Friday, March 25, 2011

The Procrastination Equation - Piers Steel

I’ve never really considered myself to be a procrastinator.  Often, when I decide to do something I do it.  I rock at my nagging tasks list.  I cross those tasks off like nobody’s business.  I don’t like a lot of stuff hanging over my head.  I do my dishes that night after supper, I clean the apartment once a week, I steam clean the carpets every 6 months, I do my taxes right away, I pay my bills on time, all things considered I’m on top of most things.
In doing the happiness project I have noticed that I tend to procrastinate a lot when it comes to certain things: My Tutorials, My Fitness and My Friends also known as Pursue Your Passion, Boost Energy and Friends and Family.  These are huge contributors to my happiness, yet I’m always putting them on the back burner.  So I decided to figure out the issue and bought a book on procrastination.  I’m sure I’ll get around to reading it one of these days… just kidding!
He breaks procrastination down into 3 main categories:
Expectancy: When what we expect to happen doesn’t, we lose confidence.
Once you start believing your goals aren’t achievable, you stop effectively pursuing them.

Value: We tend to put off whatever we dislike.  Pretty straightforward.

Time: Time is smaller more immediate pleasures chosen over those that are larger but more delayed.  Television is given as a big example of a short term pleasure that takes away from long term goals, so is Facebook.  I would say time is probably my biggest challenge.
While reading, I made a list of points I felt to be valid:
- keep energy up (it’s easy to put off tasks when you feel too exhausted to do them)
- reward progress
- learn to love your work (re-frame your negative views)
- visualize your passion career (and contrast it to where you are now)
- acknowledge that you procrastinate and how (and why, expectancy, value, time)
- precommittment (be specific about when you will do something, ex: immediately after breakfast)
- create challenging goals, they are more inspirational than attainable ones
- make 10 minutes goals, focus on small steps
So the first step is to acknowledge that I am a procrastinator.  I procrastinate.  Next, I have to figure out the ways in which I procrastinate which I have decided to be watching TV and daydreaming.  I would put internet third but I rarely use the internet at home so it’s rare.  I also do what is known as productive procrastination where I will clean and organize instead of doing another task and I tell myself that’s okay because I am getting things done, just not the right things.  TV is my number one.  The irony in that is that I don’t even like half the TV I watch.  I am now going to severely cut back on how much TV I watch.  I’m going to PVR the couple shows I do like and make a commitment to plan my TV time.
I also thought the 10 minutes goals were good.  I’ve always rebelled against the baby steps idea, but I think it’s time to embrace it.  Instead of focusing on working out, make your goal to get your gym clothes on and then see how you feel, if you feel good take your next step.  A big part of it is making clear and specific steps.  Instead of get my finances in order, your goal is to gather all your receipts, sort them into categories and input your totals into your budget.
My next goal is to really brainstorm how to apply this to my procrastination.  My favorite part of the book was when he said that all of this means nothing if you don’t follow through on it.  Um, hello, isn’t that what procrastination is?

1 comment:

  1. Try this as well. Unplug you TV after using it or disconnect the cable, whatever is harder to put back in (or both). Adds a little delay to getting the TV back on.

    Also, get some sort of cabinet for the TV (harder with the sizes of TV in this decade). Out of sight, out of mind.