How many of us are procrastinators? What Tim Urban Teaches us About the Mind of a Master Procrastinator.
About the Author
Tim is the owner of the site Wait But Why, where he discusses his “psychological flaws.” He is also a founding partner in ArborBridge, a provider of educational services.
The Procrastinator’s System
Tim wanted to describe the thoughts that go through the minds of procrastinators.
As a result, he created a framework made up of three characters to symbolize the procrastinator’s system:
- the Rational Decision-Maker
- the Instant Gratification Monkey
- the Panic Monster
The Rational Decision-Maker
Making an intelligent choice to take action is the responsibility of the rational decision-maker. The Rational Decision-Maker enables us to perform actions that no other can do.
- Visualize the future
- See the big picture
- Make long-term plans
The Instant Gratification Monkey
The Instant Gratification Monkey lives completely in the present time. He has no memory of the past, no knowledge of the future, and he only cares about two things: easy and fun.
Agreement & Conflict
The decision to engage in simple, enjoyable activities can occasionally make sense. Because of this, the Rational Decision Maker and the Monkey come to an understanding, resulting in some fantastic play and good times.
However, there are occasions when it makes sense to undertake things that are more difficult and unpleasant. This situation causes conflict and the Monkey often wins, when the Monkey wins, we procrastinate.
When we procrastinate, easy and fun activities happen when they are not supposed to be happening. This leads to fun that isn’t actually fun (time spent procrastinating leads to guilt, dread, anxiety, and self-hatred).
The Panic Monster
The Panic Monster is inactive most of the time, but he wakes up anytime:
- a deadline gets too close, or
- there’s a danger of public embarrassment.
Two kinds of procrastination
There are two types of procrastination:
- Procrastination on hard things with deadlines
- Procrastination on hard things without deadlines
For the first type of procrastination, we naturally deal with it. Effects of procrastination are short-term because the Panic Monster gets involved when deadlines are near.
However, the second type of procrastination is dangerous. Because there are no deadlines, so the Panic Monster never gets triggered, and we are allowed to procrastinate forever.
Even worse, the second type is often less visible. It’s usually suffered quietly and privately which leads to long-term unhappiness and regret.
In conclusion, procrastination had harmful effects, and was surprised to know that most people with the habit had regrets. If there is no deadline, a person may never do the work and regret it later in life. Also, while working under pressure, people tend to make more mistakes. Thus, this video remains a reminder that procrastination leads to unhealthy habits and bad outcomes, while it is important to find a way to “scare the monkey.”
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