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15 – Procrastination

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha said that, and it is important to understand what he meant if you want to beat your biggest obstacle: Procrastination.

Procrastination is the act of postponing or delaying something. You don’t want to study now so you’ll do it later. You want to quit smoking, so you set a date on your calendar instead of quitting right that instant. Your room is messy, but you don’t want to clean it right now, so you promise yourself you’ll do it soon… yet again.

So why is procrastination bad?

  • Time lost: Delay things, and when you do get around to doing them they might take more time to do, and more effort.
  • Anxiety: You might have delayed a task, but you’ll feel guilty you didn’t do it when you had the chance, and will feel anxious.
  • Stress: Had to study but waited until last second? Now time is pressing and the test is tomorrow. Stress can pick up fast.
  • Health: Procrastinators are less healthy, less happy, have lower self-esteem, and poorer decision-making ability than their peers.

How do you beat procrastination?

As Buddha said, focus on the present. The past is gone; look back too much and you’ll miss what’s in front of you. The future is not here yet, look too far and you won’t be able to steer your life the way you want it. Thus, live moment to moment and you’ll enjoy a pure, distilled life.

And what does living in the moment entail? Well, it means changing the way you think. Why task future you with cleaning your room? Let him enjoy some free time, do him (yourself) a favor and do it now instead. You’ll get it out of the way and feel good once you do.

If you liked that past/present/future idea you can use this as motivation. Thank past versions of yourself for having done work you would have had to do now. Do work now for your future you as a token of kindness to yourself. Silly as it sounds, it will help and make you smile.

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