Then there are those rare fleeting moments when productivity and creativity just pours out completely effortlessly. When the words just keep on coming, keep on flowing, when all the numbers make sense, when all the dots line up, when one thing leads to another with such beautiful grace and simplicity. At times like this you almost have no control, it’s as if a hidden energy source is channeling its way through you and you are merely a vessel.
But sometimes I have to close my eyes and actually look into my mind to see and hear my thoughts. Sometimes I need complete silence to really hear my thoughts, to make sense of all the neurons firing, trying to form complete sentences, remember what it is I’m trying to say and finally guide my fingers as they stomp away on my keyboard, rapidly attempting to spew out all the nonsensical phrases in my brain and to make sense of it all.
Only problem is that I detest silence. I would rather be in the midst of blaring car horns than sit in silence. Silence is the evil queen; sound is my prince charming. Or at least that’s what I always thought.
Turns out that it’s not silence I hate, but the parade of internal chatter and the negative feelings that cause so much distress. Have you ever tried to listen to your internal voices when you put off a difficult task? What you hear probably isn’t that pretty and probably doesn’t make for the most harmonious work environment. So I thought it would be a smart idea to figure out why I can’t seem to get this article done. To get behind the automatic chatter I can’t seem to get away from, to try to figure out what I’m doing or thinking that’s preventing me from tapping into that volcano of creative energy that enables me to get this article done. And then, having figured all of that out, to try to stop doing/ thinking what I’m doing/thinking to not get this article done, in order for me to finally be able to get this article done. I promise that all made sense.
Like the ever-curious student, I’ve been holding many scientific experiments with myself over the past twelve hours. I see how I feel trying to work with the TV on vs. the TV off.
Maybe things will go faster, smoother trying to record every thought I have on my phone rather the straining to put the words down on paper. Do naps allow me to think clearer? Is drinking tea or coffee more conducive? I’ve tried variations of self-talk: ‘Do not judge the words’, ‘Just put it all down’, ‘Just do it’, ‘Just get started!’
In the midst of the obvious failures of my experiments I’ve discovered one saving grace about my ailment; I am most certainly not alone in facing difficulties getting stuff done, and the fact is that we all, at some point or other procrastinate. But though associated with laziness, disorganization and a lack of will power, procrastination has more to do with a universal weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.
Our procrastinating mind comes from a very primitive place; think of it as your monkey or lizard brain. It seeks pleasure, it has severe difficulties self-regulating, it cannot distinguish between wants and needs, it cannot stand discomfort or frustration; it simply wants to ‘give in to feel good’. Here are some interesting findings from various studies performed to demystify why we procrastinate: