Too many of us see procrastination as a moral failing or that we are horrible, lazy, indolent creatures with no discipline. The truth is, we will procrastinate. Especially if the task at-hand is emotionally overwhelming.
If I have so many steps to do in-order to fulfil that gargantuan task in my head, then of course it’s easier to reach for my phone and scroll on the ‘gram. Path of least resistance, right?
And some of us are likelier to procrastinate more than others. For instance, people with ADHD-type brains (or what you’ll know in NEP as ‘fast-paced brains’), because the brain’s sense of urgency doesn’t kick in enough yet unless the deadline is a heartbeat away. So, again, we procrastinate on autopilot.
The thing is, if I scroll too long on the ‘gram, time collapses into its own black hole. Sometimes, I feel worse because of the content that I get exposed to. And at other times, it’s because I’ve wasted too much time. Pop both factors together, and it’s a Molotov cocktail for haemorrhaging my time and energy. Not good.
But because I know that human nature is one that procrastinates, I started asking myself, What if I let the procrastination time GROW me?
And today, I teach people how to procrastinate better, wiser, and happier.
Go beyond autopilot
First, ask yourself, what are your autopilot procrastinating tendencies?
Most of us will pick up our favourite appendage – our phones. We’ll doom-scroll, shop, post stories, randomly click, whatever.
But here’s the deal. I still do those; I do enjoy them. But I do those within controlled time pockets so I get that devilishly pleasurable sense of gratification.
Then ask yourself, what are the contained time boundaries within which you’ll do those.
It could be in the five minutes you have between things. When you set alarms. When you’re in a short ten-minute cab-ride.
It’s like sugar. A little in my milk tea elevates the taste. But put in five tablespoons and I’m chewing sugar granules whilst on the rocket to diabetes mellitus.
Next, we’ll set up three lists.
The first list is Joy. What brings you joy or pleasure, or what makes your heart sing. It doesn’t need to always be grabbing that slice of chocolate cake or flying abroad. Also look for the simple things, like hugging your dog.
Second, is Order. What in your life could be more orderly? Does your house look neat, but the cupboards like a tornado has just torn through them? Or, what does your digital real estate – your computer folders, your archives on Google Drive or iCloud, your phone’s photo albums – look like. Otherwise, is there anything in your life that needs more cleanliness. Start small.
Third, we have Mastery. These are the things you’d love to start, or continue. They give you a sense of accomplishment. From a skill to a talent, from the things you might do someday to something you can already do. For me, it’s opening Duolingo on my iPhone to learn French instead of random scrolling.
Keep this list as visible as possible. Maybe even as your phone’s home screen so you always see it and have zero excuses not to do them.
That dopamine flooding into the spaces between your brain cells is what gives us that ‘ooh this feels sooo darned good’ feeling, that will make you want to do it over and over again.
So, establish a rewards list that you can consult, so you’ll keep procrastinating better.
Here’s to growing from your procrastination! Because the time will pass anyway.
If you’d like to know more about working with your natural pace instead of against it why not check out “The Neuroscience of Getting More Done”.