How often do you find yourself saying ‘I will do it tomorrow’…?
You know today was yesterday’s tomorrow right?
Tomorrow is not a day yet to come, it is a day that is here everyday.
We like to think that tomorrow holds so much promise. We didn’t get done what we wanted today, so there is always tomorrow!
It can be a soothing thought to tell ourselves that but if you like to always use that as your fall-back and look to tomorrow as the ‘get stuff done day’ but actually stuff never gets done on that that day you then quickly realise that every day you aren’t getting stuff done. You know you didnt do it yesterday, you know already you won’t do it today, and even if you say you are going to do it tomorrow you know deep down you won’t.
One quote I saw on Instagram that hit me like a slap in the face not long ago was:
‘One day you’re gonna run out of one days’
In other words, one day you’re going to run out of tomorrows, because that’s all ‘one day is’ – a bunch of tomorrows’ all thrown together.
This post isn’t about those things that you genuinely ran out of time to do in your day as you were run off your feet and that you know you will do as soon as the sun comes up the next morning. What I’m talking about here is more focused on those tasks that have been on your list to do for a while but you keep putting them off because maybe:
- It’s outside your comfort zone
- You are nervous or scared
- You don’t know where to start
- You just can’t be bothered and are feeling lazy
The saying ‘I will do it tomorrow’ and procrastination go hand in hand a lot of the time! They are like a 90 year old married couple that although they know aren’t good for each other refuse to leave each others side, even in the retirement home.
For myself I openly admit to you that I can be a big procrastinator. Jeez, when I was younger I could procrastinate on procrastinating. Yep, on some days I could be that good at it.
But I then also became hugely frustrated at myself sometimes because I was just not.getting.stuff.done.
You then start questioning yourself saying ‘Is this just the way I am?? Am I one of those people who makes plans to do things but never actually sees them through or gets them done?’
The trait of putting stuff off can feel very personal, where you think to yourself that it is mainly something that seems to only affect you while it appears everyone around you is getting on properly with life and are are already doing next weeks job today. They don’t even know what the concept of tomorrow is by the looks of it!
I then not too long ago came across this BRILLIANT video by Tim Urban called ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator’. Have a watch, it is really informative and funny, mainly due to his very grown up drawings! Please do spend the next 14 minutes of your life watching it before you continue reading, it’s well worth it and will be time well spent:
After I watched this video near the end of last year I thought to myself; ‘Everything he has said is me! It’s also a lot of other peoples lives so it’s not just me! So many of us are like this! I dont feel alone anymore! Yay!’
Although I felt a bit of comfort knowing this wasn’t an individual thing, and that so many people struggle with the Instant Gratification Monkey, my main lesson from him was that I now had a better understanding and a explanation for my immediate procrastination and that I often live by the panic monster, but more importantly understanding my long-term procrastination frustration and my ‘tomorrows’ saying had a big effect on me.
‘Long term procrastination has made people feel like a spectator in their own lives. The frustration is not that they couldnt acheive their dreams; its that they werent even able to start chasing them’ – Tim Urban
At the moment I’m currently writing two books and some days are really productive getting the words out, and others not so much. My rate of progress has been slowing down a bit in the last couple of weeks with a few other things I have taken on alongside it and on a few occasions I have found myself saying ‘let me do (something else) for the rest of the day, and I will start writing again properly tomorrow when I have the right amount of time to focus on it’.
Some days this just didn’t happen.
I was getting fed up with myself feeling this ‘long term procrastination’ effect sneakily slipping into a few of my days.
So I have decided to get the panic monster involved on my terms. I am making my own deadline on something (my books) that doesn’t have to have one. I am not allowing the panic monster to have free rein to terrorise me though so I’m going to constructively compete against it. So as of this week I am getting involved in NaNoWriMo.
‘NaNoWhat?’ I hear you say!
National Novel Writing Month, is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30
The idea is you write an entire first draft novel in 30 days from start to finish.
Well, my books aren’t novels and I already have 70,000 words written of one of them, but I know the concept of NaNoWriMo’s wordcount deadline of the end of the month is just what I need to kick my arse into touch in order to start hammering out the rest of this book.
Problem is I am already eight days behind and I’m actually due to start it off as soon as I have finished typing this blog post. I could easily have just decided to not do it at all as I am so far behind before I have even begun, but now that I have woken up the competitive part within me and have set myself my deadline and daily word count that even thinking about pushing my start date back one more day makes me feel like that would be one tomorrow too many.
Also, if I don’t hit 50,000 words, even though I will be aiming for that, if I only manage 40,000 then yes the part of me that always wants to compete and win will be a bit disappointed, but then I will also acknowledge that I wrote 40,000 bloody words that would not have been written in probably half the time if I hadn’t at least got started! Either way I will be closer toward my end goal than if I hadn’t even attempted NaNoWriMo.
So now, November, its on! *insert commentators voice* Contender REEEEEADY! Gladiator REEEEADY! (Any excuse to bring back a bit of 90’s TV! In case you are wondering I am the of course the Gladiator. I mean, obviously. Who didn’t want to be Jet or Lightening back in the day?!).
Advice to myself:
I still frequently find my self gratification monkey coming out to take me off to the dark playground for the afternoon, but now when I take note that I am avoiding something I think ‘this job has to get done eventually, one way or the other. So I can either sit here avoiding it doing other things and trying to relax/avoid it in the dark playground (whilst still giving this uncompleted task my energy as it is sitting at the back of my mind niggling at me because I know I still haven’t done it), or I can just get it done and out the way, or at least start to get it done and then when I come to relax later on in the day I can truly let my brain switch off (and also feel a little proud of myself) because I will have earned it.
- Try applying the advice I have given to myself just above to your own way of thinking
- Looking at what it is that you keep putting off until tomorrow and seeing if it can be broken down into more manageable chunks. For advice on this have a read of a past blog post I wrote called Remember, don’t try to eat the elephant all at once, eat it bit by bit…
- Work out what you respond well to that helps you get your ‘tomorrow’ job done and work towards it:
- Is it setting a deadline?
- Asking someone else to check in with you and your progress at agreed intervals as you will hold yourself accountable that way?
- Is it rewarding yourself with a treat once you have done it?
At the end of the month I will write another post letting you know how I got on with NaNoWriMo… here goes!!!
Thanks for reading,