Friday, 29 April 2016

Procrastinating? Ask Five Questions...

This is a great tip, from Blake Thorne, via Kristin Wong at LifeHacker.

Apparently, procrastination can be beneficial. It arises from a stoush between our limbic system and our pre-frontal cortex. Our limbic system deals with the 'act RIGHT NOW!' stuff, and our pre-frontal cortex is the solutions/thinking centre.

Our limbic system is our 'Are we there yet?!' voice when we are doing stuff that has no immediate pay off, and can be what derails us from achieving our long-term goals. Our pre-frontal cortex  is our Nana voice, focused on us brushing our teeth and saving for retirement.

Thorne points out that people whom we think are successful are not pre-frontal cortex-driven. Instead they are procrastinators.

However, they are procrastinators of a unique type. Thorne cites Paul Graham, who has "noticed three types of procrastinators, based on the activities they pursue instead of what they 'should be doing'". Not 'nothing', not 'something less important', but 'something more important'.

They procrastinate because they are 'supposed' to be doing something that is not genuine or really calling to them. They postpone the minutiae to work on important things. For example, when you can't get into start the project, but want to keep going back and re-planning. That may well be because there is something missing.

So how do you find out whether you are being a 'something more important' procrastinator? Ask yourself these questions:
  1. What are the long-term benefits of the task I’m putting off?
  2. Can I do without those benefits?
  3. Can I achieve the same benefits through some other task?
  4. Can I replace those benefits with equally valued benefits that are achieved some other way?
  5. Can I delegate or outsource the activity and receive the same benefits?

A no to the first or a yes to questions two to five should allow you to ditch or reorganise the task.

Even just allowing yourself the question time should give you space to reflect and redirect.



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