Funnily enough – I’ve been postponing this post for quite a while, but it feels like the proper time to write this now. Mostly this will be a post to myself for when I need that kick in the butt to do something I really don’t want to.
Simon shared a terrible word with us the other day. I never heard it before, but ever since it follows me into my dreams. It’s procrastination (or “Prokrastination” – if you want to make it sound that tiny bit more terrible, say it in german). The word itself is a minger already, but it describes a state of mind that has the power to make your life terrible:
Here is the Wikipedia-definition:
In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.
So yeah – everybody has that and it’s not really that bad you might think. You’d be wrong. At least I was. Procrastination is the single most terrible thing that makes me not be as good as I would like to be in completing oh-so-many tasks. It’s basically that moment when – instead of writing this difficult email to that important person who might significantly help me out… I just want to check if something has happened on Facebook. Or Twitter. And usually it has, so there is some time to be wasted. But then controlling yourself not to waste time on the social networks is easy because it’s just too obvious. My next step would probably be news-pages. Since everyone is interested in news and the world, it is important to see if anything new has happened around the globe. The world is sort of big, so usually there’s always something going on and – whoops – I spend some more time. Next up: Old emails. Is there something in my email folder that has been over due? Yeeees, I’m sure there was this one other thing I remember. However long it takes, I will find it and deal with this issue first because it’s older and therefore more pressing. And because I’ve been postponing this mail so long it will take some time to answer it properly.
And suddenly: Bloody hell, I need to deal with taxes… When am I gonna do that? I don’t want to postpone this any longer so I will do it now. And taxes take time, trust me.
By now you will realize that quite a bit of stuff has happened, but that one important email is far out of sight. Worse. It became forgotten.
That – in short – is procrastination. And it sucks bad, if you don’t fight it.
But what is the reason for procrastination? Is it a bad structure? or a general issue with organization?
It’s Fear. The fear of failure.
When you get overwhelmed and have this one terribly difficult task ahead of you that you don’t know how to handle – You paralyze. And when the first shock is gone, you get terribly good at making an excuse why you couldn’t do that in the first place. All kinds of things come into your head that keep you from doing this one terribly difficult piece of work. In the last year, I have discovered that fear truly is a bitch. In some obvious cases, fear is easy to spot. But when it comes to your personality, and e.g. the fear of rejection (from a Mentor, a possible VC, or maybe just that girl over there…) it’s difficult to acknowledge fear as the thing that kept you from acting upon. And fighting fear is like fighting gravity – it’s always there, it won’t go away and you always need to work actively against it.
It comes in ALL kinds of shapes and really NOBODY is exempted. Different people may have different fears, but do not think that there are people out there who don’t feel fear. What makes the difference?
– Person feels fear, suddenly wants to do something else. Walks away, finds tons of excuses.
– Person feels fear, suddenly wants to do something else. Does it anyway. Feels a little less fear.
So who will I choose to be tomorrow…?