Planning with the monkey
One of my favourite blog posts of all time is Why Procrastinators Procrastinate by Tim Urban. In it, he describes two different “brains”, one of the procrastinator, which looks like this:
And the brain of the non-procrastinator, which looks like this:
As you can see, the main difference between the two is the instant gratification monkey. This monkey derails the rational decision maker constantly. He directs the procrastinator to seek food (even if he’s not hungry), meander through the internet, take naps and clean the house. All of this instead of working.
My brain looks like the procrastinators brain. Except the monkey is not a cute, innocent looking creature. I have an instant gratification gorilla called Dave and he is very prepared to beat the daylights out of my rational decision making side as often as possible.
So Dave is regularly able to derail my day. But it’s okay, I’m usually able to recover some productivity. And on deadline days, Dave lets me have an extra bit of time as long as I feed him properly.
A week with no Dave
Dave and I have gotten quite good at living together. However, I have a major problem:
I never take into account that Dave will still be around tomorrow, next week or next month
For example, I’ve said to myself that next week I have no appointments for anything. So I’ll be able to put in at least 50 hours of work. Which would be fine, if Dave didn’t exist.
But he does.
And so I will get some work done.
And Dave will take his share of time too.
I did the same thing with this week. I estimated the amount of time I would have to work based on the idea that I would be completely rational and able to stay focused for an outrageous amount of time. And I do the same with most of my work.
When I then get to the time that has been planned, I realise that Dave is still around. And I’m sent into a panic when I try and achieve maximum output when, in fact, I have a giant gorilla distracting me.
What are you on about Rowan?
Hold your horses (and monkeys), there’s a point to this.
When I plan my life and time, I do so with the maximum objectives in mind. As if all my time is spent optimally and there are no hiccups along the way. And 99 times out of 100, there will be something that sets me off course. Whether it’s internal, with my instant gratification gorilla distracting me, or external, with my stuff being stolen
This makes me feel like I’m consistently not living up to my expectations. As if I’m failing, again and again.
But I’m not.
I’m actually just plodding along at normal Rowan pace. Though my expectations are set way above that. So I feel as if they are constantly being missed.
I try to plan my life as if there is no Dave. But I should plan it with the active recognition that he is around. That he will be here tomorrow, next week and next month. Therefore I can continue to fight him (and lose) or I can accept that he is going to be here and make room for him.
I should plan for a distraction. For tiredness. For unexpected events.
I need to plan with Dave. Set up time to drift off, allow for naps and the odd derailment.
And in doing this, I’ll set more reasonable and achievable expectations for myself. Allowing me to be less on edge and allowing Dave the play time he needs.
Image was taken at Cape Point a few weeks ago. I’ve uploaded a different picture of this guy before, but I’m still upset he stole our Doritos
Song of the day: Fin Evans – Never Forget You (Feat. Alex Foster)