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The Hidden Truth that Keeps You Procrastinating

The Hidden Truth that Keeps You Procrastinating

We’re half way through the first quarter of 2013, the excitement and enthusiasm of New Year’s resolutions has started to wear off and have become a vague memory for many. Time passes as you settle back into your ‘usual’ routine and life continues, but what happened to the goals you were once so excited about? Most people will laugh it off to procrastination or just being really busy, but the truth is, there may be another hidden key player in this entire holdup.

It is normal if you procrastinate to some degree or another, but it starts to become a big problem when it undermines your results and hinders normal functioning. It is almost like self-sabotage, yet we continue to do it, why? There are many reasons why you might procrastinate, in fact most of the time it can actually be related to someting more serious and your first symptom is procrastination.

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The Internal War

However, procrastination is in fact, an avoidance behavior on a physical level as well.  Two parts of our brain are having an internal war when we are procrastinating, the pre fontal cortex and the limbic system are fighting each other to either ‘do the work’ or ‘relax a little longer’.  Your prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain which is located behind your forehead and it is really good with planning ahead, making decisions, strategizing, etc. It is the weaker, newer part of your brain which is not on automatic. The limbic system however, is on automatic and it doesn’t get tired easily, this is your pleasure seeking part of the brain. It is the more powerful part of your brain and it just wants to give you immediate satisfaction.

When you are not consciously engaged in a task, your limbic system usually takes over. Knowing this can be good and bad news. The good news is that there is nothing seriously wrong with you – it’s normal, you were not born with a deficiency in your productivity genes. The bad news is, however, that you will always have these two parts of your brain going at each other, although you can make it easier for yourself! Here’s how:

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Moving Forward

If you are procrastinating and it is affecting your results negatively, here is what you need to do.

1.     Identify

First you need to identify why you are procrastinating. You want to get to the root cause so take note of the emotions you are feeling when you procrastinate. Are you feeling unmotivated, lacking clarity, confidence or fearing failure? Think about what you would need to have in place that would make it easier for you. Remember that it could also just be your biological factors testing your will power again.

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2.     Plan

Now that you have a clearer idea why you are procrastinating, make a plan and learn different ways that you can break the barriers and finally move forward to achieve the results you know you can get. Learn how you can beat procrastination once and for all.

3.     It’s nothing serious, just an internal war

If you are convinced that you don’t have serious procrastination problems, just an over active limbic system, here’s what you do

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  • Inhibit the limbic system – You need to remove all your temptations and distractions because the limbic system definitely gets more powerful when temptation is close, so take it as far away from you as you can! You know what I’m talking about – turn off the internet, your email notifications, try to reduce the tangibility of things that tempt you.
  • The long term solution – Keep exercising your prefrontal cortex. Your brain is like a muscle and with repetition, it will become stronger and easier to focus  when needed.

Imagine how much more you could achieve if you stopped procrastinating, how different would your life be right now? If you want to kick your procrastination habits – start to identify why you might be procrastinating, follow the simple steps above and take control of your results now!

 

 

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks to Make 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated) How To Break the Procrastination Cycle Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That) How To Control Your Emotions Effectively

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

How to Make Time Go Faster When You’re Having a Bad Time

How to Make Time Go Faster When You’re Having a Bad Time

Standing at the front of the room, your heart is pounding as people stroll in, and you’ve been up since 5 am rehearsing. You’ve spent weeks preparing for this moment. Your slides are perfect, and you’ve memorized your talk.

As the clock shows 9:30, you begin with a customary “good morning” and then zilch. Nothing. Your mind goes blank. Suddenly, time seems to stop. Everything goes into slow motion, and you can feel your face begin to burn.

For anyone who has done presentations in front of a live audience, freezing at the wrong time is a nightmare waiting to happen, and when it does, if feels like time has frozen. The feeling of helplessness drags on, and you just wish the clock would fast forward so you can escape from the nightmare.

Of course, the reality is that time does not speed up or slow down. Time is constant; only our perception of passing time changes[1]. This is a good thing, too. What is happening is that your fight or flight response is kicking in, and you have become hyper-aware of your situation. Your brain is recognizing you are in danger and responding in the best way it knows how.

This perceived slowing down of time is an illusion[2]. It is your brain creating and processing more memories of your current environment and searching out the threat it has detected. It’s searching for the predator that has decided you look like an exquisite meal, and it is doing this incredibly fast — much faster than it typically would. It is how we protect ourselves, and, in most cases, it is a beneficial response.

