How ironic it was, to feel free by being a slave of my desires
“Next week pa naman”, “Marami pang time”, “May bukas pa” — and the next thing you know, you are already sipping a cup of coffee with strained eyes, taking the risk of beating the deadline. Fortunately, you made it this time, just like the other times. It is no big deal at all. You won the race once more. And so this cycle of procrastination repeats—the never-ending saga of Mañana habit, or “Mamaya na” habit, which we adapted hundreds of years ago from the Spaniards.
Ever since the lockdown began, I fell victim to this ‘habit’ hole. Never was I the type to do things the last day, hour, or minute. Yet, with the overwhelming comfort of flexibility I had now, I felt free—perhaps too free. I can watch any show anytime I want. I can read all the e-books or novels bookmarked on my phone or waiting on my bookshelf. I can get the rest I so longed for. So it is no wonder now how the temptation of comfort effortlessly breaks the door of self-discipline that I struggle to build nowadays.
One day, we discussed in my internship about productivity, and that discussion opened my eyes as it slapped me with the consequences of the actions I kept rationalizing over. I felt guilty, extremely even. I pondered how ironic it was, to feel free by being a slave of my desires. And so, I would like to share the learnings I got from that discussion with whoever is reading this. Together, let us break free from this Mañana habit.
To start, it is necessary that we first analyze why we procrastinate. First, it is because we feel demotivated. We can not light a fire within to start doing whatever it is we need to do. We have no energy to sit or start. Second, we feel overwhelmed. There are just so many tasks to be done that we do not even know where to start. Finally, we find the tasks unpleasant. Indeed, how can we even encourage ourselves to carry out something we do not even enjoy accomplishing or like doing?
Now that we know the causes of our procrastination, we can easily align the countermeasures we must do. When we feel demotivated, let us make up a reward system for ourselves. By completing the tasks we must do, we should reward ourselves afterward with something that we want. For example, for game enthusiasts out there, before allowing yourself to play a round or two of Mobile Legends, you must first finish reading a chapter or two of your textbook or solve a certain number of problems. I must say, self-discipline will be very crucial for this as well. We must, at all costs, control ourselves from getting our rewards before even accomplishing our tasks.
When we are overwhelmed, we should break our tasks into a set of smaller parts. This way, it will be more manageable for us. One example of this is task batching, wherein we will group tasks per batch based on similarities or objectives then do these in one sitting per batch. For instance, on our to-do list, we have (1) writing essays, (2) reading assignments, (3) scripting a story, (4) reviewing for a quiz, (5) video editing, and (6) digital brochure making. We can group 1 and 3 since both entail composing literary pieces, then 2 and 4 since both involve reading, and lastly, 5 and 6 because we will need to edit both digitally.
When we find tasks unpleasant, we should visualize the circumstances of not doing them. We must be matured enough to know already that not everything we do will always be something we look forward to doing. The concept of a reward system may also be useful here. Let us not overestimate the unpleasantness and give it a try. We might find these tasks were not as pleasant as we thought them to be.
Everything we do has underlying outcomes. Whether we will be satisfied or regret these outcomes, in the end, depends on the route we take. Keep in mind that time is the scarcest resource. The world will not stop spinning, nor can it rewind. Better act now than regret later.
LAYOUT BY: Sigrid Deryll Q. Dy