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Episode 120 | PROCRASTINATION or LAZINESS?


This episode is sponsored by Petra Kolb

Laziness is the mother of all evils. Sophocles

In last weeks show, which was researched and written by Christina Littleson, I dived into the subject of technology addiction and how to beat it. If that’s something that would be of interest to you please do go back and check it out.


Today though I’m taking on a topic that comes up again and again on the social media accounts that support the show. Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but they are very different. Procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act.

Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in iron chains. Sir Fowell Buxton

I wanted to tackle this as it’s something I’ve struggled with now and again. Even as I sit down to create this episode today I’m allowing myself to get distracted as I go. I could’ve finished it this morning but I decided to go out for lunch instead. I know that I have a lot to do this week, I want to record at least 4 and hopefully 6 new shows over the next 3 days, but I’m kinda tired after several weeks of fight work and my brain hasn’t quite moved into the right gear to get these shows done.


I have only started moving on these shows today in fact because come this Sunday, I’ll have none in the bank. If I wasn’t to start recording now there would be dead air next week. Also, I completed last week’s episode this morning and I feel kinda that I deserve a rest and that’s been holding me back on getting into this one. If I was to record only the previous show and take time out however I’d have to pick it all up again next week, when again I will run out of shows. What’s driving me now is that I want to get back to my own projects. This is one of my projects, but I am desperate to get back to my own film development work which got put off due to the huge glut of fight direction work I had to take care of. I’ve talked about drive before, there’s an episode all about it in fact but the struggle is real.

Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder. Mason Cooley

So, procrastination involves delaying unnecessarily, whereas laziness involves being voluntarily unwilling to exert any effort at all. Accordingly, procrastination is not laziness, and it’s possible to procrastinate even if you aren’t lazy, or to be lazy but not to procrastinate.


For example, someone who wants to work on a project may delay doing so (i.e., procrastinate) because they don’t know where to start, even though they aren’t lazy. Alternatively, someone who doesn’t want to work hard on a project because they don’t want to exert any effort (i.e., because they’re lazy) may get started on the project without any delay (i.e., without procrastinating), because of some incentive.


As such, it’s wrong to assume that procrastination is just a form of laziness, that procrastinators are just lazy, or that procrastinators don’t care about their tendency to procrastinate. In fact, procrastinators are usually industrious people, who are highly motivated to take action and overcome their procrastination. As such, they often intend to work as hard or harder than non-procrastinators, and may even work harder in practice.


In “Procrastination is Not Laziness” by David Cain one person describes their experience with this issue as follows:

Let’s clear something up: I am not lazy. I have no shortage of energy, I have no interest in lounging on the couch, I don’t have TV service, I never wear pyjamas all day. Waking up after 7:30 is sleeping in for me, even on a Saturday. I actually like working. Yet I exhibit a consistent failure to work through my day-to-day tasks, errands and projects in any manner than could be considered timely. Nearly everything must reach some sort of ‘scary point’ for me to finally move on it. Like when I waited till the last possible day to submit my lease renewal, having had three months of lead time. In the end it took about fifteen minutes, but evidently I needed to be a day away from losing my home in order to do it.

Procrastination and laziness can also be connected, primarily in cases where people procrastinate, at least in part, due to laziness. For example, if someone repeatedly delays working on tasks simply because they don’t want to exert necessary effort, even though they know that this will lead to negative outcomes for them (e.g., low-quality work), then that person is procrastinating out of laziness, and could be characterized as a lazy procrastinator.

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy. Wayne Gretzky

Some people procrastinate due to the prioritization of short-term mood regulation over long-term achievement, in the sense that people procrastinate because they want to feel comfortable in the short term, even if this means that they fail to achieve their long-term goals.


A type of procrastination that laziness is particularly associated with is hedonistic procrastination, which involves postponing things voluntarily due to prioritization of enjoyable activities or due to lack of caring. This type of procrastination is contrasted primarily with anxious procrastination, which involves postponing things despite an intention to work on them and despite the awareness that the delay is self-defeating and irrational.


Of course, this connection doesn’t mean that procrastination is always caused by laziness. Rather, it means that procrastination can sometimes be caused—at least partially—by laziness.

The problem with waiting until tomorrow is that when it finally arrives, it is called today. Jim Rohn

Procrastination usually occurs when factors such as anxiety and fear of failure outweigh people’s self-control and motivation, which may also be weakened by issues such as exhaustion or far-future outcomes.


Under this psychological framework, laziness is a factor that plays an opposing role to self-control and motivation, similarly to factors such as anxiety. Specifically, the more unwilling someone is to exert effort, the more likely they are to unnecessarily delay exerting it. People may mistakenly assume that someone, including them, is procrastinating due to laziness, when in fact their behaviour is driven by other issues, such as exhaustion, apathy, or depression. Even in cases where people procrastinate to some degree due to laziness, that doesn’t mean that laziness is the only—or main—cause of their procrastination.


