Lie 1: “It will take too long to do right now”

This is the first post addressing the three lies we believe that lead us into procrastination. See the introduction post here.

Original photo by William Warby

Original photo by William Warby

How many times have you thought, “I need to do _____” only to “realize” you don’t have enough time. Let’s be honest with ourselves: 9 times out of 10 that is not true in the least. When I first started attacking this idea that I didn’t have enough time, I started timing myself. I would stare at the pile of dishes and think, “I should do this but I’ll be late if I start now.” After I timed it, I realized it was a 3 minute job and I often had 5 to spare. This was such a freeing  realization because I sincerely believed both things: that I needed to do the job and that I didn’t have enough time. Soon I realized that this part of my brain was broken and I needed to acknowledge that the thought “it will take too long” should be treated as an unreliable calculation.

I’m not sure how this lie started worming its way into brains everywhere but it really needs to stop. If you think you don’t have time – try anyways and see how far you get. Half done dishes are better than never done. After you time yourself doing several activities that will “take too long” my guess is you’ll notice that they were a 10 minute job, not a 30 minute job your brain exploded the situation into. affirms this and explains:

Learning to better estimate time to task completion is a skill that needs to be developed by procrastinators who, for whatever reason, seem to fall short of its mastery.

There you have it. Next time you think, “I don’t have time to do that right now” call your own bluff and give it a try!


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  • Matthew

    My brain blows things up ALL the time. I used to especially bad with this, and needed a solid hour or two in order to think I could get any work done on essays for school.
    I’m making progress though–sometimes I sit down to write for as little as 15 minutes. Sometimes I get more done is less time than I would’ve if I had the whole day free.

    I’m excited for the rest of this series 🙂

    • Jess Versteeg

      It’s so true how short windows of time can be super productive. I sewed half a bib in the 5 minutes I was waiting for supper to finish cooking and I’m a beginner sewer!

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