By Aila, Co-Founder of WEquil.School ... Originally published in October of 2020.
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a procrastinators mind? Well everyone is a procrastinator at something. Some people procrastinate for a really really long time and some people are not like that. Read this post to find out what it is like for some people that procrastinate a lot.
Hope you enjoy!
But first, watch this Ted video.
The Instant Gratification Monkey
All people have a part of their brain that encourages you to do whatever makes sense. Even the procrastinators.
This "whatever makes sense" part of your brain makes logical choices. It’s not about having fun or doing whatever seems most stimulating, it just does the logical thing based on thoughtful reflection ... aligning our actions with our goals and values.
This part of the brain, however, can be taken over…
... by the "Instant Gratification Monkey".
This monkey only cares about things that are easy and fun and only wants to do things that'll make it (you) happy right then in that moment.
But the Instant Gratification Monkey does not have any knowledge of the future. And so most of the time when you are trying to do rational things, he keeps distracting you and turns the wheel so that you keep procrastinating, and procrastinating.
Its ok ... we have all been there.
We all know the Instant Gratification Monkey tugging us to do things that are easy and fun. But there is another part of our brains called the Rational Decision-Maker. She (he) does things that make sense.
Sometimes the Instant Gratification Monkey and the Rational Decision-Maker guy disagree, but other times they agree!
That is because sometimes it makes sense to do easy and fun things. For example, playing with legos on the weekend when there is nothing else you have to do, or taking a short walk in the morning.
The Dark Playground
Unfortunately for a procrastinator, when they disagree, it always turns out a certain way...
... in the "Dark Playground".
The Dark Playground is a place where you do only easy and fun things. But when you are in the Dark Playground you aren't actually having fun. When you are procrastinating a lot you don't feel good when you are doing it.
When your mind is in the Dark Playground you feel emotions like boredom, anxiety, dread and even self-loathing ... all those negative emotions, which is the reason why you don't want to be in the Dark Playground.
The Instant Gratification Monkey will sometimes run into the Dark Playground, but thankfully there is one person the monkey is scared of called ...
The Panic Monster
... the "Panic Monster!"
Sometimes when you keep procrastinating and procrastinating and you get too close to some kind of deadline then the Panic Monster wakes up.
The Panic Monster is the only thing the Monkey is terrified of. When the monkey runs away the Rational Decision Maker can take the wheel of your brain and start to make rational decisions.
Deadlines enable the Panic Monster, but sometimes there is no deadline. Without a deadline the Panic Monster has nothing to wake up too so the Instant Gratification Monkey keeps playing and procrastinating ... delaying things you should do forever! Dun dun DUUUUUUN! (dramatic music)
Do Hard Things
When that happens you have to gather up your strength and get your mind ready to do hard things. When you do hard things, you don’t procrastinate ... helping you do the things that make sense.
At first, the Hard Things place is not a very enjoyable place to be. Even the Rational Decision Maker does not like walking into the Hard Place. However, after you do it, you start to feel really good about your decision and reduce anxiety getting Hard Things out of the way!
Deadlines can help you take that first step into the Hard Place by giving you no other choice. For example, when you make a promise, study for a test, or need to do chores.
So to all you procrastinators out there (and to some degree that is everyone) ... you can help that little Instant Gratification Monkey avoid running into the Dark Place by setting goals with deadlines for yourself. This will help your Rational Decision Maker take that first step into doing the Hard Things that we know will help us feel better.
Hopefully now you know what goes on inside a Procrastinators head. But like I said before, everyone is a procrastinator at something sometimes. By understanding the procrastinator's mind, you will improve your decision making by not letting the instant gratification money take over the wheel! Thank you for your interest. Stay safe!
By Aila McPhail on 07/20/2020
Thank you for your interest in my project! I started WEquil.School with my sister Sumay during the pandemic. I've recently taken over management of WEquil.School where I teach kids how to start businesses and build their Digital Resume doing real things like building products and writing books. Here are some links with more information about me and our learning programs for those with interest.