Unfinished Book on Procrastination: Chapter 5 – I have to do the task

Chapter 5 – “I have to do the task”

Procrastination always takes the form of “I have to do the task.” This is an intrusive thought that cannot just be sat with. You must attack it, such that it yields more interesting thoughts. Take it apart like I have below…

  1. I
  2. Have to
  3. Do
  4. The task

1.“I”

Who are you – in the world? Who are you – with respect to this task/function? Why do YOU have to do it? Is there a way to get out of it? Could anyone else in this apartment do the friggin dishes?! Did you commit to it? Or just assume you have to do it? Isn’t it really more true that… a problem was posed to me, but who said anything about doing it? You saying you HAVE to do it is a decision on your part. People want other people to do things all the time. A task is like a contract. You have to accept it/sign the contract.

In the larger sense – you have no idea who you are. People change drastically from year to year. You are an evolving being. You will evolve throughout the process of procrastination, and evolve during the process of doing the task. You are in a state of partial chaos. You are not an isolated being who has complete information about the world. It’s strange to keep saying to yourself “I have to do the task”, instead of working through all the questions that arise from declaring this “I.”

2. Have to..

Why “have to”? Or else what? Why do you have to? Who is giving the order – you? What are your credentials? What’s the source of your authority? What did you have in mind when you gave yourself this task? Do just think you have to? Have to, in accordance with what ethical or legal system? Do you have complete information about this system whose rules you agree to follow? Is this task even in your domain of responsibility? Do you even know your domain of responsibility? Can you do something else instead? Or does doing the task have some unseen benefit to another area of your life that you didn’t realize? It’s strange to keep saying to yourself “I have to do the task”, instead of working through all the questions that arise from declaring this “have to”.

3. Do..

What do you mean, “do”? Does the issuer of the task (you) have the means of achieving an outcome in mind? Is there more than one way to do it? Who says there’s only one way? Would you even know if there WAS an easier way to do it? Shouldn’t you really go look that up now? Would you appreciate it if you found a better way, or a more interesting way? Could you apply your new, creative way of doing the task in a way that will transform mankind forever? Have much do you care about this task? Do you just want to impress someone else? What’s your larger goal in mind? What’s your best case scenario? What’s easiest for you? What if you just said “No”? Then what would the world’s response be? What disaster would unfold if you washed the dishes tomorrow instead? It’s strange to keep saying to yourself “I have to do the task”, instead of working through all the questions that arise from declaring this “do.”

4. The task..

Do you just have an outcome you need to achieve? Or is it an action you need to take? What is the absolute easiest way to do what you need to do? What is the way it’s usually done? What is the weirdest way it could be done? What is the slowest way in which it could be done? What is a way in which it could be done that would yield you the most information about something else that you actually do want to know? Or.. What is a way in which it could be done that would allow you to do something else that you want to do? Does this task conflict with your priorities? Do you know how your world works? Does you know how THE WORLD IN GENERAL works? It’s strange to keep saying to yourself “I have to do the task”, instead of working through all the questions that arise from declaring this “the task.”

Additional thought experiments:

What if you just sat here until a way through this mess came to you? What if you didn’t just jump at the first impulse and demand on you, instead completely thinking through the problem before you? What if you poured a hilarious amount of energy into this problem, as a goof? What if you treated this minor problem as a massive military campaign, to be treated with the utmost seriousness, the greatest thought to precision? Could you get other people involved? Could you shoehorn the skills you have already into this task?

Now, thinking through the above might not change anything. But my guess is that there’s some pain point around the task that will become exposed through this kind of questioning. Honestly, sometimes thinking about it and OVER thinking about it in this way could eventually just bore you and tire you out, and once you finally feel your grievances about his task/the world have been heard and acknowledged by someone (you), who knows what you’ll do now?

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