Was I to dismiss this unforeseen carnal instinct to do literally anything that wouldn’t involve me to sit down to write- as a ‘human vice’ and move on? Or was I to stop dead in my tracks and explore this sudden need for me to dally with the one task that brings me immense joy on regularity?
I needed closure, and like anyone with an unhealthy amount of free time in their hands, I scoured the internet looking for answers. Procrastination, according to Wikipedia was the ‘habitual delay of starting or finishing a task despite its negative consequences’. Slightly miffed by the labyrinth of psychology reports and articles that delved far too deep into the crevasse of the said subject, I managed to understand that every act of procrastination no matter the gravity of its outcome was rooted to three basic human instincts: fight, flight or fright.
The fight-ers were the thrill seekers. They put off doing things simply because they believed that they performed better under stress. The rush of adrenaline that accompanies while working against a deadline was their version of thrill; similar to the wallop of excitement that is a direct result of participating in extreme sports like skateboarding, surfing, para jumping or having a snarky comeback for something your mother said.
The flight-ers were the most common kinds of procrastinators- the avoiders. They fear judgement, rejection and quite possibly every emotion a teenager feels, except that they don’t outgrow it. I suppose their theory is that you cannot scrutinize a work that’s non-existent. Quitting even before the race begins. They tend to give far too much attention to what others may think and far too little to what they can take from the process.
The fright-ers were the perfectionists- a rarity but present nonetheless. As much as we gaze in awe at perfectionists, there is no doubt that they lack decisiveness. Ironically, the fear of being unable to complete a task perfectly makes them put it off for as long as possible. Their very strength paves a way to their weakness.
Regardless of the kind of procrastinator one could be, the methods of overcoming it were brutally generic- make a ‘to-do list’, break down large tasks into smaller manageable goals, self-bribery, establish a routine, work in a ‘distraction-free’ environment and quite possibly the typical humdrum we keep hearing from anyone, anywhere and at any time. Solutions that were easier said than done; their effectiveness a mystery to the best of us. Freshly equipped with this new found information, I sat down again at my neatly organized, dust-free desk and began writing. It was Thursday and I had just enough time to write my little heart out and finally put all this behind me.