I catch myself making excuses like “Oh, I’ve done (insert mundane task here) today so (insert equally mundane task here) can wait until tomorrow.” Unfortunately ‘tomorrow’ becomes the next day and then the next day. Existence suddenly becomes something that can only materialise in the future. We become temporally challenged, stuck in the present, worrying about the future and doing absolutely nothing about it.
Feverishly, we lie down and try to think about all of our responsibilities, our obligations, but we get paralysis from dread. Then an opaque sense of guilt descends upon us, telling us: “What the hell is wrong with you? You had plenty of time to do it! Why are you so lazy?” Then we lay there for an hour or two, wishing that someone could bash us across the head with a brick, until sleep finally arrives and tomorrow can begin. Tomorrow – where all our second chances await. (Sounds familiar, right?)
Tomorrow comes and the cycle begins again, we just want to forget about all the dead-weight and enjoy ourselves. One of the biggest problems in these modern times is that most of us can’t be away from our phones for too long. I find myself using it to distract myself from my problems. Procrastination is most dangerous when scrolling through the same boring shit-posts on Instagram or Facebook. In a trance-like state, where your brain is on auto-pilot, you even have to take your smart phone into the toilet with you because, heaven forbid, you spend a few seconds alone with your own thoughts. Oh the sweet panic of how it only takes a few seconds to realise the guilt of avoiding problems or situations. We throw away hours glued to our phones, wasting time and energy, with absolutely zero benefit.
Things are a more enjoyable without that nagging voice in the back of our heads reminding us that we should not be having fun; we should be working or cleaning or exercising or writing. It is part of human nature to feel good after accomplishing something, big or small. So I suppose it all comes down to motivation, self-awareness and ambition. I ask myself a question if I feel like putting something off:
Why not today? (For real though, why!?)
More often than not the answer is “I can’t be bothered” or “I just can’t deal with it right now.” Well, perhaps we’ll never be bothered, or we’ll never be able to deal with it. Then what happens? We become wrapped in a cloak of denial and false-ignorance, we become unable to enjoy anything because we’re too worried about the things we are avoiding and with each passing day the pressure to complete our tasks intensifies.
Say hello to a good old friend of mine called: “The Spiral of Decline.” (That’s Mr Spiral of Decline to you, be respectful, he’s nasty.) This describes a pattern where behaviours directly affect one another, fuelling each other. Basically: by ignoring problems, the problems get worse, the problems become bigger and bigger. This then leads to lack of sleep and then lack of functionality when awake, making it even more difficult to organise your thoughts, which then leads back to ignoring our problems, etc…
So how do we not let ourselves become trapped in this cycle?
Breaking problems down into small manageable chunks is what works best. Don’t think of things as a whole, solve one small problem at a time at a pace that suits you. Understand that ignoring things only makes them worse. Celebrating and rewarding yourself for doing things you don’t want to do is super important. The thing that helps me the most is remembering how good I am going to feel after an unpleasant task has been dusted off.
It’s all but too easy to sweep everything under the rug but the reality is, for most people, that things could actually be a lot worse. The reality is that we are strong creatures who specialise in endurance. The reality is that we can overcome anything!