Nov 102007

As many of you know, I believe in having multiple mental models that I can use to look at problems differently and thus find creative or different solutions to them. Today, I want to look at procrastination from a Power of Now/Intention-Manifestation context.

Procrastination (like all negative emotions) is resistance. Resistance is created by not accepting what IS, focusing too much on what ISN’T (such as the future, which doesn’t exist, or the past, which exists only in your memory) and/or by being too attached to certain things.

Let’s compare this to the “psychology” of procrastination, which states that a common cause of procrastination is perfectionism. The desire to make something perfect, the expectation of yourself to do really well. Sometimes, it is said that this perfectionism stems from equating your worth as a person to whatever it is you’re doing. So, your grades define your worth as a person, or this project defines your worth as a person. What does that sound like? To me, it sounds like attachment to certain expectations, as well as an ego-based view of yourself.

The real value of having multiple mental models, as I’ve said before, is to be able to develop many different solutions. In this case, a few solutions that come to mind are to just start playing with whatever you want to get done. Get playful and let go of expectations. The importance of whatever you want to do exists only in your head (your head creates your subjective reality, after all), so let go of the “importance” and become detached. Ironically, not caring so much about the end results helps you to enjoy the process and to have a better end result after all.

Another quick tip: approach this from a behavioural perspective. I got this tip from Tim Ferris of The 4-Hour Work Week. What do you do when you’re procrastinating? Everyone has a few things that we default to when we want to put off something uncomfortable. It might be watching TV, smoking, talking to friends on MSN Messenger or other IM program, Facebook, or what have you. For me, I continually refresh the same five or six websites. (Un)fortunately, those websites aren’t updated often, so I usually just end up seeing no change for hours. Yea, its a pretty boring thing to do.

Procrastination is actually a strategy. Its not a “bad” thing (our ego-minds create such labels), it is a strategy for avoiding something uncomfortable. It may not be the best strategy to avoid the uncomfortable, but procrastination does serve a purpose. The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize (perhaps by noticing that you are doing one of your procrastination behaviours) and accepting that you are procrastinating, instead of trying to resist it. Then you can choose to either do the thing, or consciously put it off till later and stop being drained by it.


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