Time Is Not Really On Your Side

Written By Andreea M

Author Bio: Digital marketing manager by day, writer and day dreamer by night. In love with the first sip of coffee in the morning, pumpkin pie, autumn colors and foggy days. - Medium: medium.com/@andreea.me

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Time is Not Really on Your Side

It’s easy, right, to leave things for ‚tomorrow’ and think there’s still time. In around 70% cases, at least in my experience (kudos to those of you who can procrastinate and still do things brilliantly and completely even when the deadline is so close you can actually smell it), putting things off means not actually doing said things or at least not doing them properly.

For example, I’ve been wanting to write this little piece for a about a week or so. I’ve had all major points written down, only to start crossing items when I finally sat down to do it. I just wanted it done, even if the abbreviated version. Okay, so in the end I fought with myself and told myself that no matter how long it takes, it will be done exactly in the manner I’ve initially planned it.

Putting this off thinking you still have time is pretty much the antonym of pro-activity, of reaching your goals. My natural inclination tells me to daydream all day long; to pick up a book only to put that off because I find some Ted Talk much more appealing. But then I discover I really need to clean the house, but wait, I forgot to buy milk. I should just go and buy milk for coffee, because I’m a lot more proactive after I’ve had coffee. And of course I deserve a couple of minutes of me time (read: aimlessly browse reddit) while I drink my coffee.

Half a day later, I still haven’t done anything.

Dan Ariely has some great tales on how we all lie to ourselves. In this case, we lie that that book wasn’t that interesting, that that Ted Talk can be viewed anytime, that we deserve some time off simply watching some form of entertainment, that the gym is still there tomorrow. If we have a passion we need to build outside of our work schedule, we excuse ourselves saying that we work so hard at our actual job that in our spare time it’s OK to only pursue activities that allow us to not think too much.

To correct this behavior, whenever I have something to do (A) and I put if off by doing something else (B) completely, I run that particular activity (B) through a few questions. I work best by example, so let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’m putting off reading a great book written by an industry leader to watch the pilot of a new show everyone is talking about.

How will this help me?

What will I learn from watching this show/ from spending my time like this?

Will I feel better or worse about myself if I choose to do this instead of reading?

How will this impact my life?

Is there a possibility my life would change if I watch this?

What will I miss if I don’t watch that show?

If you don’t really like how you’ve answered these, then maybe your conscience won and you get to work, even if it is out of guilt (hey, there’s an entire religion that works on people doing the right thing because they feel guilty).

If you did like your answers…go and get thyself pampered, you hedonist, you!

I ask myself these questions, especially the ‘how will this tiny experience change my life’ whenever I have problems deciding what to do, from going to an industry even to spending an entire night out.
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Bonus: if you still have no clue what to choose, apply Ben Carson’s Qs (whatever you might think of him, this system is pretty solid):
What is the best thing that can happen if I do this? What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?
What is the best thing that can happen if I don’t do it? What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do it?