Last week I talked about preparing the attack on procrastination. Today, I want to talk about understanding what makes it tick and why we are procrastinating to begin with – the source of procrastination on earth, if you will.
As you probably know, we were hunters and gatherers thousands of years ago. We needed to get our own food and complete our to-do list in order to survive. We managed our time according to our survival instinct.
The thing is, as we developed technology, our own evolution was stunted. Our brain is more or less the same brain, and our instincts (though dimmed by thousands of years of not being connected to the wild) are the same hunter instincts.
Hunters needed the following skills to survive:
Pursue the prey – Great speed and reflexes that enable us to run. We were not meant to sit in one place for too long. That’s why we’re impulsive.
Subdue the prey – Powerful bursts of power increase our exhaustion mentally and physically. Often, we leave everything for the last minute, and try to quickly finish everything at the last minute…leaving us exhausted.
Cook the prey – Finally cooking and eating the food was our reward. Although today, we often don’t reward ourselves for accomplishing our tasks.
So, the reason you are can’t stop procrastinating is because you are a hunter, right? Let’s assume that you can work with your hunter mind and skills to help you stop procrastinating.
How would a hunter tackle procrastination?
#1 Use traps. Good hunters are hunters that don’t burn energy running after prey.
You can achieve much more by automation. task management tools and methods that can help you concentrate all your efforts and manage everything from one place. Use it so you won’t get distracted or get concerned that you are missing something. That way, everything is handed to you and arranged for you.
#2 Set yourself on a path. Pick up the scent and make sure that nothing distracts you.
Use these mini-tips to help you:
- When you sit and work, have a snack next to you.
- Make a list of milestones and tasks to complete – then prioritize.
- Before you start a task, break it down into smaller tasks.
- Don’t multitask. Complete the most important tasks first and then move to the next one.
#3 Sharpen your spear!
Grab a tool, grab a technique and start practicing them repeatedly until they become second nature. Practice makes perfect, and repetition makes a habit.
#4 Use your bow and arrow until you hit the target, and then repeat!
Make sure you set your targets and do everything you can do to achieve them. Tell yourself why you are doing this task and how achieving your goal will help you progress to the next step. “Measure” the distance between you and your target to estimate exactly what it takes to achieve your goal.
#5 Tell your shaman that you will bring him the finest piece of the kill as an offering.
As I’ve explained in my previous post, you need to make a public commitment. But, your public commitment is only good if you make it in front of someone that you don’t want to disappoint: a mentor figure or someone that you admire and love. Someone who can even teach you how to stop procrastinating.
#6 Save your life by getting rid of unnecessary habits.
Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), said, “Procrastination is just our involuntary behavior and we’re choosing not to override it.”
So apparently, procrastination is rooted deep inside us (in our hunter minds) and we are choosing not to fight it. What does that mean? Are we just lazy?
As with any bad habit, we need self-discipline and determination to win the fight. Make the choice to stop Procrastinating and create a new habit called, “Progress!”
#7 When you need to hunt, hunt. When you need to rest, rest.
Save your energy for when you actually do your tasks. Don’t think about them before you tackle them. It will only agitate you and it won’t get you anywhere. Write your to-dos down and set a time to tackle them.
#8 Discharge your stored energy – go for the kill!
You’re all pumped, everything is in place, you’ve got lists and broken down micro-tasks and you’re ready to go! Your prey now steps into the shallow water. All you need to do is open that document, get into that car or make that call. Once you start, the arrow will launch itself hit the mark!
#9 Cook it, eat it and digest!
Create a reward system that will motivate you, but decide that it’s only attainable when you achieve your goals. Take a moment to look at what you’ve accomplished and be proud of your success.
However, even the smartest hunters can be tricked. To stop procrastinating you need to be creative, stay focused and alert even when your environment throws something at you that you didn’t expect. When the unexpected comes at you, don’t use it as an excuse. Evaluate it, prioritize and continue your hunt!