I cannot believe that the last time I made a post was a month ago. While I’ve put off managing my blog, I’ve been enjoying my time at Rock the garden, Northern Spark, the Stone Arch Bridge festival, and so on. Of course, I’ve also done college visits, read summer novels, and exercised. But, somehow, I was feeling unproductive. Every night, I would look at my planner; I always ended up not finishing my major tasks. Instead, I was focused on completing the trivial tasks that could be done in a timely fashion.
I started questioning why I was doing this to myself. I didn’t feel good about my decisions, but I also wasn’t pushing myself to feel productive again. One Friday afternoon, I listened to Leandra Medine’s podcast: Monocycle; Medine was dealing with a dilemma, an addiction to the comfort zone. This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot lately, because I’m definitely addicted to my comfort zone. For example, I wouldn’t even start on important tasks such as doing chores and studying for an exam, because they’re boring and time-consuming. Instead, I always haunted down for the “easy and fun.”
Perhaps, you’re also caught in your comfort zone, and it allows you to breathe in a whole new level. However, the relaxation is temporary and unhealthy; it’s critical that we question ourselves “what is stopping me from feeling excited about what I’m about to do,” as Medine explains in Monocycle.
As I spoke earlier on about prioritizing the “easy and fun,”a procrastinator is always in search for distraction. For instance, I have an upcoming ACT on September 10th. There’s still plenty of time until the exam, but I know the September scores are really important, so I decided to start studying earlier. But I also want to have some fun before mid August. So, I decide to do all the following in July: study for the ACT, go on a trip, watch the fireworks on independence day, etc. Without thinking about the budget and time constraints, I’m just overwhelming both the mind and the body. After a conflict with my mother on Monday, I kept asking myself if I was truly spending my summer wisely.
My mother is frustrated at me because she thinks that the summer before senior year is important; therefore, it’s logical to spend my time wisely by exercising, studying, and volunteering. But my mother claims that I’ve been absolutely self-indulgent. She reminded me of the consequences of not working hard when the opportunity is given. I thought my mother’s criticism on my self-indulgence was unarguably accurate. After wiping off tears on my cheek, I asked myself if it was morally right to prioritize leisure activities, when I will be dealing with college admissions in a couple months.
I recalled my memory to the beginning of June when I was full of ambition and positivity towards a productive summer. I’ve set self-growth as my goal; it provided a clear purpose why I needed to complete iffy tasks. I organized a to-do list to tackle tasks in small chunks of time. Without a doubt, I shortly jumped right into the tasks such as writing a post for my blog and finishing one ACT reading section on my workbook.
Last Saturday, I watched a ted talk by Tim Urban entitled Inside the mind of a master procrastinator. In the talk, Urban compares the anatomy of a procrastinator’s brain versus a non-procrastinator’s brain. When examined the anatomy of a procrastinator’s brain, Urban found an instant gratification monkey and a rational-decision maker. While the instant gratification monkey frequently takes over the wheel to arrive at the dark playground, where leisure activities happen when they’re not suppose to happen, the panic monster occasionally visits the procrastinator’s brain to alert both the monkey and the decision maker. The panic monster is referred to “deadlines,” which implements an unbelievable work ethic to pull all-nighters to write up a twenty-page essay so that a procrastinator can avoid public embarrassment at work or grade fluctuation in school. However, according to Urban, all humans become a procrastinator when there aren’t deadlines because nothing’s really happening until they’ve done the hard work to get things going.
Now, you may wonder why I started talking about Tim Urban’s ted talk all of a sudden. Here is my give away: Humans have the capacity of seeing the big picture and making long-term plans, which no other animals can do, because whether you’re a procrastinator or a non-procrastinator, your brain retains a rational-decision maker, as stated in Urban’s ted talk. While all humans are procrastinators without deadlines, according to Urban, I was able to do productive things in June without specific deadlines because the rational-decision maker in my brain was functioning to help me vision a better future and long-term happiness. Therefore, even though all of us are procrastinating on something in our lives, it’s important to stay away from the instant gratification monkey to combat procrastination. So, set an intention to your work; start working on it today.