(UR) Back in February, blogger Tim Urban — of the existential and wildly popular Wait But Why — gave a TED talk on procrastination. In it, he cracks wise about his own difficulties with the subject, while suggesting that everyone should take a hard look at the things they’ve been putting off in their lives.
“My behavior’s always perplexed the non-procrastinators around me, and I wanted to explain to the non-procrastinators of the world what goes on in the heads of procrastinators and why we are the way we are,” explained Urban with regard to the 2013 Wait But Why blog post his TED talk is based on.
Through humor, slides, and hand drawn stick figures, Urban’s discussion takes us through the process of how the writer visualizes the procrastinator’s brain to function. Central — and perhaps detrimental — to these minds is what Urban dubs the “Dark Playground.”
“It’s where leisure activities happen at times when leisure activities are not supposed to be happening,” says Urban. “The fun you have in the Dark Playground isn’t actually fun because it’s completely unearned and the air is filled with guilt, dread, anxiety, self-hatred — all those good procrastinator feelings.”
And it was precisely these types of negative feelings that laced thousands of responses to Urban’s original blog post — something that caught the writer off-guard:
“What struck me was the contrast between the light tone of the post and the heaviness of these emails,” he says in his TED talk. “These people were writing with intense frustration about what procrastination had done to their lives.”
This gets at the real message of Urban’s talk — that we’re all procrastinators in one way or another. Even if we’re alright with deadlines and quarterly quotas, suggests Urban, how much further down the road are we pushing things like life goals and ambitions?
Because, according to Urban, life’s real frustrations have nothing to do with deadlines. “The frustration is not that they couldn’t achieve their dreams,” he says, “it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them.”
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