The Infinite Temptations for Procrastination

I fully realize that this isn’t a problem isolated to just freelance writers, but the lure of the “what else can I do?” becomes even stronger when you are working from home and for your own freelance business. This is a notion that I have approached many times before on this blog, and I’ll probably revisit it again, but it is a problem that must be seriously addressed by any work-at-home entrepreneur.

The problem is further exacerbated by the simple fact that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. What’s more, even if I do work, I may not necessarily get paid either. Let’s take this blog as a prime example.

Beyond the Rhetoric is far from being my primary source of income, but it is a source of income for me. When I sit down to write a blog post, tweak the layout or implement a new monetization strategy, that’s all work. If I were to perform the exact same tasks at a more conventional salary-paying job for my employer, I would get paid for that work. With Beyond the Rhetoric, I can put in countless hours and I may not reap much in terms of monetary rewards.

And I feel that really is at the root of procrastination and why we put things off.

Laziness Pays Off Today

When I update my website or work to expand my brand presence on the web, that work could pay off in the long run. I could attract more and better-paying projects. Even in the case of writing articles for existing clients, I may not receive full payment until some time in the future. I’m putting in the work now for some benefit that will come later.

By contrast, procrastination and laziness pay off immediately. They provide you with a simple sense of instant gratification, because you can distract yourself with an entertaining video on YouTube, a random casual game on Facebook, or some other meaningless drivel. This doesn’t offer much in terms of a long-term payoff, but it can put a smile on your face right now. And sacrificing the possibility of instant gratification is a tough thing to do.

I Can Do It Tomorrow

When you are your own boss, as would be the case with freelance writing, you are largely in charge of your own schedule. You may have some daily duties, but the world won’t come to an apocalyptic halt if what you were supposed to do today doesn’t get done until tomorrow. And that exit opportunity gives you an “out.” It gives you an excuse to procrastinate, but the sun will come up tomorrow and you can do it then. I was going to procrastinate today, but then I decided I’d just do it tomorrow.

However, you can see how this could lead to serious problems down the road. What if you fall into the same trap tomorrow? Then, the task that you were supposed to do today is being pushed to two days in the future, then three days, then a week. Before you know it, your to-do list has grown to monumental proportions and you find yourself struggling to keep up. Where did the time go?

The Bright Side?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I also fall victim to the temptation of procrastination more often than I’m willing to admit, but the work does get completed when it must. Truth be told, procrastination isn’t all bad. It could help to refresh those batteries and elevate your mood. In fact, some people say that what you’re doing when you procrastinate might be “the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

Speaking for myself, I tend to play video games or do something photography-related when I procrastinate. To some extent, I have parlayed some of this into being a part of my overall career. I review games and I take a lot of pictures for event coverage, product reviews, blog posts and the rest of it. And then I procrastinate by playing a non-work related game or editing photos that are only for a personal collection.

Go figure.