Procrastination or “Can’t We Talk About This Later?”

I procrastinate.

What I procrastinate doing though doesn’t always stay the same. However, the most frustrating procrastinations in my life has been about being consistent in working  towards  my artistic goals.  (ie getting out there and getting er done) .  A friend of mine has a saying that goes like this…Frustration is not understanding.  OK, this makes sense to me, and I am extremely frustrated with myself for the procrastination cycle I have put myself through over the years.  So today I felt inspired to explore this lack of understanding.

Steven Kotler, a writer for Psychology Today published on September 01, 2009, an article titled “Escape Artists” that explored the issue of procrastination.

Psychologists define procrastination as a gap between intention and action. Chronic procrastinators feel bad about their decisions to delay—which helps distinguish procrastination from laziness. Laziness involves a lack of desire; with procrastination, the desire to start that project is there, but it consistently loses out to our appetite for delay. And this is no ordinary delay. Procrastination is considered a needless, often irrational delay of some important task in favor of a less important, but seemingly more rewarding, task. And that accompanying negative feeling—the gnawing guilt, the building anxiety—is one way we know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do.

My house is clean, my garden is harvested, my dogs got a bath, I started this blog, I have spent hours researching new employment, I take care of the livestock (chickens and goats) and I surf the web for inspiration et cetera.  I am not a lazy person. Far from it I work all the time.  But…

“It is always about choice,” observes Canadian psychologist Timothy Pychyl. And that makes procrastination quintessentially an existential problem. “We’re given a certain amount of time and we have to use it,” he says.

“It’s the acts of omission that lead to our biggest regrets in life. Where do we choose to invest ourselves?” Procrastination, he contends, bumps right up against our commitment “to whom it is we are trying to be in life.”

“Whom are you trying to be in this life?”  Hmmmmm mulling this over.

For nearly 40 years, psychologists have tried to identify the core foible. Some think perfectionism is the problem; others find anxiety at its heart.  And there are those who see it as a self-handicapping predicament resulting from a fear of failure.

University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel has defined  four interlinked variables that correlate to procrastination…these are:

A person’s expectancy for succeeding at a given task, the value of the task, a person’s need for immediate gratification-their sensitivity to its delay and impulsiveness.

Expectancy of success is essentially a measure of confidence. The more confident you are, the less likely you are to put off a task.

Look at What You’ve Already Achieved

And write those achievements down.

Think About Your Strengths

Think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. From these, think about the opportunities and threats you face.

Think About What’s Important to You, and Where you Want to Go

Set some achievable goals

Start Managing Your Mind

Learn to recognize and defeat the negative self-talk which can destroy your confidence.

Ten Affirmations for Attracting Confident Self Mirrors.
1. I attract people that support and inspire me on my journey.
2.   My life is full of healthy interactions.
3.   I have an abundant social network full of like minded friends and acquaintances.
4.   I am enriched by the people I meet everyday.
5.   I am loved by my family.
6.   I let go of unhealthy attachments to people and situations.
7.   I am not perfect, but I am perfectly me.
8.   I accept myself for who I am.
9.   I am likable, lovable, and wonderful to be around when I am genuinely me.
10. I love myself

And Then Commit Yourself to Success!

Value

Task value is a combination of two factors: how much fun this particular job is and what it means to you and your life. The more fun, the more meaning, the less procrastination.

MAKE

IT

FUN!!!

Gratification

Value of the now..over the later

The need for instant gratification looks at both how much time will pass before you are rewarded for doing the job and how badly you need a reward for its completion.

Procrastination reflects the difficulty of coping with some aspects of modern society with hunter-gatherer brains because our forebears lived in a world without delay.

  • Practicing meditation to achieve a clearer picture of your own mental habits and impulses can help increase gratification. Mindfulness meditation is particularly good for this, as the individual learns that they do not have to obey those thoughts that push for instant gratification.
  • Having clear goals that you really desire, will make it easier to delay gratification. It will mean that you have a good reason for making sacrifices now.
  • Mental visualizations of how good it will be to achieve a goal will encourage making the necessary sacrifices now.
  • Be wary of any claims of instant results. Most things that are worthwhile in life involve at least some initial sacrifice.
  • It is important to learn how to appreciate the process of achieving things rather than just wanting to get to the goal as fast as possible. There can actually be a great deal of pleasure to be found in the process of making dreams a reality.
  • It is a good idea to keep a journal. (Or a blog?) This will allow you to track your progress in the journey.
  • Once you begin to experience the benefits of deferring gratification it becomes easier to do – it eventually becomes a habit.
  • Delaying gratification does not mean that you need to postpone your enjoyment of life. The ideal situation is to live in the moment but plant positive seeds for the future.

Distraction

Finally, impulsiveness measures how easily distracted you are. The more readily you succumb to distraction, the greater the chance you’ll procrastinate.

Procrastination

E-mail, voice mail, video-on-demand, Web surfing, and the like—”you couldn’t design a worse working environment if you tried,” insists Steel.

Steel would have us help ourselves by reconfiguring our immediate world to fit our brains, at least when we need to work. It’s not just a matter of shutting off your e-mail. Go that extra step and remove the icon entirely from your desktop. And while you’re at it, turn off the ringer on the phone.

So, there is a bit to chew on.  Now I think I had better start on a list or two…after I get some studio time in that is!

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