Do you know what “procrastination” means? In plain English, this is when you postpone your tasks for no valid reason. You perfectly know you would be better off doing the task, but you postpone it anyway. In 2 words, it means “irrational postponing”.
For example, you can procrastinate on writing an essay. You can procrastinate on studying for an exam. Think about, for example, all the times when you waited until the last possible time to start studying as a student. Office workers are not spared. A common tendency is to procrastinate by checking your emails instead of doing the hard work.
Well, you know what? Everybody procrastinates from time to time. But it’s worth tackling the problem if it’s severely impacting your day-to-day work.
If you are struggling with that, you’re in luck. In a few lines, I’ll speak about a powerful mindset shift that you can use to dissolve procrastination. First, I’ll illustrate it with a personal story. Then you can start using it to get rid of procrastination in a sustainable way.
Let’s dive in…
My obsession with procrastination
In 2007, when I started my French blog on productivity, I was mesmerized by the term “procrastination”. I said to myself: “That’s exactly what ruins my productivity at work!”.
So I became obsessed with it. I wrote articles about it. I taught the meaning of the term “procrastination” to my family. And I soon became known as “Mr procrastination”.
My procrastination book project
At some point, I was so immersed in it that I told to myself: “Why not write a book about procrastination?”. I heard somewhere that I needed to do pre-sales in order to gauge the interest in a book. So I created a Kickstarter campaign about it.
To say the least, it was not met with a lot of enthusiasm. In fact, I had to make a lot of noise in my social circle to get funds. Surely enough, I finally met the financial target I had set. But this felt artificial. And this apparent victory would quickly turn into a sour experience.
Procrastinating on writing a procrastination book
The problem with a book on procrastination is that “procrastination” is a horrible word. It is rough to say in your mind. And it has a lot of guilt associated with it. It says you have no willpower. In one word, it reminds you that you are a “failure” for not following through on your tasks.
So after my brain was soaked in procrastination kingdom, it really affected my psyche. After working a couple of months on the book chapters, I actually procrastinated on my writing. Yes, I procrastinated on writing a book on procrastination! Do you see the irony? In the end, I gave up on it.
Don’t think about a rose elephant
This was to be expected. When you are obsessed with procrastination, you start to see it everywhere including yourself, and you feel guilty about it. And it’s like a vicious circle. The more you dig in, the more you get depressed by it.
It’s like the famous expression: “Don’t think about a rose elephant”. It is impossible to not think about something that you mention, as it first needs to get into your brain. That’s why young children often don’t understand negation. That’s also why you would never label a diet against obesity as an “Anti-Obese diet”. It’s just too demoralizing.
Improving focus rather than overcoming procrastination
So how did I fix my procrastination problems without using the term procrastination? Simple: I replaced it with its opposite term. For me, the opposite of procrastination is “flow”. That is: being completely absorbed in your task.
Flow is the epitome of focus. When you are in flow, you do the right thing, you know you are doing the right thing and you feel happy about it. What a comforting word! As soon as I discovered this, I became passionate about focus, concentration, and the science of attention.
Thanks to this simple mindset shift, I made great progress in my productivity.
I also started to work on a training program on the subject of concentration. And this time, I finished the project! For information, it is still in French right now, but if there’s demand for it, I will translate it into English for you.
Procrastination is a very popular term to describe how we postpone tasks although we know we will end up worse about it. However, the term “procrastination” sounds demoralizing when you obsess about it.
That’s why instead of speaking in terms of “anti-procrastination strategies”, I prefer to speak about “focus” strategies and how to get into the flow state.
Just try this simple mindset shift: speak about “focus” and “flow” instead of procrastination. You will feel much better working on improving your focus rather than feeling guilty about your procrastination. And this will encourage you to tackle this problem in a positive way.