Being Aware of Your own Procrastination
I procrastinate a lot. It usually goes like this: I wake up in the morning with this idea fixed in my mind that today I am going to be super productive and get a lot of important stuff done. I will skip breakfast (I like to fast in the morning to burn through some excessive bodyfat), inject a well-brewed Aeropress coffee into my system and kick off my work – in THEORY.
In reality, instead of being proactive and start working on my project, I will my autopilot program take over for me. I turn my attention to the PC and start answering emails, check out other blogs, drift away in Youtube videos, check the weather, see how Roger Federer played and on and on and on – the list can get pretty long. I will do anything which feels pleasant and will prevent me start working on the MOST IMPORTANT stuff for the day. Eventually however, a feeling of guilt kicks in as I realise that I still haven’t started working and I finally manage to get going. But till then I may have wasted up to one hour of valuable productivity time in the morning. In hindsight, I sometimes hate myself for this kind of lazy procrastinating ass.
Gaining Momentum by Just Starting
Of course, not every day runs according to this poorly written script described above. There will be days, especially when deadlines are closing in on me, where I skip the procrastinating chunk and get right down to work. At the end of the day, it’s a most wonderful feeling knowing that today I won the fight against my own procrastination and was able to manage my time in a more meaningful and efficient way.
I have noticed one common experience when it comes to mastering my procrastination. Usually, when I am able to ignore all of the distractions surrounding me and remind myself why I need to be productive at this particular moment, I will most often make a plan of action and start implementing it right away. Without exception, once I delve into the work and experience the ecstasy of a working flow, I go crazy productive. It feels like I have just gained enough momentum to keep the ball rolling down the hill.
Trying to understand how I overcame my procrastination always fascinates me because: „Just a few moments ago I felt like turning on the PC and doing mindless unproductive shit on the internet.“ But surprisingly once I surmount the temptation of procrastination and expose myself to my work, my mind seems to click into productivity mode instantly and suddenly I am more than happy to remain productive (and feel good about myself later).
Screw Lunch Time – Take Short Breaks
This is just one tactic that helps me to eliminate the procrastinating part in me. Another tool that I often employ is taking short breaks (5-10 min) after working for a time block of no more than 40 min. There is neuroscientific research suggesting that working in chunks of 30-40 min interspersed with short, refreshing breaks (e.g. stretching, breathing, exercising, meditating) of roughly 5 min allows a person to learn more effectively and stay more productive. Many people do exactly the opposite by engaging their mind constantly for 3-4 hours, taking an hour break, and then returning for another 3-4 hours of low productivity time in the afternoon. My experience is that the risk for procrastination during these hour-long blocks of work seems pretty damn high for me personally. If I fall into the trap of following this never-ending time schedule, I tend to burn myself out quite fast doing this regimen for a few weeks straight. Therefore, take short but meaningful breaks while trying to minimise technology distractions.
Timing Your Procrastination
However, procrastination per se is not evil. Quite the contrary, procrastination can be a very helpful biohacking tool as well. Everybody knows that you can’t stay productive and mentally sharp for an entire day, week or month working like a humanoid machine without wishing for some form of procratinating activity. Procrastination definitely has its place as it allows your mind/body to switch off from the all productivity. The human mind likes to wander around and just engage in random shit. In my opinion, not doing or thinking anything for some periods is a very important aspect of „Off-Time“ which is often neglected. I mean, how productive are you when you are sleeping?
Nevertheless, actively procrastinating needs to occur at the right times. Procrastinating at the end of the day after finishing your work and being proud of it, who cares – go ahead and procrastinate: watch those stupid cat videos on YouTube for hours if it makes you happy. Or watch your favourite series on TV if you feel like you need your daily dose. Whatever!! Each one of us is an expert at finding procrastinating activities.
My point is, everybody needs a healthy balance between productive times and procrastinating times. As you long as your day isn’t dominated by one or the other, things are fine (I guess).
Learning from the Expert: Scott H Young
I have just shared my experience of being aware of my own procrastination and my strategies of overcoming it. For the past three years, I have been following fellow blogger, Scott H Young, and been able to learn a lot from him. Just to give you an idea of this guy’s wit – most recently it took him less than ONE YEAR to successfully complete all the courses covered in the equivalent 4-year MIT BSc of „Computer Science“ by applying his innovative learning techniques and time management strategies.
Anybody got some smart tactics in their arsenal to kill procrastination?
Please, share them in the comments.