“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: It snatches away each day as it comes and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today…The whole future lies in uncertainty: Live immediately.” — Seneca
Procrastination is not too different from impulse buying via credit cards. In both instances, we are driven to focus on instant gratification and let our future self pay the price. One is in the form of consumer debt and other in the form of time debt. Of course, added with the interest of anxiety, irritation and distraction.
Instead of robbing our future selves of time or money, it’s best to do what’s necessary and uncomfortable. Not only this helps us make the right decision in the present moment, but we also make life easier for our future selves. One way to reframe this is to think that when you’re taking care of that task or errand right now, you’re giving your future self a gift — a gift of time, a gift of relief, a gift of joy, a gift of the satisfaction of having things done.
No matter how active or productive you consider yourself to be, we all go through phases of laziness, where we just don’t do what we’re supposed to do. And we rationalize it with a number of excuses — “it’ll take too long,” “it’s too difficult,” “I’m not in the mood to do it right now,” “I’m tired,” “now is not a good time.” We promise ourselves that we’ll take care of it for sure, but not at this right second.
Excuses, just like credit cards, are crutches that we use to experience instant pleasures. But we forget that there’s no free lunch, neither today nor tomorrow.
What’s something that you’ve been putting off? Maybe it’s the audiobook project that you have to finish, the emails that you need to reply to, that grad school assignment that you need to submit, the pile of clean clothes from the weekend that you need to fold and organize, or those dishes in the sink that need to be washed.
Delaying and procrastination only increases anxiety, stress and negativity in our lives. And it’s crucial that we come to our senses and single-mindedly focus on slaying the dragon of Resistance every day, whether it be for our professional tasks or personal errands.
Putting off stuff, as Ryan Holiday puts it, is just being arrogant and entitled. You don’t know tomorrow has in store for you. You don’t know what the future might look like. Just do the things that need to be done immediately; you’ll set up your future self for success and joy.
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