Why do we procrastinate the things we enjoy doing?

“So, are you working on that blog post, or are you just not feeling it tonight?”

I was reading through old Gchat conversations between me and my friend Paula. My friend Maranie (who is staying with me for a week) was in the kitchen eating leftovers of the dinner I made hours earlier.

I seriously don’t understand how someone can eat dinner at 9PM.

“Did you look at my computer screen and see that I’m clearly procrastinating?”

“No! Don’t feel bad—“

“I don’t even know why I’m procrastinating! I like doing this. I love writing random posts.” Which, was completely true. I love sharing stories about the people I meet, and the conversations I have. I love when I get a text or Facebook message from someone saying, “That’s exactly how I think!”

“Now that,” she replied, “Would make a good blog post—because I do that all the time.”

*And now you’re all caught up to the present moment, because that little exchange took place thirty seconds ago.

Unfortunately, the heavens of Google did not align on this particular search. I wish I could tell you I found the specific reason on why we would ever delaying doing the things we enjoy. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

That being said, here are the top reasons in the running:

  1. The payoff does not outweigh the cost.

Two weeks ago, I called my aunt and drilled her for an hour for tips on how to be present and productive. I explained I was trying to freelance more, but wasn’t setting aside time in my schedule to sit down and write. I felt lazy, and a little guilty for promising someone more time than I seemed able to give. My aunt asked me about compensation, and I told her—to which she replied, “Maybe, deep down, you’re just not seeing the payoff.”

That comment stung. I am a huge advocate in doing things for the sole sake that you love doing it. That being said, when I write a post, and my Google Analytics says less than 100 people read it, it’s hard to justify the time. [Like I said, this one stung. That paragraph was really, really hard for me to type.]

  1. You cannot accomplish something without a kick of adrenaline.

Here is the rule of Parkinson’s Law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Meaning, if you give yourself two weeks to do a project, it will take two weeks. However, how many times have you forced yourself to do that same project in two hours, simply because you had to?

This happened to me when I started my current job. My boss gave me the task of rewriting the website…the scope of planning ended there. With no deadlines, no targets, and no direction, all I could say was, “So…this could take nine months, or it could take nine days.”

Eventually, our CEO got fed up with our homepage and told me I had six weeks to fix it.

  1. You’re using perfectionism as a crutch.

I’ve actually written about this one before. When I worked in sales, we referred to this as planning to plan. We would waste time preparing our call lists, collecting data, and scheduling our morning—instead of just hitting the damn phones. When I created this blog, I can remember spending hours looking over every single WordPress theme known to mankind (which is hilarious, because I’m still not thrilled about the one I chose).

One of my favorite bloggers is Casey from Fed+Fit. I can remember listening to one of her podcasts, and she said, “If you ever want to start a blog, and think, ‘It’s kind of all already been done, and what unique things would I have to say?’ Squash those thoughts, because nobody can do it like you. And you never know where it can go. So if that’s something in your heart and a passion that you have, please chase that.”

Those words helped me realize I should stop searching for the perfect solution, because things would never turn out how I planned anyway.

Maranie came in from checking on her car (which has already received a ticket from the DC parking authority), and I asked, “Why do you put off the things you love doing?”

“I think—notice I said think, and also don’t quote me because I hate being quoted—it’s because the things we love doing, demand a lot of us. It’s not like knitting or crocheting or something mindless; these things take mental capacity. I’m not sure how to finish the second part of this thought. Maybe you could write it better than I’m saying it?”

[I’ll take my best stab at it, and you can punch me later for directly quoting you in this post.]

I think what she’s trying to say is, we procrastinate because we actually give a fuck.

1 Comment
  1. Love the post! Its so true (- referring to the last paragraph), I am learning something new at the moment and just find myself procrastinating way too much (so I went to Google too and found this! 😀 ) even though I really want to be doing it but its just so many new things to learn and comprehend..

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You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.