The Lie of Instant Gratification, Happens to You?

As I grew old, graduated from university, and found a job, other concepts within the mind of a procrastinator were revealed to me: guilt and shame.

The Woman Post | Andrea Gutiérrez

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When I was still in high school I watched a TED Talk by Tim Urban about procrastination and how it can affect our lives long term. At the time it just seemed funny to me watching someone explain the mind of a “master procrastinator” as a system with an instant gratification monkey messing around with our decisions until deadlines awake the Panic Monster. It was funny because I was a master procrastinator, and felt absolutely identified with the description. But as I grew old, graduated from university, and found a job, other concepts within the mind of a procrastinator were revealed to me: guilt and shame.

According to Urban’s hypothesis about a procrastinators mind, every person has three individuals controlling everything: a Rational-decision Maker behind the wheel and an Instant Gratification Monkey that takes control when procrastinating, until an upcoming deadline awake the Panic Monster, and so the monkey gets scared and the Rational-decision Maker retakes control to finish the work. The thing is that when there are no deadlines, there is no panic monster to scare the monkey, so the procrastination goes on, causing serious feelings of regret, guilt, and eventually shame for the uncompleted tasks. Ironically, a study published by the Journal of Social Behavior & Personality proofs that procrastination is used by a lot of people as a way to avoid shame.


If you are struggling with unfinished work, this vicious circle of shame and procrastination will likely make it worse, so here in The Woman Post, we share with you some things you can do to cope with the guilt and get to work.

Treat Yourself With Kindness

Self-compassion has been shown to help with the negative effects of shame. Imagine you are advising someone else on the same issue, you’ll probably treat them with compassion, and try to treat yourself the same way.

Acknowledge Your Current Situation

All of the work you have not completed is going to be there until you do it, accepting that can help you avoid the need of procrastinating. When you distract yourself with instant gratification activities while having uncompleted tasks on your to-do list, you are feeding the monster of guilt, the same one that you are trying to ignore. Accept the fact that procrastinating or feeling ashamed won’t make the work fade.

Make a Plan

It is more likely that you will continue procrastination if you want to complete a big project at once. Try to divide your work into smaller tasks, that way you can easily see the progress and that will motivate you to continue. There are a lot of tools and methods to help you with that, for example, the Bullet Journal method.

Remember your accomplishments and those other times when you had the work done, and try not to be so hard on yourself.

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