Procrastination, Inspiration Hour on February 7th

Have some thoughts on this recent Inspiration Hour? Share below in the comments!

Inspiration Hour Logo by WA

Have some thoughts on this recent Inspiration Hour? Share below in the comments!

Liliana Owen, Journalist

Are you a procrastinator?

Whether or not you call yourself one, you have probably procrastinated at one point in your life. And it might have turned into a habit… So do you want some tips for kickin’ it?

Well, at Inspiration Hour on the seventh of February, we were joined by Mrs. Emily Gutierrez, who teaches 8th-grade writing, among other things. Her presentation, entitled “Stop that Monkey: Avoiding Procrastination,” used a TED talk as a jumping-off point and ended with a discussion of how to stop procrastination.

TED Talk

There is this awesome-and funny- TED talk by Tim Urban about procrastination. He talks about how he wrote his Thesis in 72 hours; and how the instant-gratification monkey, rational-decision-maker, and panic monster all work together.

Mrs. Gutierrez did not have us watch the video but just explained how it all worked for us. Basically, the rational-decision-maker is a rational person who wants to get stuff done on a sensible timetable. The monkey would rather watch Netflix, go on a YouTube spiral, check the fridge, and do other stuff while totally ignoring everything that should be getting done. And then the panic monster steps in when a deadline is about to come, scaring the monkey into a tree and allowing the rational-decision-maker to take control. Comments in chat showed that it was extremely relatable to students (the YouTube spiral especially).

So Why Procrastinate?

So why do we procrastinate? Answers varied, and included stuff like overwhelm, fear, and not knowing where to start. Mrs. Gutierrez said, “We think of our future selves in the same way as we think of celebrities.” This contributes to procrastination. For example, if the future is so distant, then why bother with it? Or, I’m going to be so amazing someday, so why not do X, Y, and Z when I’m a more awesome person and can handle it better?

The Cycle That Makes It Worse

When you procrastinate, you get trapped in a vicious cycle that makes it harder to not procrastinate! You go from procrastination to guilt, to fear, to procrastination, to guilt, to fear… and so on! Naturally, this cycle could ruin your life! So, you need to break it! But how? Well…

Just Do It (Not Really)

Just do it! But wait, not really. Saying, “Just do it!” to a procrastinator is about as helpful as saying, “Just cheer up!” to a depressed person. Does. Not. Work. And don’t waste your time trying it.

Screenshot By Liliana Owen

So What…

Well, some things you can do are just recognizing what’s going on. Please see the chart, a screenshot from Mrs. Gutierrez’s slides.

The thing is when you are procrastinating, you are living in the first, third, and fourth quadrants. These quadrants involve freaking out because your paper is due this evening, binge-watching Netflix and/or YouTube, and dealing with last-minute distractions.

And really, those quadrants (the first, third, and fourth) will not make you happy! So the goal is to spend most of your time in the second quadrant.

But How?

So how can you break the cycle of procrastination? The first step is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for procrastinating and procrastinating and procrastinating! You can’t forgive yourself after you finish the project or after you stop procrastinating either. Forgiveness needs to happen first. Now. Before you can move on and conquer everything you’ve been procrastinating.

And Then…

The next step is to manage those feelings. Basically, to acknowledge their existence and then set them aside so you can get to work.

You have to know that your future self will not feel any different about getting these tasks done. So don’t delegate them to your future self. Your future self is not going to be happy about that, and would much rather you get it all done NOW.

How To Get Started

If you’re having a hard time with procrastination, maybe it’s just because you feel too overwhelmed with the project and don’t know where to start! In that case, breaking it down into baby steps will help a lot. For example, instead of sitting down to write that paper, just pull out your computer and get a new google doc up. Write the title. Write the first word. Open up the readings and browse them.

Screenshot by Liliana Owen

Where Is Your Focus?

Where is YOUR focus? Is it towards finishing? If so, that could be a problem! The focus should be on starting, not finishing. After all, starting is just a step; finishing is a big ordeal.

Wrapping Up Inspiration Hour

In the end, Mrs. Gutierrez shared an inspirational quote with us from Tim Urban, the dude who gave the TED talk that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It follows, “No one ‘builds a house.’ They lay one brick again and again and the final result is a house. Procrastinators are great visionaries –they love to fantasize about the beautiful mansion they will one day have built—but what they need to be are gritty construction workers, who methodically lay one brick after the other, day after day, without giving up, until a house is built.”

Inspiration Hour Was…

Inspiration Hour was awesome! If you want to watch the recording, you can find it (along with the Inspiration Hour schedule and zoom link) in Homeroom.

We hope you’ll join us for the next Inspiration Hour, which will be on February 14th for high schoolers at 1pm mountain time. We will be discussing Scientific Surprises Throughout Human History with Kent Schwager. It should be super fun!