I’d like to talk a little bit about productivity and beating procrastination. While I think the terms and diagnoses (whether fake or self-diagnosed) are thrown around far too liberally these days, I do believe in ADD in adults. I was officially diagnosed when I was about 17 and spent the better part of 8 or 9 years taking Adderall to combat this.
As you can read on my other website (that I’m working to revamp currently), I didn’t like the way that drug made me feel and I began experimenting and looking for a natural alternative. Alpha Brain has helped me tremendously over the last couple years. Still, I often feel at war with my brain when it comes to productivity and procrastination.
As an entrepreneur, it is far too easy to push deadlines back and make excuses. We don’t have anyone to hold us accountable, so why not spend a little extra time on Facebook or YouTube? As work gets tougher, heavier, and means more (i.e. you need to make some fucking money), it gets strangely easier to put stuff off.
I am constantly looking for new ways to be more productive and efficient. Over the last few days, however, I’ve actually been looking more at beating procrastination in order to be productive rather than just looking at productivity hacks. These two things obviously go hand in hand, but I feel I’ve already got some decent tools and habits for productivity. Where I struggle the most is with beating procrastination.
An interesting blog post from LifeHacker Australia highlights some research from psychotherapist Jude Bijou. What is most fascinating to me is the finding that procrastination isn’t necessarily a lack of motivation. In fact, it is often times due to an unexpressed deeper emotion.
If you check out that article, you’ll see that Bijou’s theory points to emotions like stress, anger, anxiety, or sadness that cause procrastination. 3 of those 4 (maybe even all 4) are emotions that entrepreneurs (especially new ones) probably feel on a constant revolving basis.
Stress. Anxiety. Sadness.
Three things I definitely feel regularly. Three things I feel daily. Three things that I work so hard to not feel, but can’t always shake.
I’ve noticed that damn near 99.9% of the time, just starting to work on something for my business makes me feel better. Actually working makes the stress, anxiety, and sadness go away.
But therein lies the vicious, vicious cycle. Stress, anxiety, and sadness cause procrastination. Procrastination causes me to not do the one thing – work – that will get rid of those feelings. I don’t start working, so the stress, anxiety, and sadness get bigger.
Then it’s even harder to start.
All of this is not to be a downer. I’m actually a happy person. I’ve just been feeling the heaviness of everything lately and looking for a change to whip me back into shape.
I write this for you to know you’re definitely not alone if you’re feeling this way.
While practicing the Miracle Morning has made a huge difference in my life, I fell away from it a bit for the last week or two. I’ve gotten back on track with it this week and am already feeling much better. With how my ADD brain works, however, I still need some tricks for beating procrastination to help out throughout the day.
The Miracle Morning sets me on the right foot to having a productive day. I just have to trick myself a little to stay on top of it.
Here are the top 3 things I do to trick myself into beating procrastination
The Pomodoro Method
With the Pomodoro Method, you set a timer for 25 minutes and work hard for those 25 minutes. This is called a Pomodoro. After one, you take a break for about 5 minutes.
Then you do another.
After you’ve done 2 or 3 of these, you take a longer break. 20 minutes or so will do the trick, but you can push it to 30 if you’ve done a few Pomodoros already.
I’ve toyed with this method on and off for several months, but haven’t fully stuck to it until the last couple days. It’s funny, though, because every time in the past that I tried it, I felt great! I’m currently trying to implement it hard into my workflow and I’m noticing vast improvements.
It works well with my “Just Start” philosophy because I can focus on anything for 25 minutes. We can all bear down for 25 minutes. I’ve been telling myself, “Just start. In 25 minutes, you can reward yourself and goof off for a few minutes. You’ll feel much better.” And I do!
Turning off All Distractions
This one seems super obvious, but I’d be willing to bet hardly any of us EVER actually implement it. With all of our devices, it’s way too easy to think we need all the alerts and constant information. I get it, I love having all my devices lined up on my desk ready to look at. The truth is, though, that information overload happens far too quickly.
Lately when it’s time to work, I close out all the tabs if I’m in a browser. I close down all the applications on my computer that I’m not using and “full-screen” the one I am. I turn “Do Not Disturb” on on my phone, iPad, watch, and computer.
By putting an extra step in the process, it’s making it that much harder to quickly check another site or program or alert and it truly helps.
I’ve even been experimenting with white noise and/or music that is intended to help the listener focus. While I sometimes forget to turn one of these on, I do notice an increase in my focus when I do. I think these tools will be the next that I work to fully implement.
I wrote about this briefly when I wrote about the Miracle Morning, but I’m a huge fan of visualizing. It started when I was a kid and hardcore into baseball – visualizing being in a game and having killer at-bats.
As part of my Miracle Morning, I spend a very brief portion visualizing my day, but I try to go bigger and broader for the majority. Long-term goals and aspirations are my focus in the mornings.
Every night before I go to bed, however, I visualize my next day. Usually I play through my day a couple times, actually, to really let it sink in. I think about what time and how I’m going to wake up, what I’m going to eat for breakfast, what projects I’ll work on, and everything else I want out of my day.
The days after I visualize aren’t always perfect and rarely (probably never) go EXACTLY as I visualized, but the days after a night where I don’t visualize are almost complete wastes. For me, the difference in a day where I visualize the night before and a day where I don’t is astounding.
Visualizing truly sets me up to be on track the next day and I kick myself every time I don’t.
Wrapping it Up
Again, I’m sorry for the front half of this post being a little on the sad side. My goal with this blog, though, is to be completely honest and open. I know that there are other people out there with these same struggles, so hopefully you are reading this and know you’re not alone. Sometimes I feel like I am, but I know that’s not the truth.
Hopefully you’ve found these 3 tips to beating procrastination useful. I’m constantly experimenting with new ways, so check back over the next several weeks for more ideas. I’ll share what works for me and what doesn’t.
Do you have any tips for beating procrastination? I’d love to hear them and try them out for myself, so let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page!