However, in many cases, it can be torturous to be in this situation, feeling helpless and frozen and being hyper-aware of our unfortunate situation. So what can you do to speed up the perception of time?

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1. Have a Backup Plan

If you cast your mind back to the situation at the start of this article, your brain has frozen and your carefully crafted words are lost somewhere inside your head: What do you do? Most people panic, and, despite their careful preparation and rehearsal, one part they did not rehearse is when or if something goes wrong.

Freezing on stage can happen to even the most seasoned presenter, and having a script or a set of queue cards on hand can quickly refresh/reboot your brain to get you back on track and avoid the torturous feeling of being in a slow-motion crash.

Steve Jobs was a very experienced presenter. One of the best. Yet even though his preparation was meticulous — often taking as much as six months to put together a keynote presentation — things still went wrong. In this famous clip of a keynote Steve Jobs gave back in 2010, the WIFI network was very slow. When you watch the clip, it feels like it goes on forever, yet it only lasts around two and a half minutes. For a presentation that lasted about two hours, two and a half minutes is around two per cent. Not at all long, yet for Steve Jobs and the audience, the whole incident felt a lot longer.

Fortunately, as a seasoned presenter, Steve Jobs broke the tension and the feeling that time was slowing down by using humor and eventually moving on to the next part of the keynote. He had a backup, and his backup was to quickly, and without fuss, move on to the next segment.

Always have a backup plan and an exit strategy. Be prepared for the worst and be ready to switch to your backup plan if things do go wrong.

2. Focus on What You Have Control Over

You have control over three things: your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions. Nothing else. You cannot control events, how other people judge you, or whether another person will get upset by what you say or do.

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Most bad days are a result of the way we react to something we have no control over. A client takes their business to your rival. You had no control over that. That was a decision your client made based on a set of circumstances and the way they felt about those circumstances. The only control you have in this situation is how you feel about losing a client. You could be angry; you might look around for someone to blame or for an excuse. But in the end, none of that will change the fact you no longer serve that client.

In these situations, always begin by reminding yourself about what you have control over. Are there any positive action steps you can take that will solve the problem? Are you allowing your emotions to influence your mood? Are you thinking negatively or positively about this situation?

In all these scenarios, you can instantly decide to change your thoughts, your feelings, and the action you take. You have to make that decision.

If you do lose an important client, and there is no solution, you can use the experience to learn. Use it as an opportunity to analyze what went wrong and implement changes to the way you do things that minimize the chances of a similar situation happening with your other clients in the future.

Dwelling on the loss will prolong your suffering, slowing down perceived time and making you feel dreadful. Using the situation to learn from your mistakes will help you to get back on track and keep time moving forward at a pace you are satisfied with.

3. Take Full Responsibility for the Situation

Accepting full responsibility for your life allows you to overcome adversity and difficulties. While a massive viral pandemic may not be your fault, what you do in the circumstances is your responsibility.

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Being in lockdown, where you must remain in your home, is something beyond your control (see number 2), but what you do with your time, how you manage your work, and how you maintain your health is your responsibility.

Governments may order you to stay at home, but what you do with your time while you are at home is something you are responsible for.

In these situations, you have a choice. Use the extra time you have positively, or pass responsibility for your life to the daily negative news cycles.

When you take responsibility for your life, you take back control[3].

Complaining about the situation only ensures you stay stuck in the same miserable place. Accepting responsibility for your life gives you so many more options.

You could take that online course you have been thinking about doing, or paint that picture you have wanted to do for years. You could clean out your old clothes, do the spring cleaning, or clear out your garage. There are hundreds of things you could do that, before this global pandemic, you always complained you had no time for. Now you do have time.

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Busying yourself with these tasks turns any bad situation into an opportunity, and time will no longer seem such a drudge; instead, it will feel like a godsend.

Key Takeaways

There are many inevitabilities in life. One of those inevitabilities is that you will have bad times. Dwelling on your lousy situation, complaining, and reliving the experience over and over will only cause time to slow down perceptually.

Accepting the inevitable, approaching it with a “cest la vie” mindset. and looking for the positives will soon pull you away from the difficult times and back to more fertile areas where you can thrive and grow, and time will begin to feel much faster.

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Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

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