So, Li Yan, who has written a truly inspiring article here on We at Tenby, has been pestering me for the longest time to write this article but I've been so busy (yeah, right) and I never respond to any of the messages I get.
You can already guess what my biggest weakness is (in case you couldn't tell from the massive title of this article). In fact, I’ve already gotten distracted for the past 10 minutes right after I typed the previous sentence. It pretty much went like this: first, I checked my phone, (because I'm not going to miss a hot new Pepe meme on my watch!) Then, I made two trips to the kitchen, ransacking the fridge and cabinets -- even though I knew there was no food. I'm suffering from a case of insidious chronic procrastination. Please send help ( and memes).
Yep, I definitely have a problem.
Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me *pause music, whoops there I go again* and to fix a problem, you have to first admit it, then plan out a solution. Not just any solution, but a SMART one: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based -- all the SST readers can relate, I bet.
And, there I go again on another tangent.
Honestly, I'm aware that I've had a big issue with procrastination for quite a long time now, but the habit of procrastinating itself caused me to procrastinate the process of figuring out a solution to my constant procrastination. Yes, I repeated the same word and its tenses multiple times in a sentence. Sue me.
Finally, during the holidays in 2015, I mustered together enough self-restraint and gathered enough focus to think of a solution. T'was a bright day indeed: the day I deleted Facebook. I realised I'd been using it for hours on end in a day- which was bad; and the app hogged both storage and memory on my phone- which was worse. I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms for the next few days. I tried to find the app on my phone. I even heard phantom notifications. But weeks later, after I had purged myself from Facebook’s toxicity, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I savoured the sweet, sweet scent of liberation for a few months until I (unintentionally, I swear!) freely signed up yet again as a slave to technology. In short, I discovered 9Gag. It literally owned me. I craved and hungered for those spicy memes, and oh boy, did that app deliver! I spent time and energy that I'll never get back in exchange of laughing hysterically like an idiot in front of my phone’s screen. I told myself that was okay, since “laughter is the best medicine” and all, but the time I could have used to do more activities (or, in some cases, replied to my friends’ messages) slowly and surely slipped away from my grasp.
You think that sounds bad? Well, it gets worse. Anyone unlucky enough to barge into my room during my meme-browsing sessions found me laughing alone, no holds barred, as if I just lost my grip on sanity. As my mother can tell you, it's a pretty life-scarring thing to experience. Anyway, I became an addict. Trippin’ on memes day and night, and then regretting it all as I lay in my bed, too tired from laughing by myself to do anything remotely productive. 9Gag was my guiltiest pleasure. Pro tip, my fellow procrastinators and meme-lords: consistency is key.
This plagued me for more than a year until a stroke of enlightenment slapped some long-needed common sense into me once again. I deleted 9Gag, nuked my phone and only reinstalled the bare necessities. I felt great once again - accomplished, and brandishing my newfound time to battle the oncoming workload generously provided by the school. Yet, all good things must come to an end (yes, you can all guess what happens next). Not long after, I started to watch tons of YouTube videos after school. It’s funny how watching “Basics of Stoichiometry” can lead one to “1000 DEGREE KNIFE” videos. I got an epiphany then: the more I disconnect, the more I crave. The primate inside my head switches gear into hyperactive mode, causing me to constantly find more and more stimulation to fill that void in my cranium.
You may be thinking: “Hey Mr Head Boy, what does all this have to do with procrastination?” Well, dear reader, sure, it may seem slightly off-topic, but really, these addictions are the root of my procrastination. I found the cause, I just couldn't uproot it.
As fate had it, I stumbled across an article on Quora a few weeks ago, titled “What’s the Best Brain Hack You Know”. Naturally, the desire to solve my problem (coupled with the irrational need and want to become a superhuman someday) made me click on the link. (And you should, too!) Interestingly enough, it was written by a fellow Malaysian, Dean Yeong, which is pretty rare (trust the guy who’s been browsing the web the majority of his life, am I right?). He said:
“One of the biggest factors behind procrastination is the way our mind is wired to crave for instant gratifications and perfections. We want fast, good results and pleasures without putting in the work.”
I totally agree with what Mr Yeong said. I didn’t start writing because a) it was very hard to think of an idea and b) it would take a long time to write. I could just use that time to watch YouTube, play games, etc. which are far more entertaining and relaxing activities compared to writing an article. To sum up Mr Yeong’s article, we are able to trick our brains into starting work by thinking about the first 2 minutes of work. After thinking about it, push yourself to do it. If we don’t feel like doing it after 2 minutes, we can stop. Then we can console ourselves that “at least something was done, right?
But, as it turns out most people end up doing more than just 2 minutes of work, just like me. This is because doing a task requires “activation energy”, just like in Chemistry. A base amount of energy is needed for a chemical reaction to occur, and the same goes with work. The brain hack Mr Yeong described served as the perfect catalyst for me.
The 2-minute hack lowers the resistance because now, instead of thinking about the big to-do you need to get done, you’re focusing only on the first 2 minutes of it. When you complete the first two minutes, the momentum will carry you forward to finish the entire task.
I’ve definitely simplified the article. If you’re interested in understanding the reason behind this hack and want to read the full article, please click on the link below. I assure you, it is definitely worth a read! So far, this method worked out pretty well for me as it has helped me complete tasks that I struggled to accomplish. I hope it works for you all too! (The link can be found attached below.)