We’ve all encountered procrastination at some point, either suffering from it directly or observing symptoms in those around us. It’s perhaps the most deadly disease facing the UK workforce today, but there is a startling lack of information out there on how to tackle and overcome it. I had several other things I really should’ve been getting on with, so I thought I’d take some time to help you all break free from the cycle, doing my bit to make the world a better place—well, a more task-oriented place at any rate. Here they are: five novel coping mechanisms for the professional procrastinators amongst you.
1. Learn to incentivise productivity.
Set yourself achievable goals and reward completion. For example, if you can get that progress report written by noon, why not treat yourself to a slap up lunch. And if you can get around to doctoring those annual sales figures too, well, hell, you just earned yourself a spa weekend. This method is proven to work against common garden laziness, but its success against procrastination is less well documented. Avoid getting too wrapped up in devising incentives. Excessive time spent planning elaborate indulgences and compiling exhaustive lists of the deadlines you’ll need to meet in order to deserve them represents a regression.
2. Take a look at the developing world.
There’s no getting away from the fact that procrastination is a distinctly First World phenomenon. Darwinism dictates that there is no place for procrastination in regions where an individual’s continuing survival is contingent upon them prioritising certain essential chores—hunting for rodents, foraging for nuts and berries, sourcing clean water, maintaining the mud hut. Try remembering that. The guilt might spur you into action. No, don’t spend hours researching Third World poverty and writing sanctimonious Facebook captions under videos you’ve shared on the subject; get that f***ing progress report written! It’s already three days overdue.
3. Seek chemical intervention.
There are several focus-inducing drugs on the market. Adderall and Ritalin are both prescription medications designed to block out distractions and allow users to devote their attentions wholly to the job at hand. However, in addition to the fact that these drugs are often hard to come by via legal means, there are potential pitfalls associated with their ingestion. Chief amongst these for the procrastinator is the possibility that their newfound concentration will be wasted on diversionary tasks, only exacerbating the existing situation. To prevent this undesirable scenario whilst under the influence, be sure to lock yourself in an unfurnished room with nothing to distract your attention but that which you most urgently need to complete.
4. Turn procrastination to your advantage.
You know how your warped hierarchy of priorities operates. Harness procrastination to help you push on with that which must urgently be done. To guarantee completion of a deeply tedious chore such as your tax return, home in on some other more demanding task of undeniably greater importance in the scheme of things, say, brokering peace in the Middle East. Make it your mission. Your subsequent attempts to shirk this higher imperative will lead you to pursue the formerly undesirable chore as a less strenuous alternative. Using this untested method, it may be possible to direct your attentions onto any given task required of you, no matter how tiresome, provided there is an even more laborious undertaking out there that you will avoid in the process.
5. Accept things.
There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to accept that he isn’t completely in control of his actions, that free will is, to an extent, a lie. Procrastination is the result of our subconscious desire to evade a specific job. It is this that ultimately drives to shrug it off, although we justify our not doing the one task by appeal to the necessity of doing another. You can try to fight it, but sometimes it’s healthier to relax into things, to let nature take its course. You’ll either get done what you need to or you won’t, in which case you’ll face the consequences. Maybe you’ll learn, but it seems unlikely. Perhaps something beautiful will come from it all—a bestselling novel; a timeless work of art; an encyclopaedic knowledge of the life and works of Sylvester Stallone—but that’s for fate to decide. Learn to love yourself, and if you insist on procrastinating, at least attempt to channel your efforts into worthwhile pursuits.