Why Intelligent People Procrastinate (And How Not To)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Once upon a time, there lived an
intellectually challenged gentleman. His finger would constantly be burned on
stove tops and pricked by thorny rose bushes. The reason these undoubtedly
painful event kept on happening again and again was because this poor man was
unable to foresee the consequences of his actions. Whereas a Grandmaster of
chess might see seven moves ahead, or an entrepreneur might be able to visualize
their business strategy, the mental handicap of this fictional man allows no
such ability.
 
This makes him fun at parties—after all,
he’s pretty much permanently drunk. He says and does things while mentally
incapable of foreseeing the consequences.
 
Counterintuitively, though, this dullard
is jaw-droppingly productive. No joke.
 
Procrastination? He’s literally never
done it. Never. Not once. He tackles tasks head on and gets them done lightning
fast.
 
Now, how on earth is this?
 
Here’s how: He is unable to foresee how
difficult, tedious, and enjoyable doing the task will be. Consequently, all
motivation and temptation to procrastinate is gone. He just does stuff without
thinking about it.
 
Ironically, for this reason, intelligent
people are more often the ones that feel the urge to procrastinate. This is
because they are more likely to see and think about the consequences. It’s going
to be boring. It’s going to be difficult. I might make a mistake. What if it’s
not done properly? I don’t want to do this! And on. And on. And on again. Our
intelligence ends up being used against us—to foresee how tedious and unpleasant
doing a certain task will be, demotivating us in the process.
 
But the dummies of the world often just
do whatever is in front of them. No thoughts of consequences. No thoughts of
anything much, really. They just plow on like a mindless tractor.
 
But there’s a lot that us
procrastinators can learn from these inadvertently productive people. Us
procrastinators, the smart people we are, often end up placing ourselves in a
psychological jail-cell. As a result, we end up procrastinating! We discourage
and demotivate ourselves, causing ourselves to procrastinate, by
overthinking.
 
So what is it that we can learn from all
this?
 
Well, first of all, our bodies have a
visceral response to the thoughts and images we feed it.
 
If we see someone accidentally slice
their finger while chopping up fruits, we cringe and feel—at least in a certain
way—as if we too had just cut our fingers.
 
The same thing happens when we start
thinking about doing our taxes and any other not-so-enjoyable work that needs to
get done. A mere glance at your tax form or to-do list can send intelligent
brains on a mental tangent of negative thought-patterns that go so deep they
paralyze one from taking action.
 
Unfortunately, all of this over-thinking
not only gets us nowhere but it freezes us. This is best summed up by the
following Chinese proverb: “Talk does not cook rice.”
 
So what’s the solution?
 
Develop the “next action” habit…