Procrastination is just a warning light that we can use as a gage and make adjustments as necessary. To solve procrastination, you need to deal your own drugs. The drugs that we are talking about are the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphin.
Rule #1. Don’t listen to idiots. “Eat that frog”. “Grind it Out”.
We are not doing ourselves any favors by not listening to our bodies. Procrastination means that we are low on dopamine. We are going to perform at a lower level and therefore take twice or four times as long on a task and be even worse for the wear. Never ever grind out a task. I have a 15 minute rule. I check in every 15 minutes and gage my progress. If I am not productive I switch to low hanging fruit tasks that can be accomplished quickly. The idea here is that I start to build my momentum up and get the dopamine pump flowing and then when I feel like my momentum is building, ride that wave to the task I am putting off. Also menial, low hanging fruit tasks have a way of giving your brain a breather to focus on the tougher tasks ahead. Mindlessness is as good as mindfulness.
Also, procrastination may be an indicator that you are trying to do something the “linear” or “hard way”. When my procrastination light turns on, I start to look at all the baggage I am bringing to the task. You may think, What Baggage? Here let me help you with that. What idiots are you following the advice of ? What biases are you adding to the problem? I have often found that exercising my lateral thinking muscle has provided novel solutions that reduced the task to a simple and easy one to accomplish. I think humans are addicted to heroine: the “hero” story where we fought against all the odds and eventually got the prize. That makes for great movie, but for great productivity and to kill procrastination, use your thinking noodle to get to the happy ending asap.
Rule 2. Me = idiot. We = exponential results.
When you feel important and part of a group, you are reacting to the neurotransmitter called seratonin. Your brain creates seratonin to help you feel included and recognized. People who feel lonely and excluded are found to have low levels of seratonin. Is the task you are working on feel like you are on a lonely island? Then “We it up”. Make it a group task. Break the task down into independently executable “unit tasks” and delegate. By group tasking, you share the misery of the dreaded task but also you get to leverage other peoples inputs on the task. Also, you are working on your seratonin level, which should reduce any depression or isolation you feel working on that dreaded task. Second, dopamine should kick up as well as the team completes the unit tasks you will feel momentum as if you accomplished it on your own. Momentum is contagious.
Rule 3. Where’s your carrot?
We are lead to believe that delayed gratification is a good thing. This is dumb conventional advice. Do you really think you can fool your body and push that carrot further and further into the future? That you can grind it out and your body is going to be okay with it? Sustainable gratification where you are rewarding yourself in a manner that is sustainable for accomplishing tasks can even make the hardest of tasks achieveable. Even if a task has been “We’d up” , still give yourself sustainable gratification. What we are trying to do is to keep a positive feedback loop that will drive the dopamine pump higher. The “human system” is predicated on pattern recognition. Make the pattern be frequent effort = frequent reward.
Rule 4. Your nutrition is your catalyst to production.
What fuel are you feeding your own mission critical system? Sugar and Salt ? Fried foods? No Salads? Omega 3 deficient ? Vitamin D deficient? Are vegetables part of your diet or do you even know what a vegetable is? What’s your water intake? When you fail on nutrition, you fail in production. So quickly, reduce sugar and salt. Fried foods no more. Add salads with a lean meat or fish ( salmon , tuna, chicken, turkey or bison ). Organic if you can . Make sure you get your fish oil (many benefits to EPA / DHA). Water is vital. Get your Vitamin D as more likely than not you are already deficient in and is very amazing for your overall wellbeing. Vegetables are nature’s pharmacy. Get addicted.
So what does this have to do with procrastination? We want to make sure that you are fully charged. If you lack in nutrition your body is going to go into triage mode and just like when the power goes out and the generator kicks in and only some systems are getting the full power they need and others run limited capacity, the same thing happens when you have provided your body with all its power requirements. We want to make sure your Ferrari is not stuck in a parking lot of potato chips , hotdogs, caramel latte’s and baconators speed bumps. You are meant to be at 200 mph. So stop being so slow. Eat well to go fast.
Rule 5. Laugh it up and get stinky.
Endorphin is another vital neurotransmitter that helps your body overcome pain and stress. If you stub your toe, hit your head, or suffer another injury, your brain rushes to produce endorphins so that you find relief your from your pain quickly. It acts a powerful analgesic and mimics the same effect on your body as morphine. Yay, morphine! So if you are just dragging along not making any progress on a task think about your mood at that moment. More likely than not you are stressed which is then overwhelming you and putting things to a halt. To unstress, here are the hacks you can do. You can coax your own body into creating more endorphins by laughing more. Keeping a sense of humor about life, making it a point to laugh at jokes, or trying to find the lighter side of your existence can encourage endorphin production in your brain. Finally, you can hack this happiness chemical with aromatherapy and food. Scents like lavender and vanilla induce feelings of happiness and also help your brain make endorphins. Likewise, eating spicy food or dark chocolate has the same effect on your brain. As we destress, use the other hacks to get that task knocked out.
Procrastinating is not a disease that only afflicts those with the fail gene. It’s what makes us human and is like the check engine light to the car. Do not grind it out but actually diagnose why the light went on and up your drug dealing and lateral thinking game. Life is too precious to waste time tasking away without rhyme or reason. You are meant to be exponential. The world needs more super heroes.