We all procrastinate. The question is how (or even whether) we overcome the tendency to procrastinate, and if we can find focus.
This matters — our lives are brief and limited, and while we don’t need to be productivity robots, running in fear of difficult tasks to distractions and comfort is not the best way to spend our lives.
We can face these fears. We can learn to deal with them mindfully. And in doing so, we can develop an ability to return with courage to the work that matters the most to us, to create something important, something that helps the world at least in a small way.
Distraction and running aren’t useful habits. Let’s learn to overcome them and find focus to create.
The Procrastination FearsWhy do we run from hard tasks? Because of fears:
We all have fears, but our habit is to run from them. Avoid even thinking about them. Our minds are very good at this.
We get distracted and then forget completely about what we were supposed to be doing. Our minds are good at forgetting and getting lost.
We try to focus, but then immediately we have an urge to switch to something else, because staying is uncomfortable. Our minds love comfort, hate discomfort, and will run to comfort every time, if we let them.
So that’s why we procrastinate … but how do we overcome this?
Overcoming ProcrastinationOur minds are very good at running from discomfort, and most of the time we don’t even realize it’s happening. We just have an urge to switch, and follow the urge immediately.
The trick then, is to catch ourselves when we’re about to switch. When the urge comes up to switch, we have to notice.
Then we have to pause, and deal mindfully instead of mindlessly with the urge.
Finding FocusFocusing on one thing is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Whether you want to focus on writing a report or a book chapter, focus on drawing or practicing music, focus on reading or meditating on your breath … your mind is in the habit of switching to something else.
Focusing, then, is a matter of practicing staying.
In the Unprocrastination Sessions I described above, we talked about how to practice staying. In addition, I’d like to offer a few more practical tips:
In the end, all the practice will be worth it, because you’ll learn to focus on things that truly matter. And that is a life worth living, in my experience.