The Weirdest Kind of Procrastination

Here’s a weird thing I do: sometimes I procrastinate doing very small things, for no real reason at all.

I’ve read lots about procrastination (which is a fun way to procrastinate, by the way), and in general, it seems we procrastinate because distractions are so much more instantly gratifying and pleasurable than doing the Tough Work we need to get done. That makes a certain amount of sense and I definitely battle with this (hello Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and the whole goddamn internet today). But the kind of procrastination I’m talking about is different.

Sometimes I’ll have a small task to do, like “message my friend and tell him we’ll meet him at 7 for dinner.” That task couldn’t be easier. Look, he’s even online right now. Just, message him! And yet, oddly, my brain says “oh this is so easy, I can just do it later, no rush no worries.” Or maybe I’m writing some code and I get a compile error that I’m missing a character. It’s a one letter fix, but I say “oh that’s easy, I can fix that in a little bit” and I go do something else to bide my time.

I don’t entirely know why I do this. At some level, my brain knows the thing to do is easy, but it won’t do it. It kind of feels like my brain thinks because the task is so easy, it’s not really worth doing at all?

It kind of reminds me of this TED talk by Derek Silvers, where he says “telling someone your goal makes you less likely to do it.” Maybe that’s it? Maybe my brain thinks a task is so easy that it’s already done?

Speed of Light