Procrastination: A Mind Trick

Procrastination happens in your mind before in manifest in your actions. You think then you act. You persuade yourself that there’s something more important to do now and that it’s fine to tackle “The Task” at another moment. Somehow, you trick yourself into believing that it’s in your best interest to tackle “The Task” later, and once you’ve fallen for this, you act accordingly.

For example, you say to yourself, “You can play video games now and you’ll tackle your term paper tomorrow.”, and somehow, convince yourself that delaying the term paper will be better for you: you’re tricked. When tomorrow comes, you say the same thing, and before you know it, it’s the night before the due date and you have to rush to complete your term paper.

I know this mind trick all too well. I have fallen for it so many times. And every time, I resolved, “It’s the last time I fall for this”. But the next time: I fell for it again. That’s how powerful this mind trick is. If you’ve wrestled with procrastination, you know exactly what I mean.

Catch it in the Act

One of the important steps in overcoming procrastination is to recognize this mind trick. If you can recognize procrastination when it shows up in your life, you’ll be in a better position to fight.

One of the ways to unmask procrastination is to catch it when it’s about to play the mind trick on you. More specifically, it’s to catch yourself when you say to yourself one of the following (or a variation of it):

  • “I’ll do it later.”
  • “I’ll do it after I do XYZ.”
  • “I’ll wait for XYZ before I start.”
  • “I need more of XYZ before I can start.”
  • “I’ll do it tomorrow; I feel too tired now.”

Whatever statements (excuses) you use to trick yourself into delaying a task, let them become triggers that alert you and help you realize when you’re about to procrastinate.

You must catch yourself in the act.

Anytime you catch yourself giving an excuse (to yourself) to justify you postponing handling a task, stop and assess whether you’re about to procrastinate. In other words, put the excuse on trial and determine if it’s valid. More often than not, it won’t be; it’ll be a mind trick. By taking a few seconds to assess the excuse, you’ll unmask procrastination. You’ll catch it in the act, and this will put you in a better position to combat it. Every time it lurks its ugly face, you’ll recognize it and pulverize it.