Here’s a story about a mean little monkey.
I have never thought of myself as a procrastinator- until I heard what this word actually meant. Woop, there it is.
After a crash course of internet self-psycho-analysis I decided to do something about it. But after I organize my M&M’s by color and make an Instagram story with my cat. He’s going to do something cute, I just know it. Any day now.
In one of my attempts to feel useful and intellectual, I scrolled through some of the TED talks and the Gods send me a message via Tim Urban and his mean little monkey.
In this TED Talk, internet writer Tim Urban explains what happens in the mind of a procrastinator—and why one specific form of waiting until the last minute leaves a lot of people feeling unfulfilled.
For procrastinators and non-procrastinators alike, both brains have a rational decision-maker in them, he says. It’s just that procrastinators fall prey to the instant gratification monkey, a feeling that encourages fun tasks over productive, sensible ones. Ultimately, he says rational decisions and instant gratification are both needed—just at the right times.
“That’s why there’s an overlap; sometimes they agree,” Urban says. “But other times it makes much more sense to be doing things that are harder and less pleasant for the sake of the big picture, and that’s when we have a conflict.”
As deadlines approach, this conflicts plays out in a place called the dark playground, where leisurely activities take over— that is, until the panic monster arrives, and the procrastinator kicks into high-gear.
Urban says that everyone procrastinates, but that deadline-driven procrastination differs from situational procrastination, like waiting to start a business. When there’s no real deadline, the panic monster doesn’t appear to give that extra push—which Urban says is the real source of some people’s frustration.
“It’s not that they’re cramming for some project; it’s that long-term procrastination has made them feel like a spectator at times in their own lives,” Urban says. “The frustration is not that they couldn’t achieve their dreams; it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them.”
Now that’s what I call having some insight. Unfortunately, Tim didn’t say anything about how to kick the mean little monkey’s ass if there’s no panic monster and start chasing your dreams. Apparently, that’s the well-kept secret of non-procrastinating successful folks. And there is a whole other word for those kind of people – monkey trainer.