When you think of procrastination, you often think about it as a conscious choice. However, there is an abundance of sneaky ways procrastination happens even when you think you have it under control. One of the ways I see myself procrastinating is not so much putting off a specific task that I don’t want to do, but making myself really busy in everyday life. When we do this we’re basically procrastinating the possibility of feelings like boredom, fear of missing out, feeling like you don’t do enough compared to him/her… the list goes on and on. It’s kind of amusing when you start to notice it.
The reason I suddenly started thinking about procrastination is because this morning I honestly thought I was being Little Miss Productive when really I was just procrastination something that was actually a happy task. But it involved doing something I for some reason dread no matter the context, and so my mind went into stealth procrastination mode and thought it could get away with it.
Yesterday my student loan came in. Picture this: casually checking your bank balance on your phone to see if you have enough to buy this weekend’s groceries and $100 billion dollars has magically showed up on your account. Maybe not quite that much, but we’re talking six figures. Before you think I’m Richard Branson’s long-lost love child, the government funding for Norwegian students overseas comes in as one bulk and then you have to pay the tuition and the housing and make sure to spread the rest out over a whole year. So it’s a terrifyingly large sum of money that suddenly comes in.
I have a kind of irrational aversion to finance. Whether it’s personal finance or finance in a global sense, I just don’t like having anything to do with it. Which is why I’m always filled with terror when I have to go on my online bank and… you know, manage something. Pay bills. Transfer money. Check my balance. Before I went to bed last night, I reminded myself – you need to put away that money first thing in the morning! You don’t want to go out on the town with that kind of money available on your VISA card!
I got up at 6 the next morning and by 10 o’clock this was the conversation I had with myself:
Me: HOLD UP. Why are we procrastinating? Why has it taken me 3 hours to complete a task that can be done in 5 minutes?
Ego: Who, me? Procrastinating? That’s ridiculous! Why would I procrastinate? *nervous laugh*
Me: Well, it’s kind of annoying that it was on my list to do first thing in the morning. I have now been for a run, showered, eaten 2 breakfasts, read blogs online, formatted my external hard drive… and now I’m doing dishes. Again. What happened to first thing in the morning?
Ego: Geez…! Okay, then. I’ll prove it to you. I’m not procrastinating. Let’s sit down at the computer, then, and log on to the online bank.
Me: Okay, then.
Ego:… but we’ll write a blog post first, yeah…?
I mean, it’s not even scary! I have to log on to my bank because I have soooooo much money. It’s not like it’s a terrible situation to be in. But my ego – who doesn’t like things like banks and money transfers – has made a full-time job out of making me avoid this.
So what do I mean by this “ego” business?
For someone who is maybe not too familiar with the term, the ‘ego’ is that voice within you that you’re constantly having an inner dialogue with. The one that tells you when you’re ugly and stupid and that you failed yet again and the one who points out when something is scary and you should just go back into your comfort zone and have a good ol’ party in there where it’s nice and safe. (The ego does a lot of funny stuff, but that’s the easiest way I know how to explain it).
Things start to get really interesting once you become aware of it. Sadly, a lot of people never really get the fact that they don’t have to listen to their own thoughts; or rather that they can choose which thoughts to listen to and which to let go of. They go on autopilot and never experience that feeling of separation from their ego.
It takes a lot of work to be (or at least try to be) aware of what’s going on in your own head at all times. The best way to it is a cliché, of course: be present. Just be freakin’ present in the moment. That’s all it takes. Easy, right? Ummm, not. It is a full-time job, trying to be mindful and present at all times. To not let your mind wander. To consciously choose which thoughts to listen to.
For the past 6 months or so I have been shining a big, bright spotlight on my ego and it is almost hilarious to observe how it’s fighting for survival. I did all the fear-busting you can imagine. I do the whole “choose love over fear” and “find the loving perspective” and I am slowly turning into quite the expert in the art of making choices based on self-love and self-nourishment.
My ego is all like, Whaaat? But I thought we agreed you just weren’t a healthy person? And that we weren’t gonna try that because people are going to think we’re stupid? And that we can’t do that one thing because once when we were 6 years old someone told us we weren’t good at it?
But the more aware you become of your ego, your ego just discovers more sneaky ways to keep a certain amount of control and power over you. For me, procrastination is a big one. Even when I don’t think I’m procrastinating, my ego is hard at work making me mindlessly avoid the things I’m not 100% comfortable with. Whether it be avoiding confrontation with money (too much of it or too little of it), busying up my weeks to the point where I suddenly ask myself “…why am I forcing myself to do all these things in one week? No-one is making me…”, not being able to commit to goodbye parties and barbecues (because it’s sad! I don’t want to think about the fact that I won’t be seeing these people for a while), not making good food choices every day of this week (hello apple pie on Tuesday and Danishes on Wednesday).
Procrastination is a sneaky thing. So is your ego. Let’s try to be more sneaky than them, shall we?
ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT, I’m going to transfer the money into my savings account now…