Procrastination, an “Urban” Ideology

By Siya Chhabra (‘23)

Image Courtesy Of Women in Business 

As most people know, procrastination, or adopting any delaying tactics is the enemy of success. The greatest thief that this world has ever seen, is procrastination, especially the domino-like effect it entrances on humans of all ages. It can be most-definitely negatively impactful, and possesses serious repercussions and reverberations under any circumstance. Here’s the thing, understanding the root cause of procrastination truly can help us, as humans, and especially as students. In his witty and matter-of-fact TED talk, entitled  “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator,” Tim Urban, the renowned co-founder of the blog Wait But Why, which has acquired millions of zealous followers, including those of distinction, like Tesla founder Elon Musk, advises us how exactly to be responsible for this undertaking. Within his TED Talk, Urban explains that procrastination does not in itself make any sense. None at all. This is because he, himself,  has never been able to break his tendency of not immediately making it a priority to accomplish tasks. In an amusing and insightful manner, Urban inspires us to think more about what we’re actually doing, before time catches up with us. 

In the preamble of his talk, Urban alludes to the  fact that he pulled not one, but two consecutive all-nighters to complete a 90-page essay that should have been written throughout his entire school year. After this, Urban introduces that he was told that his essay was some of the best writing his professor had ever witnessed. Then, Urban says, “That did not happen.” After presenting the veracity of his statement, Tim Urban, now with a very energized and intrigued audience, contributes his “extremely intricate” visual representations of the mind, which look like the image below. 

 Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but nevertheless, his explanation using the stick-figured illustrations of the feelings we obtain when procrastinating were no less effective than that would have been shared with the utilization of convoluted statistics and particulars. Through his illustrations, Urban presented a Rational Decision Maker, the Instant Gratification Monkey, and the Panic Monster, each authentically representing the distinct sensibilities of those who waste time, and those who utilize it to its maximum potential. As human beings, we always wish to enjoy, in any circumstance, even when it’s well, the last thing that should be done, which is where the Instant Gratification Monkey plays a role. The problem for procrastinators is that the Instant Gratification Monkey becomes the sole, dominant driver of emotions and one’s ability to work, which is academically and work-ethic-wise clearly catastrophic. The Rational Decision Maker takes a backseat until the Panic Monster appears, the arch-nemesis of the Instant Gratification Monkey. Then, productivity skyrockets to compensate for a decent amount of wasted time. Then, this cycle continues. But, is this truly the most efficient way to spend time? Of course not. 

Procrastination poses a major threat for humans all across the world. When we should be completing one thing, our minds are utterly focused on something else, completely unrelated, which becomes increasingly detrimental with each dragging moment. Yet, in special cases, it seems like certain individuals entirely avoid the wrath of postponing action. In spite of that, Tim Urban declares that there is more than meets the eye. He agrees that although everyone may not be “a mess,” procrastination reveals itself in more ways than one. As members of the human race, who are constantly hurled at with new changes in society, we hold deadlines and cutoff points to high value. Yet, being dilatory doesn’t exclusively correlate with time limits. Playing the waiting game actually becomes more apparent when we aren’t confined to ephemeral restrictions. Tim Urban then serenely exhibits 4,680 unchecked boxes, and announces that these represent the total number of weeks in a 90-year lifetime. Next, Urban says, “That’s not that many boxes… So we need to all take a long, hard look at that calendar.” Urban then aptly adds, that whether it may be big or small or easy or difficult, there is something that we, as individuals, are procrastinating on. You see, if you are reading this, then you know that some of the 4,680 boxes are already filled in, a part of the past; some of those boxes have been spent procrastinating on something that you need to complete. Urban concludes his talk with a food for thought, and creates an ambiance that corresponds with doing one thing: simply starting. Whatever it is, whatever it may come to be, starting is where it all begins. In the words of Tim Urban, “It’s a job that should start today.” “Well, maybe not today, but sometime soon.” The moral of the story is, that however difficult it may seem in the moment, words like “another day,” “next week,” “tomorrow,” “someday,” “in the future,” and “later” will never be interchangeable with “now.” This is authentically represented by the one-and-only Tim Urban with his creative combinations of common language.  

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