Just Off Center


I’ll start tomorrow

Filed under: Thinkums — Tags: , , , , — maarburg @ 02:42

I often make jokes about how I should start a Procrastinators Club, maybe tomorrow. Procrastination is often one of those simple things that stands between where we are, and where we want to be. Perspective, being one part of overcoming a stuck behavior pattern, is often the best place to start.

The words we use, in thought and speech, are considerably more important than we tend to realize. Our choice of words, not only explains our perspective on things, is often shapes that perspective as well. If you’ve had problems with motivation and/or procrastination, take a moment to examine the words you use to define the problem.
Do you use use phrases like “have to” and “should” ? Most of us do. Let’s take a look at these common phrases and I’ll tie the perspective the provide/create and how it interacts with procrastination.
“Have to” is such a commonly used phrase that we might miss how dangerous it can be. You don’t have to do anything. When we say that, we are somehow taking the task and removing our acceptance of it. It ends up feeling like it’s forced on us from someone else, someone that has power over us. That power, that choice, to do something is yours, and has always been so. There are consequences for not doing things, yet the choice is yours. You don’t have to go to the gym. You either want to, or you don’t.  Strip that phrase out of your speech patterns, and replace it with ‘want to’ and ‘choose to’ or if you’re adventurous, ‘looking forward to’. On to “should”…  Says who? Who exactly are you letting choose your values, and direction in life? Who is telling you what you should do? Silly me, I thought you were in control of your life. Interesting.

I find my procrastination takes hold when the task is too large for me to see all the parts. In fact, there are a ton of things that I’ve put off doing, simply because I couldn’t see past the next big decision.  One of the most important lessons I took from David Allens’ book Getting Things Done, is that the first step, is actually asking what is the next possible action. What is the next thing you can do? Slice down big projects or problems into smaller easier to manage pieces.

Right behind changing your focus from the monstrous, to the minute, is redefining what you think success means. The higher the expectation, the more pressure you are putting on yourself. This often leads to “have to” and “should” sneaking into your language. You may or may not be familiar with the Pareto Principle, named as such, but you’ve surely heard of the 80/20 rule. I spin on this principle is that the closer you get to 100%, or perfection, the more time/effort/resources are needed to gain every percentage point.  It is considerably easier to move from a 59% perfect project to a 60% perfect project than it is to get from 95% to 96%.  Step back and look at what is really necessary for the project to be a success. Reassess how vital this project is, and to whom. Seek the perfection in the smaller slices of the project, and you will often see a better overall project.

Life – by it’s very nature seems to indicate that we will end up doing things that we would rather not. Bouncing back up to “have to” vs “choose to”, remember that you have the choice. If you’re going to do this thing that you’d rather not, you might as well try to make the best of it. Have fun with it. Name your files after characters from a movie, anthropomorphize the project or parts of it. Whatever you can do to smile while you’re working.

Sorry.. my rambling didn’t produce a nice little mnemonic for remembering the steps. I could go back and change them, but I’m not.

Maarburg- meatspace N 21 18.759 W 158 1.072 Elevation 35m

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