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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

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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