5 Mindhacks for Overcoming Procrastination: Part 2

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In this post, we talked about procrastination, and how it prevents us working towards our goals, dreams and ambitions. Instead of creating a 'how to' containing practical tips and suggestions, we're looking at the core beliefs and resistance that feed procrastination. It's not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add your own below.

Nobody is coming to save you

Nathaniel Branden is an American psychotherapist who has published a lot of work around self-esteem.The story goes that Branden, talking to a group of students, said "No one is coming to save you."One of them piped up, "You came!", to which he replied "Yes, and I came to tell you no one is coming."The one person that will stay constant throughout our lives is us. We are the only people we can rely on, and the sooner we can take responsibility for ourselves, the more we can be ourselves.When we procrastinate, it might be because the task at hand is too difficult or uncomfortable, so we repeatedly push it back down our priorities list. Secretly, we're hoping that someone will come and save us: that we won't have to pitch to that client because they'll happen to see our work elsewhere and call us before we call them. We hope that we won't have to work out how we're going to make that payment later this month, because we can ask the bank to extend our overdraft. We hope that we won't have to have a conversation about that thing that our friend/partner/colleague does because maybe they'll just stop doing it.That 'someone' is not coming, because that someone is you. Some things feel difficult, they leave us feeling awkward and stuck, but we're the only people that can do anything about it.

The 80-20 principle

Inner perfectionists can be hard to bargain with, and the first section might be a bit touchy-feely for them. The parts of us that have taken on the perfectionist role tend to have an argument for everything. No matter how hard we try to reason with them, they have some sort of theory regarding why we are wrong and they are right. So let's meet them at their level, and introduce some logic.The 80-20 rule is based on the principle that 80% of our outcomes are based on 20% of our inputs. This rule applies to business, productivity, diets, and our happiness levels, when 20% of the activities we do account for 80% of our happiness and outputs.That means that the other 80% of our inputs is spent on the last 20% of our outcomes, which doesn't really make much sense. But the inner perfectionist will still say you need to do it.So when you're starting a project and the perfectionist parts keep saying "You're not doing this right", "You should be focusing more on that", "what on earth are people going to think of your work if it doesn't contain this detail?", take a step back and think: is this part of the 80%, or is it something that goes into the final 20%? Am I going to be spending a proportionate amount of time and energy to get this part of the project done? Or is this going to involve a lot of time and energy for a relatively small pay-off?If we're unable to differentiate between what belongs to the 80% and what belongs to the 20%, we can start to feel overwhelmed, and that's when the procrastination sets in.Using the 80-20 principle, we can be forgiving of ourselves and recognise that even if that final unfinished 20% is bugging us, it wouldn't be economical to put 80% of our time and energy into completing it. If the inner perfectionist still isn't happy with that, we can remind them that it gives us more time to move onto bigger and better things, rather than spend disproportionate amounts of time on details.

Differentiate between "want to" and "ought to"

These two verbs are very different, yet they get very confused in our minds. Over the years, we hear a lot of messages from family, friends, teachers, colleagues, the media, society and so on. We're saturated with ideas about what is right and wrong, the 'proper' thing to do, and what is expected of us. Whether we're aware of it or not, we take on these lessons and expectations, and we develop a picture of what our lives 'ought to' be like.And then procrastination strikes.We think: "But I don't understand... I really want to do this!"But sometimes, we've spent so much time thinking that we should be doing something, that we mistake that for wanting to do it. Separating out the 'ought to's from the 'want to's is easier said than done, but doing the work and undertaking this exploration can help us lead happier, freer (even procrastination-free) lives.Have you had any insights into your procrastination? Share them below or drop me a line. 

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