What do you want in life? Cliché I know, but does your ambition wake you up in the morning? Or has it become something you’ve repressed because you no longer believe it is attainable. Procrastination will and does suppress ambitions.
But the truth is, everyone procrastinates. Everyone. And sometimes, procrastination can be a good thing.
Instead of seeing one’s self as “a procrastinator” or a “victim of procrastination,” let’s understand procrastination as a tool to focus on what matters—your ambition. Or better, the tasks that move you toward your ambition.
When you make a list of things you need to get done, you’re essentially making a list of things you need to procrastinate. The number one task on that list is what you should not procrastinate. Duh!
And the other tasks? Procrastinate!
Ahha! Now we get to the part where anxiety builds up. You have all those other things on the list—some of which you know you could get done right now. But you know what, right now those things are not important. Those are the tasks you NEED to procrastinate!
Focus! Don’t even think about other tasks, or whether you’ve had enough to eat. Focus!
But how? My brain just doesn’t let me!
When we were children we learned a cool trick. A very immature trick that doesn’t help anybody. No one!
Doesn’t it feel good to procrastinate?
Of course it does! Temporarily.
You see, when our brains anticipate a difficult task a particularly interesting region of the brain lights up. Neuroscientists have identified this region to be the same region that lights up when we experience pain.
We show that, when anticipating an upcoming math-task, the higher one’s math anxiety, the more one increases activity in regions associated with visceral threat detection, and often the experience of pain itself (bilateral dorso-posterior insula).
– Lyons IM, Beilock SL, When Math Hurts
Wha?! Our brains are literally telling us that we are in pain when anticipating a difficult task. And to avoid this pain, yep, we procrastinate.
And procrastinating the most important task will only be met with more pain later, because there is less time to do it.
Interestingly, this relation was not seen during math performance, suggesting that it is not that math itself hurts; rather, the anticipation of math is painful.– Lyons IM, Beilock SL, When Math Hurts
The Pomodoro Technique
Engineered by Francesco Cirillo
What you need:
- A timer
- A task
What you do:
- Clear all distractions
- Pick a place and setting that you know will have the least distractions, and that is designated for your work and study only.
- If you are not using your phone as a timer, turn it off!
- Start timer for 25 minutes
- Focus on your task for the duration of your pomodoro
- No multi-tasking!
- I personally have a ‘Distractions’ notebook so if or when I do have a nagging thought, I can write it down in my notebook so my mind lets it go and I can get right back to my task.
- Reward yourself!
- Take a 5 minute break.
- Reward yourself with a small sweet.
Step 4: muy importante
And the type of reward is important too. Pick a small sweet that you can enjoy for the next minute (I personally like chocolate covered espresso beans).
Savor it! Think about how good it is, and that you deserve it because you completed a pomodoro! To make it even more important to your subconscious mind raise your arms in the air in victory! Because you just took a big step in creating a habit that has the power to change your life.
I’ll write more about why I believe step 4 is so important. But basically it’s a mind hack to tell your subconscious, “whatever it is that I was just doing, I want to do it more.” You’ll start craving pomodoros!
And as long as your priorities are right, you’ll literally start craving productivity too.