End of Procrastination
The creative process takes time, so when you set a project aside for a few days or weeks, your mind can wander. That extra time spent mental wandering gives you the ability to came up with more creative, “divergent” ideas that enhance your project.
Productive procrastination was a hugely liberating concept for me to learn, especially while struggling to write this book. Before I learned about productive procrastination, I beat myself up constantly because I kept feeling burnt out, I had writer’s block, and I thought it meant I was a bad writer, lazy, or incapable. In truth, a creative process of this magnitude just took time.
My mind needed breaks and time to wander. It took me seven months longer than I thought it would to finish and the book is 100 time better for it. If you’re not getting the results that you want, give the project some time, go focus your energy somewhere else, and then come back later with fresh eyes.
So, if you are working on a creative project, and you don’t have a fixed deadline, it’s not procrastination if you let your work sit for a few weeks so you can let you mind wander. It’s the creative process. Those fresh new ideas you have as you procrastinate productively will make your work even smarter.
Destructive procrastination is an entirely different animal. It’s when we avoid the work we need to get done and know there will be negative consequences. This habit really comes back to bite you in the end.
Every one of us has a pile of stuff we can’t seem to get to: updating photo albums, analyzing a spreadsheet, finishing a proposal, or plowing through a to-do list that would grow your business. It’s anything that we find ourselves deliberately avoiding that really needs to get done.
Procrastination is not a from of laziness at all. It’s a coping mechanism for stress.
A common mistake we all make is thinking that people make a deliberate choice to procrastinate. In fact, most people who struggle with procrastination tell researchers that they feel like they have no control over it. And they are right, because they don’t understand the real reason why we procrastinate.
We procrastinate because we feel stressed out. Here’s the catch… you aren’t stressed about the work. You are stressed about the bigger stuff: money, relationship problem, or life in general. When you blow off work or studying for 15 minutes of online shopping or watching the highlights of last night’s game, you are taking a mini stress-break from the bigger stress you feel overall.
It’s like emotional eating for the mind. When you avoid something that feels hard, you get a sense of relief. Plus, when you do something you enjoy, like surfing Facebook or laughing at viral videos, you a get a short-term boost of dopamine. The more often that you procrastinate, the more likely you’ll repeat the behavior. Here’s the problem: while you get a small boost of relief when you watch cat videos, over time the work that you are avoiding builds and that creates more stress in your life.
The first thing research tells us: you need to forgive yourself for procrastinating.
Stop the cycle by forgiving yourself. Scott, you’ve got to take five seconds, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 forgive yourself for upsetting people, falling behind, and not working to your full potential. If you can recognize that your stress about finances are driving the procrastination at the lab, now you’ve got a chance to assert yourself and take control. You want to take control so you can achieve your goals. And that person you hope to become can help you right now.
What would the Future You Do?
“Present self” versus our “Future self”. Our “future self” is the person that we want to become. Interestingly, research proves that when you can picture the “Future you,” it give you the objective to push yourself in the present moment. In experiments when researchers show people their own pictures digitally aged, they’re more likely to save for retirement. I guess that’s an explanation for why vision boards work. They help you envision the Future you and that is a great coping mechanism for the stress you experience today as the Present You. So, Scott, create a vision board or a mental image of what your life looks like when all this grad school stress is behind you and you are Professor Scott. The moment you feel yourself procrastinating, just ask yourself.
· If procrastinating is a habit, you have to replace the bad behavior pattern (avoidance) with a new positive one (getting started).
· The moment you feel yourself hesitate, doing easier tasks, or avoiding hard work, use the Rule, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 push yourself to start the important thing you need to do.
· Getting started takes us back to our engineer at CISCO and the concept of a “locus of control.” Procrastination makes you feel like you have no control over yourself. When you assert yourself and just get started, you are taking control of the moment and your life.
How you can most effectively use the 5SecondRule to beat procrastination: use it to make yourself start. Start small. Attack what you are avoiding for just 15 minutes at a time. Then, take a break and watch a few cat videos. And for crying out loud, give yourself a break for blowing things off until now. You’re only human.
All of this stuff is common sense. You eat the elephant (in the room) one bite at a time. What we are learning over and over and over in this book is that unless you beat the feelings that trigger your bad habits, and you push yourself to just get started, you’ll never change.
You’ll either find a way or you’ll find an excuse.
Taken from The 5SsecondRule
Writing by Arshad. A