Why I perform better when I’m up against the clock – time on my hands isn’t good for me

This is a classic example of a problem I have that I believe should be easy to resolve though the reality is quite different. It’s an issue which dates to my secondary school days (a period when I completed something like 6 or 7 English essays in the week before my GCSE deadline, rather than working on them at a more relaxed pace during the previous 12 months) and that problem persists today.

Basically, if I have a specific task to complete and a challenging amount of time, I knuckle down and get it done. If a task will take me 1 hour and I have 1 hour available, I’m straight onto it. Always. However, if I don’t have a challenging timescale for completion, I procrastinate. If I have, let’s say, 3-4 hours in which to complete a task which should take 1 hour, I almost always waste time. I let my mind wander. I’ll check my phone for alerts. I’ll update my podcast app and reorder the new episodes. I’ll grab a book from the shelf and aimlessly flick through it. I could quote dozens and dozens of other examples of things I’ll do rather than the task at hand.

I know I have the discipline to knuckle down when I need to, and there are days when the focus and desire to achieve burns in me and I complete much of what I want to, though I never seem to experience these days consistently. Some days I’m ‘on it’, others I’m not. There’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to it and that frustrates the hell out of me as I want to be ‘on it’ all the time.

All of which leads me to question if we can ever change habits like this? I dearly hope we can, and I believe we are able to, but it’s so bloody difficult. I need to conduct some further research on this soon though I’m keen to understand if anyone reading this has managed to do it – to stay focused and disciplined and to therefore get lots of stuff done on a frequent basis. Most people I speak to about this have similar experiences to me though there must be some success stories out there? I need to know as this is the most frequent source of frustration in my life – reaching the end of a day and not having achieved what I set out to do. It happens far too often and, in keeping with the core themes of this blog, it does affect my mental health (i.e. my mood and my state of mind).

As always, thanks for reading and take care.

Best wishes.



  1. Just stumbled across this blog whilst preparing for a pre interview , interview- if such a thing exists. Started to get imposter syndrome a little but now feeling motivated and ready!

    I’ll read a few more on my way in the morning.

    Thank you!

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