Advertising
Advertising

Avoiding The Butterfly Effect, The Supersaurus and Procrastination

Avoiding The Butterfly Effect, The Supersaurus and Procrastination


    In Chaos Theory, “The Butterfly Effect” explains how small changes in conditions can produce results very different from predictions. If good weather is predicted on a day at one side of the world and a butterfly flaps its wings on the other, this could actually cause a storm rather than the good weather as predicted. The flapping of the wings changes the air pressure very slightly causing a weather pattern completely different from the one originally forecast.

    Sometimes one simple action can lead to great results — or avoid catastrophic ones. Have you ever delayed paying a bill, resulting in a fine? The next day you have to leave the office to pay the fine. As a result you miss a meeting, delay handing in your reports and your hair gets wet because you were caught in the rain…and you were supposed to go out for cocktails after work! One simple action could have avoided the storm that followed.

    There may also be a project that you just can’t seem to get started on. You postpone picking it up, make excuses, distract yourself with menial tasks in the hope that it will disappear. Why do we do this?

    Advertising

    One of the chief reasons we avoid work is fear. We are afraid the task may be too big or too difficult for us.

    Fear – Panic – Dread!

    The task looks enormous. Never mind an elephant — this is a Supersaurus! You see yourself as a tiny dot looking up at the largest dinosaur that ever roamed the earth and think:

    “How in the world am I going to get this done? This is impossible, it scares me so much that I’m now going to pretend that dinosaurs (especially the Supersaurus) never existed and I’m going to start ticking all the nice little tasks that I enjoy off my list. Call Mary, yes I can do that, have a little chat and arrange the social club outing much more pleasant that super lizards…”

    But what happens? The super lizard won’t go away. He plagues your dreams.  You push him back into your subconscious and you pretend there will be no repercussions — but, alas, one day you are reminded.

    Advertising

    You are called to a meeting. A meeting in which you are reminded that, in fact, the Supersaurus does exist and all of the other people at the meeting know of his existence. You have no choice now but to face him head on…so what do you do?

    Gaining Clarity

    The fear comes from ignorance. Not having defined exactly what that the Supersaurus is, you sit down and open the files, you look at his size, you understand his form and composition, and then you assess its greatness and then break it down.

    What exactly needs to be done? How long is it going to take? When can this be scheduled into the day? Once you are clear about the size of the task then you can begin to break it down into a manageable size — you know, like a cow or a goat rather than a massive dinosaur.

    Taking Action

    The most important part of avoiding procrastination is the “Do Habit”. The planning and the scheduling is important — vital, in fact — for the smooth running of any project. But without actually standing up and doing something about it nothing will ever progress.

    Advertising

    The Do Habit

    Create a habit of doing. If it’s a project in work or a book you are writing, stop planning and start doing — even if you can only do ten minutes a day. Just do it. After all, ten minutes a day adds up to more than one working day a month. Every little bit helps, so make a plan and create space for the task every day.

    As Bob Marley (and probably someone equally as important person before him) said:

    “Every little action, there’s a Reaction”

    Start the momentum.

    Advertising

    Don’t allow your wings to flap aimlessly and cause a tornado.

    Start consciously fluttering…and the small little actions may just create amazingly big results.

    (Photo credit: Lesser Gull Butterfly via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

    Less Is More: How to Become Productive with Less 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude Why Failure Can Take You One Step Closer to Success 15 Productivity Hacks That Speed Up Your Efficiency 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    Trending in Productivity

    1 How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology) 2 How to Change Habits When You Feel Stuck in a Rut 3 Need Journal Inspiration? 15 Journal Ideas to Kickstart 4 How to Stay Consistent and Realize Your Dreams 5 How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

    Advertising

    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

    Advertising

    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

    Advertising

    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

    Advertising

    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next