Procrastination has many other causes beyond laziness, such as task aversion, perfectionism, anxiety, fear of failure, exhaustion, abstract goals, and far-future outcomes.


Once we can identify what procrastination and laziness are and what possible connections, they have to each other then we can start to find ways of tackling the outcomes, which are in reality the same. Sloppy, unfinished or incomplete work, unfocused effort and poor results.


To stop procrastinating right now, identify the smallest possible step you can take to make progress toward your goals, and try to start with just that tiny step, while giving yourself permission to make mistakes during the attempt. For example, if you need to write an essay, you can decide to start by writing just a single sentence, while accepting that it won’t be perfect, and might even be quite bad at first.


In addition, you can also make it easier to get started, for example by preparing everything that you need for your work without yet trying to start the work itself, and also make it harder to procrastinate, for example by eliminating potential distractions from your environment.


To overcome procrastination in the long term you should look back at my episode on setting up smart goals as by setting yourself specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound tasks you will be far more likely to achieve them. Please go back to Episode 72 to find out more.


Another thing you can do is to identify situations where you delay unnecessarily and by using high level thinking, the art of working on your life and career at the same tome you are kiving and working in it, and figure out how you procrastinate (e.g., by browsing social media or in my case it’s often youtube). Figure out where and when you procrastinate (e.g., on starting or finishing tasks, in the morning or evening, at home or the library) and figure out why you procrastinate (e.g., due to perfectionism, fear, anxiety, depression, ADHD, sensation seeking, or abstract goals).


That’s your call to action today. Stop and self assess based on what I have just sain and then trial some of these techniques to get yourself moving again.


  • Break tasks into manageable steps (e.g., sub-tasks you can easily complete).

  • Commit to a tiny first step (e.g., working for just 2 minutes).

  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes (e.g., by accepting that your work will be imperfect).

  • Make it easier to do things (e.g., by preparing everything you need in advance).

  • Make tasks more enjoyable (e.g., by listening to music).

  • Make it harder to procrastinate (e.g., by eliminating potential distractions).

  • Delay before indulging the impulse to procrastinate (e.g., by counting to 10 first).

  • Set deadlines (e.g., by deciding that you’ll complete a certain task by tomorrow evening).

  • Plan how you will deal with obstacles (e.g., by deciding that if X happens, then you’ll do Y).

  • Identify and address your fears (e.g., by considering what advice you would give to a friend).

  • Increase your motivation (e.g., by marking streaks of days on which you achieve your goals).

  • Increase your energy (e.g., by taking necessary breaks).

  • Improve your environment (e.g., by adding reminders of your goals).

  • Use social techniques (e.g., emulating a role model).Use time-management techniques (e.g., alternating consistently between work and rest).

  • Create starting rituals (e.g., counting down from five to zero).

  • Start with your best or worst task (e.g., your easiest or hardest one).

  • Develop self-efficacy (e.g., by reflecting on your successes).

  • Develop self-compassion (e.g., by reminding yourself that everyone makes mistakes).

  • Treat underlying conditions (e.g., ADHD).

  • For more information about these techniques and how to use them effectively, see the guide on how to stop procrastinating.


You can use any combination of techniques that you want, but should start by focusing on a few that seem most relevant to your situation and remember too that by writing your plans down you are 42 percent more likely to succeed if you write stuff down.


Remember that imperfect action is generally better than no action, so you’ll benefit more from trying to do just some of these things, than from getting stuck doing nothing at all. Furthermore, the longer you delay, the more likely you are to do nothing, so you should start right now, while understanding that you’ll probably get some things wrong at first, but that you’ll be able to improve your approach over time.


If you feel overwhelmed, just start with the first technique in this section (committing to a tiny step), until you feel ready to do more. I used this quote in another recent episode but it bears re-use here.

Failing forward is the ability to get back up after you've been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction. John C. Maxwell

In next week’s show I’ll be bringing you another 3 messages from YouTube sensation Demi Demi. Please do join me there.


Today though I’ll end with some words from Pope Paul VI who said

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.



Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!


  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu and the exec producer this season is Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital

  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website filmproproductivity.com

  • You can follow my personal account on Twitter and Instagram @fight_director or follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @Filmproproductivity

  • Please support the show by subscribing, spreading the word and leaving an AWESOME review.


References:

https://solvingprocrastination.com/laziness/


Season 9 Executive Producer: Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital


2-time winners of 'Social Media Agency of the Year' at the Prestige Awards; Artos Digital specialise in marketing communications, coaching and personal branding. Owner Christopher McPhillips launched the business from his home in Bathgate and now works alongside his wife, Electra, for specialised event-management and fundraising. Enjoying a broad portfolio of clients over the years, ranging from established enterprises to start-up's - a good fit for Artos Digital given their adaptable and agile approach. Christopher and Electra have combined their talents for three significant clients this past year: Reconnect, a SCIO who run the Regal Theatre in Bathgate; Pro2 Wrestling in Ayr; and Puppet Animation Scotland in Edinburgh.


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Web - https://artosdigital.co.uk


Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu


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