Do you know anyone who always gets their jobs done, is never behind on any commitment, keeps their promises, raises their children just like it's best for them, has never missed a deadline, balances their nutrition and checkbook, has time for regular exercise, and looks impossibly well groomed doing it all?
Instead, I know many good people with great intentions, who find it hard to say "no", and who feel bad about themselves when life's circumstances get in the way of them finishing off their hopelessly overfilled plate of responsibilities.
Whatever our circumstances, we all have something we think we should be doing, but aren't. We do other stuff instead of that one thing, because we'll get to it later, we're just not quite ready yet, we don't feel like it, etc. In university, I took on extra shifts at the bar and even cleaned my room, dusted, and de-cluttered my desk before sitting down to write that essay. In life now I read books, write emails to or call my friends, and check up on internet gossip instead of going to the gym, preparing next week's blog post, or getting more into marketing my services.
Let's be honest for a second - when you think you should be doing something but you're doing something else, you know you're procrastinating. You are aware of it, even if you're in denial - your subconscious knows what you're up to when you make a choice and spend your time and energy elsewhere. You do this thinking you'll feel better because obviously you prefer / it's easier / it's more fun doing what you're not supposed to.
But the truth is, procrastinating hurts your self-esteem in the long run.
Why? Because whether it's imaginary or not, the priority and importance you place on this task you're not doing won't go away by not looking at it.
Wow, those were quite a few negatives in one sentence, let's see if I can word it differently: Avoiding the gym, the conversation, the email, whatever thing you are not doing will haunt you until you do it. It won't matter that your house is hoovered or all your laundry is ironed, you'll still feel like you haven't accomplished anything today, because you didn't do what your mind tells you you should have.
More on that tomorrow.
(From the archives, first published November 2008)