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THE Procrastination Bully – a time thief

THE Procrastination Bully – a time thief


Question yourself “am I continually delaying or postponing taking action?”


My procrastination bully starts screaming in my head telling me that I should really go and rearrange my book shelf before I start working, because if I don’t, I WILL become distracted while I’m working OR, if I don’t watch the last episode of Master Chef, I won’t be able to concentrate. And, so, I dutifully succumb. Sadly, the domino effect takes over and can seriously sidetrack and blow my plans for that day.

Sound familiar? Well, don’t panic, procrastination is a complex, timeless and universal behaviour pattern and is real for many people including myself. It is a force that sidetracks your focus and prevents you from following through on your plans. Procrastination gurus such as Tim Urban suggest that some people may have a healthy relationship with deadlines and are more able to fight off the bully when panic sets in and they have an immediate obligation to fulfill. The problem is more hardcore when there are no short-term deadlines e.g. in the case of a having to write a thesis or doctorate. So, what can we do about it?



  1. Recognise and understand your bully when he shows up

Science has proven that your brain prefers immediate over future rewards. This means that even though your brain is cognizant of how good you’ll feel on your graduation day, it does have a tendency to favour feeling good right now. So, your brains desire for instant gratification can sidetrack you.

  1. Be actively and consciously aware

Your future self is capable of making plans: I will submit my thesis and graduate in December this year. But, only your present self is able take action because s/he is living right now in the present. So what happens? Your present self would prefer to watch that episode of Master Chef – instant gratification and there you are – back on the couch and not working! Remember, you can never catch up time. Don’t let him get the better of you.

  1. Just get your butt at your desk and commit

The problem is STARTING the work not DOING the work. Procrastinating is painful but can be relieved by taking action. You know that feeling – getting your active gear on in the morning and getting out of the door is way harder than the walk itself. And, you know how great you feel afterwards. Writing your thesis is exactly the same. The motivation comes after you’ve started the work, not before.  Get a grip on thesis-work-life balance.

  1. The consequences of your actions today DO affect your future goals

Even though your future goals seem far away, don’t think that your inactivity today won’t have a long-term effect. It does. Besides, rather save your “catching up” for real emergencies that may cross your path.

Procrastination is a complicated and complex topic – look out for upcoming blogs for more tips on beating the bully.