Do you have trouble with procrastination? Is â€œlaterâ€ always the perfect time to do something? Are you stressed, missing deadlines, and constantly playing catch-up? Wellâ€¦..hello! Itâ€™s so nice to meet a kindred spirit! Procrastination has always been one of my worst habits. But I recently finished an online course in â€œLearning How to Learnâ€ (www.coursera.org) that has taught me something new about procrastination.
Brain researchers have discovered that when we dread doing an activity, the thought registers in the same physical area of our brain where pain registers. So naturally, we do the same thing we do when confronted with pain â€“ we attempt to avoid it. However, the minute we refocus or re-frame our thinking by looking at the first step needed to successfully tackle a project â€” well, then the thought moves out of the area where pain registers and into an area I call the â€œgetting things doneâ€ area. More focus â€“ without the pain association! This has been such a tremendous help to me.
Now, instead of looking at years of files that need to be sorted and thinking, â€œIâ€™ll get to that first thing tomorrow,â€ I focus on what my beginning step should be to get the job started. In this case, my beginning step included:
â€¢ using a filing crate and creating categories for the files I want to keep
â€¢ purchasing a shredder
â€¢ making a commitment to go through at least 5 files a day.
This has really jump-started my file de-cluttering process. I usually end up purging and sorting more than 5 files, but if not, I still pat myself on the back for the progress I am making.
Another helpful tip is to use a timer. Our brains tend to function better if we alternate 20-25 minutes of focused activity with a 5 minute break. The key is set your timer for both the activity time and the break time, so your breaks donâ€™t end up getting you side tracked. (Can you tell I am speaking from experience?!) If possible, try to walk during some of your breaks, even if it is just walking in place for those few minutes. The process of moving first your right foot, and then your left (or left and then right!), activates the connection between your right and left brain sections. This helps you think more creatively and effectively.
Re-focusing my thinking on the process instead of the end result has helped me so much. I hope it helps someone else, too!
P.S. The â€œLearning How to Learnâ€ course is being offered again by Coursera. It is free and worth checking out. The course began on October 3, but you can jump in at any time during the four week course. Here is the link: https://www.coursera.org/course/learning
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when Iâ€™m slow