Thursday, July 17, 2008

Procrastinators: Beware of magical mops

Some of what makes anti-procrastination tools work, is their novelty. Once that novelty wears off, you are right back where you started, procrastinating again.

A hypothetical example:

Let's say I hate mopping my floor and I always procrastinate about doing it. Then I see an ad on TV for a wonder mop, with a handle that twinkles when you push it. You stop pushing, it stops twinkling. You push it faster, it twinkles more. And even more amazing, is that it also sings! I order this mop, because it seems like it could make mopping fun.

So the mop arrives, and I can't wait to get it out of it's packaging and try it. I fill my bucket with soapy water and begin mopping. The singing & twinkling is pretty cool, and before I know it, the whole floor is clean. Great! Wonderful! Terriffic! It's working. I didn't procrastinate and I got the job done.

I like this mop so much, I am having no problem mopping my floor and keeping it clean. I am not even procrastinating about it any more. This is the best mop ever! It's like magic!

But a few months later, after the novelty of the twinkling & singing mop begins to wear off, I find myself beginning to procrastinate about mopping the floor again. What happened? This was supposed to be the best mop ever. What went wrong?

Nothing went wrong. I just had an unrealistic expectation that some wonder tool was going to make me like doing a task I hate.

The truth is that nothing can make me like mopping floors, not even a magical, singing, twinkling wonder mop.

So if you try an anti-procrastination tool and it works for awhile, but then stops working...the problem isn't the tool. It's you and how you feel about the task...your real feelings.

Instead of looking for a new tool to trick yourself into thinking that you like what you hate, work on the real problem: the task itself, how you feel about it, and why.

If you can be honest with yourself, you can begin to look for a real solution instead of tricks. If you fix the root problem, you won't need a singing, twinkling mop to get things done.

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