Throughout most of my life, I have been a procrastinator. In some cases this has been very much to my detriment. However, often, my other abilities have been able to pull me through to success when it really counted. Still, to those around me the length of time it takes me to complete certain things is frustrating. Even more difficult, is the frenzy that over takes me when it becomes time to complete a two-week task in just a day or two because I have just now begun to undertake the task now that the deadline seems to loom large enough on the horizon for me to take seriously. It doesn’t take much analysis to see the folly of proceeding with one’s life in the this manner. It would be much better for me, and I would be a much happier person if I did not function in this way and instead were able to work even a small bit at a time far in advance of a deadline. But, for some reason, I can’t seem to “force” a change in this aspect of my person.
Tonight, something happened that made a piece (possibly only a small piece) of this puzzle a little clearer to me. For the better part of a week or more now, I have an Amazon order that I want to place. This order is for things I want and need and those things will bring both me and my family pleasure and happiness. Yet, the order has yet to be made. Largely, this is due to the non-deadline nature of the order. After all, we aren’t talking about anyone going hungry here. But, less than an hour ago, I ordered a new monitor (not from Amazon). The intention to make this order has existed for less than 4 hours. Although I have been following the prices of monitors and had chosen the kind of monitor and even the brand if it could be made to work, I haven’t ordered it because of the cost and the mistaken impression that my lovely wife would not approve at this time. Today, during the course of conversation this revealed itself to be a false assumption coinciding perfectly with an Internet posting showing that the exact monitor I have been looking at was on sale for a price well below the lowest price it had been seen for in the past. So, I ordered it.
This seemingly borrowed urgency came from a single source. Fear. With such a good price on exactly the right monitor there existed the possibility that my ability to get that price would disappear if the monitor was sold out or the price raised in response to demand. And so, the task was completed in record time. (The couple of hours of delay were the result of factors including my baby’s need to eat, a showing for our house, and so on.)
The obvious question is can this sense of urgency be faked? I can’t manufacture fear. My brain is too intelligent to be fooled by lying to myself (as I assume most people’s brains are) so there isn’t a way to pretend that the products that I need to order will disappear. Indeed, one could argue that by waiting I increase the odds of them going on sale before I make the order. False deadlines don’t work either. I’ve been trying that game for years with no success. Again, lying to yourself is seldom an effective tool. Instead, I find myself searching for a mechanism to mimic the fear. Is there a way to create a real non-lie synthetic version of fear? Something that compels one to action in the same way as a desire to avoid an imminent, unpleasant, probable outcome does, while missing one or more of those factors?
If I find it, I solve not only my own procrastination problem, but potentially that of many others. I hope it’s patentable.