Be More Productive By Quinn Eurich Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T. S. Eliot Oh, let’s face it. Use it, love it, or hate it, you procrastinate. We all do. Procrastination is a label that covers all manners of behaviors, from passive aggressive attempts at being in control, to the controls you put in place to overcome it. Procrastination is a workaround, a tactic, a coping mechanism that helps you navigate your way around your pain points. They are the emotional wounds, the expectations others have of you, and those you have of yourself that you can’t quite meet. Like focusing on how you procrastinate, despairing of ever getting over it, or figuring out how to put controls in place to overcome it, and what are you actually doing? You’re zeroing in a behavior without looking into the causes of it. Unless you can understand what’s behind your procrastination, you’re stuck on that hamster wheel with no chance of doing anything different. Procrastination represents both the tip of the iceberg (the behavior) and the water (subconscious) that hides all that’s going on beneath it. How about doing a little diving and discovering what’s down there? No special skills necessary, but it’s not a journey to be taken lightly. If you’re happy in your life and content to have it remain as it is, this is not a journey you want to take. Diving into the shadows hidden beneath your procrastination will change you. Finding the emotional energy sources that have been powering those behaviors automatically transforms them into something else. If you’re ready to get started, let’s reveal how you can go about finding and reclaiming your power. How to Outsmart Procrastination: The Process Life is busy and distracting. For quests of this sort, preparation is necessary. Have paper and pen handy, and block out 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll need solitude and contemplation to focus the mind and muffle the daily mind noise. How else can you hear the inner voice sharing what you need to know? In contemplation, you’ll have more opportunities to get insights and vignettes of memories that can lead you where you need to go. As you sit quietly, think of the ways you procrastinate. Which one seems to resonate with you more, or keeps popping up and snaring your attention. Hold this one in your mind and ask yourself: What is really going on behind this particular way I procrastinate? Why do I do it when I know it’s not helpful? What am I resisting? Why? What’s really going on? Then just let your mind float for a few minutes. The answers you already know will pop-up again. Acknowledge them and ask, “What else is going on?” Begin writing down the answers you get as the act of writing slows your mind so that you can keep up with it. The path you’re traveling is a circular one that wanders in the same way life does. It doesn’t mean that you’re wandering around in circles, just traversing different levels of the path that move you ever deeper. It may seem that the same issues arise repeatedly, but each time they do, you’re addressing them with an awareness and wisdom that’s also deepening. When the things asking for your attention peter out, take a few deep breaths and some gentle stretches in preparation for leaving the session. Don’t worry if your session ran short or long; it was what it needed to be at that time. The Ways Your Mind Communicates As you get ready to end your contemplation, take a moment to pause and ask yourself how you feel. Accept and release the feelings with a couple more deep breaths. Make pausing and asking yourself how you feel a regular practice to do throughout your day. It will help you collect your thoughts, calm your mind, and reclaim some of the power your busy mind was using. The easiest time to take those pauses is when you’re transitioning from one activity to another. If scheduling them into your day works better for you, shoot for about six times. As you do this deep work and daily practices, keep one eye open for meaningful coincidences that bring insights or clarify understanding about something. You may find yourself remembering things long forgotten or having dreams that are related to your quest. This is your mind communicating with you in the only ways it can. Practice accruing bits and pieces of insights from books. Select one, any one of any genre, that captures your attention. Before opening it, instruct your subconscious to turn to a page with something to help you out. Doing more contemplation and journaling will help move the process along. Try other things as well – take quiet walks in the woods or through a museum, go window shopping, or get a massage. What The Process Can Look Like After more years than I care to mention, I finally got fed up with my last-minute Christmas wrapping rush that had me channeling Scrooge. When I began looking into it, all I got was a bunch of disparate, fragmented memories from my childhood. At first, I didn’t know what to do with them, but they kept popping up, so I knew they were important. As I began writing then down, I had the oddest sensation of experiencing how I felt as a child, but with an adult understanding of the emotions I was feeling. As a child, you have only the power that adults grant to you, and I had none. It was five volatile adults and me in a tiny house. To them, appearances were very important, at holidays, or at any gathering that took place when others were present. That included weddings, funerals, school, church services, Sunday School, talking to your friends’ parents, and even riding the bus. They demanded a never-ending performance. Is it any wonder that my passive-aggressive Christmas procrastination was the “safe” expression of deeply ingrained anger and resentment? And still unresolved feelings of being powerless? It was a bit rough reliving those feelings. I was thankful that when the tissues ran out, I had plenty of paper towels, and I was grateful for a stash of dark chocolate covered mints in the freezer. No longer driven by my powerless past, I felt more centered, powerful, and capable of choosing my responses to my family. I was in the driver’s seat, and I loved it! Can you imagine how freeing it will be for you when you awaken to how your subconscious was the driving force behind some of the things you were going through? Don’t Forget Cloaked Procrastination If you have routines or methods in place so that you don’t procrastinate, you need to look at why. Just because you’ve managed to avoid them doesn’t mean you’ve reclaimed your power from them. My bill-paying routine made me feel good about how to outsmart my procrastination. However, it did not make the task of paying them any less depressing, so I dove into that one too. Given my traumatic childhood, it was no surprise that my journey once again led me there. I never had money of my own. Every week I was given fifty cents to take to the bank and give to the teller. Sometimes I got a lollipop. Money belonged to adults and was something about which they complained. Money was a sore subject, and I was never taught how to handle it. Not a good thing when you’re self-employed. Thankfully, looking at this procrastination did not have me reaching for the paper towels or frozen chocolate mints. One thing it did do was have me charging more for my services. Kind of makes you wonder what getting to the bottom of your procrastination is going to do for you, doesn’t it? Challenge Yourself, and Change Your Life Outsmarting procrastination is a process of awakening your mind to see how much more there is to your life than you thought. It’s not the easiest thing to do since you don’t know exactly what it is you’re looking for nor what you’ll find. Sometimes, it will seem straightforward and fairly easy. Other times, it’ll be like a complicated dance where you can only catch a glimpse of something before it disappears, or you go off in a different direction. Then just before the dance ends, you meet face-to-face. When that happens, the power it has been using all this time is released and given back to you. While everyone procrastinates, your way of doing so— including the way you’ve overcome any procrastination— is your starting point. It’s where you begin your inquiry into what’s really going on with that part of your life. This process requires time, attention, and determination to find the true reasons behind the behavior. That means it happens according to the time frame that’s best for you. What I did changed my life. It can change yours too. All you have to do is ask – what’s really going on? Then get ready to discover the answers. Double-dog dare ya! About the Author: Quinn Eurich knows firsthand just how troublesome and challenging it can be to deal with anxiety and panic. You can pick up your free copy of her 10 Tips to Outsmart Anxiety (Whatever the Situation) by, clicking here.