Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.
At times it’s a challenge to dive into that next big project. It’s a challenge to finally get started much less finally get finished. Sometimes a good coach helps, sometimes you need to use your own power. There are tools we’ve learned over the years to help us just sink our teeth in and bear the weight of an impending deadline. Most productivity tools don’t go unappreciated when we accomplish such a monumental task. We’ve learned to chunk it out, breaking down the elements of a complex task into manageable pieces. Or there’s doing something first thing in the morning while giving ourselves very strict parameters to be withholding of one or more pleasures until the task is done. Some of us have to battle analysis paralysis before we can accomplish that next right thing. Some of us battle self doubt as it’s hard to be certain if we’ll have the chops to conquer the challenge. Sometimes it’s a desire to be perfect that prevents us from accomplishing the necessary. But wouldn’t it be great to know how to overcome these scenarios? What we could practice overtime to help overcome procrastination and make it a thing of the past once and for all? Well, research points to a solution that happens to be a popular topic these days… Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence has been linked to overcoming procrastination, among its many other useful applications. Check out this study over at Psychology Today. Long story short for you busy powerhouses:
“EI intervention as a good place to start if procrastination is a problem in your own life.”
What’s interesting is becoming more Emotionally Intelligent, more aware and in control of our emotions, leads to faster recognition of negativity and eventually the accumulation of tools to regulate those emotions to become more positive and procrastinate less.
Delayed gratification plays a huge role in procrastination. If you truly believe your work will pay off in the future, you’ll be much more likely to put that effort in. When we are positive the Nucleus Accumbens, playing an important in the reward, pleasure circuit, is able to ‘talk’ more harmoniously with our prefrontal cortex and suggest, “I know it’s not going to be inherently fun to do this work. But if we can just get to it, we will be rewarded down the road.” With more Emotional Intelligence we are more able to access the Nucleus Accumbens and really understand the pending manifestation of rewards from our effort. And it works exactly the opposite way when we are experiencing negativity… When neurological energy is flowing to the Amygdalae, which plays an important role in experiencing anxiety, worry, doubt, and fear, the energy in the Nucleus Accumbens is greatly diminished.
“the brain has a fixed energy budget.”
Emory neurologist and neuroeconomist Gregory Berns, Iconoclast
This makes it literally more difficult to trust delayed gratification or our own prowess with all that limited allocation of energy trapped in our Amygdalae. If we’re devoting the majority share of it to negativity, it will be harder for our brain to really feel like a reward will come from hardship. Then we will more likely procrastinate. We’ll most likely be forced to get to work when external negative consequences are looming near. The problem with this is a great reduction in creativity and we’re also more likely to cut corners. We’re much more effective when we’re happy. So for creating a long term solution to help stop procrastination in addition to the aforementioned tools, maybe it’s time to invest some daily energy into creating a more emotionally intelligent, more productive, more Nucleus Accumbens accessible YOU. And a nice side effect just so happens to include increased happiness…
Emotional intelligence starts with awareness then continues with acquiring tools to regulate those emotions and create stillness:
Emotional Awareness – increasing your vocabulary and understanding of how emotions relate to one another is crucial. Robert Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions is a great visual tool to get started. Being able to, at any given moment, identify your emotion is important as well as being able to identify to what degree you’re experiencing that emotion.
Morning Pages – Writing in the morning is an incredibly effective way to catalogue your feelings before attempting any work. Writing should be about what you’re feeling, whether it be petty or profound. What to do? Write 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing by hand in the morning. Here’s more information regarding morning pages.
Meditation – Probably the best way to create stillness, attain emotional clarity, and ultimately regulate emotions is through mindfulness meditation. Once you’ve identified procrastination, it’s probably a good sign you or your employees are experiencing negativity. So try this great breathing meditation for business to regulate that negativity and get back to productivity.
Having troubles finding the clarity for yourself or your employees? Want to crush procrastination? Let’s work on it together in a free session.
What other tools do you use to help overcome procrastination?