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If there’s something I’ve come to realise over the previous few days, it’s the concept of time denial. But what is the thing and why does it matter anyway? Let me first paint the background:

Time denial is not new to me. Neither would it be unique to me.

Often, during the lower points of my life, procrastination was a significant issue. Moreover, it had numerous ways of manifesting itself, including:

  • Getting carried away and not being able to let go of an activity
  • …thus resulting in a self-sustaining cycle of sleep deprivation.
  • Putting off important but difficult tasks.
  • Being effortlessly distracted by trivial matters.
  • Disheartening depression, gargantuan guilt, and restless regret.
  • Living in ignorance and sheer denial of the time.
Time denial causes laziness and procrastination like a child ignoring his parents.

The Symptoms of Time Denial

What I’ve come to realise is that the demons of our nature despise one thing: time.

When procrastinating, we love to ignore time. We love to pretend that our actions have no consequences. We love to take the easy path.

However, you ought to remove your rose-tinted glasses when I tell you that you’re living in denial of the truth; you pretend that time has no existence to make yourself feel better about your procrastination.

Let go and stick to schedule: How to Stop Getting Carried Away in a Task and Delay It

After having wasted so much time, recall a moment when a clock catches the glance of your eye. Did you feel a surge of guilt and regret climb throughout your body?

If so, you’re not alone.

When I procrastinated, I would consistently make laughable, subconscious efforts to ignore the time. For instance, I would deliberately keep my eyes from wondering over the clock late at night.

(The stronger side of me intends to enforce a consistently early bedtime.)

As a result, I would not feel as depressed when the reality was that I was destroying my productivity. Time denial — living under an artificial illusion (ignorance) of reality — is blissful, yet so terribly harmful.

Ignoring the Time Is the Cause of Procrastination

And, now, I hope you’re ready for the really, really ridiculous reality:

Time denial does not do a single thing in your favour!

By direct contrast, denying the passage of time is ironically the cause of your depression — not the treatment! So, do not think that ignoring the time will make you feel better!

Sure, you may be escaping some immediate heart-sinking regret, but a long-term backdrop of depression will always be lurking.

That’s the irrationality of procrastination in a nutshell.

Here is the process by which time denial hijacks your life:

You slip up, and, before you know it, half the day has gone by without a single productive thing completed. Consequently, your inner brain-demons kick-in in an elaborate act to protect you from feeling bad:

The clock is always ticking and ignoring the time does nothing to change that.
The clock never stops.

You continue to ignore the time, you continue to procrastinate, and you continue to make no progress.

Without a deep sense of urgency, you’ll never feel the finite nature of time; rather, time will seem abundant.

And what happens when time seems abundant? You use it liberally, of course, directing your attention towards things that do you no good.

Although — because time is still a thing — inescapable guilt relentlessly consumes you.

But what if you were to make the choice of accepting the time? Then, you could save days, nay, weeks.

We’ve all been there. You may not feel like getting back on the productivity wagon, but time denial is not the solution.

Time denial is the painkiller; acceptance is the cure.

Be rational: the initial discomfort of coming face-to-face with your slip-up it worth the countless hours saved by getting back on track as soon as you notice your mistake.

Getting back in the flow: How to Increase Your Work Efficiency Right Now: Set a Timer!

The Sunk Cost Fallacy Keeps You from Making Progress

So, why does it happen? It is due to what is known as the sunk cost fallacy, and it goes like this:

You have already made a commitment (procrastination), so there is no point turning back now — you might as well continue the streak of unproductivity.

This is fundamentally stupid.

Unfortunately, there is no effective way out of this negative spiral without giving yourself a cold, harsh awakening.

Next, we will discuss this “awakening”.

(If it fascinates you, you can learn about the sunk cost fallacy and other errors with Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.)

Acceptance: Be at One with the Time

It sounds silly to have to tell you to stop denying the time. Consciously, we know our actions have consequences — but humans are irrational!

The first step, undoubtedly, to overcoming denial of the time is to accept it. By accepting that, yes, it’s been five hours since you’ve done something productive, you will find peace.

After all, only your ego — your lazy self — is stopping you from taking a peek at the clock.

Contrary to your expectations, the ability to accept the time and overcome time denial will empower you: you will be fuelled with the energy needed to break away from a deluded life.

Moreover, when you can be at peace, you will be free, and that would be the best feeling you’ve felt for an extraordinarily long time. (That is, for however long your negative spiral of unproductivity lasted.)

Remember that, in reality, it makes no difference whether or not you look at the time. Therefore, realise that ignoring a time is a mental feel-good device as opposed to something that truly wants to help you.

Achieving oneness with the time is the way to overcome procrastination and be productive

Your mission in life is to transcend the obstacle that is your mind.

Above all, all that matters is how you act right now. What about those previous three hours of time wasting? They do not matter. Can’t change it; can’t control it.

But you know what you can control? The present: right now.

So, end the façade in order to become a true time management master.

Wear a watch — never lose track of the time again.

Applied time-acceptance: Should You Sleep or Study All Night? You’ll Hate the Truth

Conclusion: A Small Exercise for You

Today we have learned how denying and ignoring the time (time denial) fuels the dreaded cycle of procrastination.

Like procrastination, it is irrational. Equally, like procrastination, it can be defeated.

So, before you go, I would like you to put this exercise into practice for at least a week:

Throughout your day, continually make deliberate efforts to check the time. Look at your watch or stare down your wall clock.

Accept it. Be at one with it.

Also, notice times of resistance — at these times, it is especially important to force an awareness of time.

Now, the time no longer controls you, but you have control in face of the time! As a result of this exercise, your drive to procrastinate will fizzle away, and your courage to face reality will certainly give you a dopamine hit.

Finally, if you know anyone who is suffering from procrastination, be sure to point them this way!

My Book Recommendation of The Week

There are two books that come to mind when discussing this subject and following is one of them. While I personally found this book profound, I strongly encourage you to entertain an open mind to truly reap its benefits:

Letting Go by David R Hawkins

Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins

For answering this week’s question in the comments, reflect on how you behave when procrastinating:

Do you often try to ignore the ever-looming clock?

* * *

Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Please leave your ideas in the comments below!

Thank you for learning at Cryptic Butter!

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Time Denial: Conquer This Bad Habit and Reclaim Your Time
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Time Denial: Conquer This Bad Habit and Reclaim Your Time
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What is causing your procrastination? If you're like me, you might be suffering from "time denial" — a stealthy robber stealing your precious time. Be at peace with the time: then you will take back control of your life!
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Cryptic Butter
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Posted by Luis Thiam-Nye

If you want to learn how to use technology to increase your productivity, you should visit Cryptic Butter! I also have a GitHub project.

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