Procrastination Nation: The Sad Secret You Need to Know

When I was in college, there was one thing my friends and I said over and over, like an unhelpful mantra: “I don’t feel like studying now. I’ll study (Choose one: in the morning, tomorrow, over the weekend, later tonight, after dinner, etc.) when I’m (Choose one: fresh, rested, less anxious, not hungry, more in the mood, etc.)”

Basically, what all this talk came down to was the belief that we all thought that at some point in the future, we would feel more like studying or writing that paper. And we all finally did get down to doing those things, usually a day or two before a test or deadline.

As a practicing procrastinator for most of my life, I have constantly put things off, waiting for that magical time when universal forces would come together and I could proceed with enthusiasm. I would want to write that paper. I would want to clean my kitchen. I would want to research health insurance plans.

But here’s the secret I learned: That time never comes. If you don’t want to write a paper today, you’re not going to want to write it tomorrow or next week. If the thought of cleaning your kitchen depresses you tonight, then you’re not going to wake up tomorrow with the thought, “I can’t wait to clean my kitchen.” And let’s face it, most people are never going to enjoy reading insurance details.

So the secret is simply this: When you sit down to do a dreaded task and realize you don’t feel like it, you also need to realize you probably are never going to feel like it. So buckle down, and start despite your feelings.

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