You might know this feeling: You wake in the morning, do your errands, and as you have already read from many productivity articles, you might even write your ToDo list for the day, thinking that today will be super productive.
But as the day progresses, it’s already afternoon and you still yet to get into your tasks, which you just keep putting off, finding yourself randomly browsing the internet, Facebook, refreshing gmail, or randomly chatting up people on Skype.
And you feel even more stressed and guilty that you wasted so many precious hours without doing useful things…
How could we become more efficient at doing the things?
This could be a long article, but I just want to dive into one or two aspects which I find helpful for my clients in becoming more productive.
I hear a lot from people that they want to stop procrastinating that much. They beat themselves up about it, might even read many articles on how to be more productive, and implement couple techniques but still find themselves randomly putting things off.
Why do we procrastinate?
Many times it is regarded as the bad guy holding someone back from really being successful.
However procrastination is just a symptom.
Let’s say the example of a poker player setting the goal of playing 3 x 2 hr sessions that day. When he finds himself not playing as much as he set out to play, and puts the sessions off, there is usually some resistance behind that.
Procrastination is a way to cope with the uncomfortable resistance and frustration within.
Procrastination is not so much different than any other way people (mostly) unconsciously escape their uncomfortable feeling states into different non-supporting activities like alcohol, smoking, drugs, overeating, endless series/movie watching, porn…
So rather than dealing with the symptom (procrastination), let’s understand better how that resistance arises.
It might look like our resistance is coming from the given task (for example playing a poker session, or sitting down to study the game). However if really that was the source of our resistance that would mean we would always have to feel this way, and every person as well.
But that’s not the case. Sometimes you might find yourself in confident, enthusiastic, stressed, frustrated, anxious, or any other feeling state regarding a task.
Because our feelings are just showing what kind of thinking we have in the moment. 100% of our feeling is coming from thought in the moment, not from outside things.
And when you realize that what you are up to is just some resisting or stressful thoughts, and not an inherently scary task, that can ease your inner experience and resistance.
The task at hand is actually neutral, it has no meaning. It’s not good, bad, stressful, or whatever. It has no meaning, except the meaning you give it through your thoughts.
Your resistance might come from thoughts like “I don’t want to play now, but I should.” or some other thoughts about fearing to lose, or not feeling in the “right state”. That’s the source of your resistance.
Just do the thing
If you have been around personal development you probably heard about Tony Robbins. Amazing guy. He really has impacted my life, been to several of his programs, even got one of my coach certifications through his coaching school, and worked with people through his model in the past.
However a thing that caused me frustration so many times is the advice of “change your state.” Because many times I got overanxious about not being in the right state for doing things, whether it was doing a task, standing up for speaking in public, or approaching a cute woman.
The only time when our feeling state is holding us back from performing a task, is when we think we need to be in a certain state to do perform the task.
Our feelings change with our thinking. When our attention is not on resisting the thing, or trying to manage/control our feelings and thinking, but rather we put our attention on the task, and just show up, and start doing the thing, we find that it is surprisingly easy sometimes to just get into the flow after 5-20 mins.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Do the thing, and you will get the energy to do the thing.
We can make our breakfast feeling confident, and we can make it feeling stressed or fearful. We can take a shower feeling enthusiastic, and we can take it feeling anxious.
It doesn’t matter if we just do the thing.
Same with poker session or other tasks. When we just show up, and not resist, we are naturally getting back to our more default “flow” state, and can perform the task.
So whenever you feel resistance about doing your task, just ask the question: “Where do I think my feeling comes from?” Is it from the task or my thinking?
You don’t have to do anything about your thinking, definitely not changing or controlling it. It’s enough to just notice. And instead start doing the thing however you feel.
Take this as a little exercise for you for the next couple days and see how your outlook might change on topics like productivity or procrastination.
Here is the mantra:
Show up and see what happens!
It means show up to your task, start doing it, without expectations, and just see what happens.
Consider play with this the next couple days.
Let me know what are your insights from this article in the comments, what has or hasn’t worked for you regarding productivity!