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Are You Hurting Your Career with Procrastination?

March 18, 2016

Are there certain things you know you should be doing to move your acting career forward–things you know you could do today–but you keep putting them off for one reason or another? Maybe you know you need to update your headshots, or sign up for a class, or get involved with local theater, or get to creating that webisode you’ve had in mind to expand your exposure. If this sounds like you, this entertaining video might be just what you need to motivate you.

Tim Urban is the author of the blog Wait But Why, and is described as one of the Internet’s most popular writers. His entries include a wide variety of topics such as artificial intelligence, odd friendships, why he’s always late, and what makes us who we are–and he always incorporates humorous stick-figure drawings for emphasis.

In this 14-minute Ted talk entitled Inside the mind of a master procrastinator, Urban comically yet insightfully brings to light the inner dialogue most of us experience–if not all–when procrastinating. After writing a blog on the topic of procrastination, Urban received many emails from people describing their heavy regrets and anxiety resulting from their personal struggles with procrastination. Expanding on this, he explains there are two different kinds of procrastination. One happens when we have a deadline, thus, “the effects of procrastination are contained to the short term;” this type is often acknowledged when we speak about procrastination. For example, an actor might put off learning his or her lines till the last minute before a performance, and end up pulling an all-nighter cramming the words in while in a state of anxiety. The other kind of  procrastination that Urban sheds light on is far more insidious though; it’s the type that occurs when there’s no deadline to spur us on. “So if you wanted a career where you’re a self-starter–something in the arts, something entrepreneurial–there’s no deadlines on those things at first because nothing’s happening, not until you’ve gone out and done the hard work to get momentum, get things going. There’s also all kinds of important things outside of your career that don’t involve any deadlines, like seeing your family or exercising and taking care of your health,” Urban points out. These non-deadline examples of goals aren’t contained; rather, their “deadlines” can just keep being extended indefinitely. “It’s this long-term kind of procrastination that’s much less visible and much less talked about than the funnier, short-term deadline-based kind. It’s usually suffered quietly and privately. And it can be the source of a huge amount of long-term unhappiness, and regrets,” he says.

Urban then offers a visual tool called a Life Calendar attempting to help us plainly see that our lives are indeed finite–thus, seeking to motivate each of us to move on our goals today.

What have you been putting off?