Updated: Feb 18, 2018
I am very skilled at the art of procrastination. If there was an Olympic contest, I would win Gold. I have idea after idea flowing through my brain, and I will act on just a few of them. And the ones that I do act on, I will complete maybe (and I really mean maybe) just one. I lived that way for a while. But then I learned something that helped break me out of the unproductive cycle. Metacognition is a powerful tool.
As I was sitting discouraged by yet another failed attempt at being productive, I started literally thinking about my thinking and came to realize that; often times I'm solely driven by the moment of spark. The moment that I have the idea, or the moment that i'm inspired. That moment gets me excited and I hit the ground running. But if all I am relying on is that one moment; It's no wonder I rarely finish. The moment doesn't come equipped with enough fuel to get me through getting through. It's never just one moment, It is every moment and decision after. You must be intentional. You must find and remember a driving factor at every step. It is never just one moment.
Being productive means being proactive. Your work, your dream, your goal, shouldn't be something that happens to you. Once you've responded to THE moment (of influence) you then have to proactively create the moments thereafter. That means that right after the "AHA!" comes, let me do my research, let me see how much this will take, let me time this out, let me commit. In the words of Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock "It takes Two to make a Thing Go Right", and that is the moment of impact and your proactive response. So the next time you get inspired to do, create, effect, change, break, show... grab that moment and happen to it. And keep happening to it until you've conquered.
Lighting up the woods, one Syllable at a time
The teacher in me has to add:
Some Practical Proactive Skills I've learned thus far?
1-Having a planner: Having a planner (or some kind of calendar/agenda/lists) is important because it implements a certain level of foresight into you everyday life. You are able to see what you have going on, how much you have going on, and when it is going on. This helps reduce the risk of double booking, and forgetting. It also helps with prioritizing. Remember always that failing to plan is planning to fail.
2- Use Spare Time Wisely: It is very easy to squander "spare time" (especially without a planner). There is nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying a moment of rest;however, many times we could have done a task or two with that same time frame but rather choose to postpone it. What happens when you put things off till later is they wind up coming back to crash into the time we need to fulfill other tasks. Inevitably you end up completing things late, producing lackluster work due to speeding up to make up for lost time, and/or loosing sleep to make up the work.
3- Unplug: Unless electronics are crucial to the work that you are doing, turn them off or put them farther than an arms length away. Limiting the amount of distractions in our midst when trying to get work done is crucial to our productivity, and social media and electronics in these times are the greatest forms of distractions. Unplug to Zone In.
4- Be Realistic: Ambition is a beautiful thing, but unless coupled with a level of realism, ambition can prove detrimental. If you have never read a whole book in an hour, please do not be ambitious enough to attempt the night the book report is due. Those kind of ambitions are reserved for actual spare time. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and be honest with yourselves. This helps to not over book, over stress, and burn out. Burn outs are the death to all productivity. Be realistic enough to know that you need the whole week to get something done, even if your friend says they can do it in three days. Play to your strengths.
5- Take Breaks: As I mentioned before burnouts are the death to all productivity. Research has shown that taking brain breaks in the middle of lengthy work has proven to enhance productivity. Now this is not the same as squandering spare time. This is, in the midst of getting work done, taking 5 minutes to let your brain relax and rejuvenate.
6- Implement Accountability: This can be people, things, systems, or combination of the three. Tell people your plans who will help encourage you to complete your tasks. Set reminders. My favorite method is telling your self things are due 24-48hrs before they are actually due. What this does is not only allow you to be able to get things done ahead of time, but also makes room for you to deal with the things in life that we cannot foresee and plan for.
Bonus 7- Pray! Honest to goodness. Prayer works. I am a firm believer that God honors effort. There have been times where I've looked at my planner and though "oh boy I don't know how I'm gonna get through all of this", and then I simply pray "God please help me get through this. Whether it be extensions, extra energy, helping hands, I just need help to get everything done" and boy I tell you it has helped me maximize my productivity time and time again.
These are just a few things that can help you to combat procrastination and in-productivity. Hope this helped, encouraged, made you think, or a the very least was a good read. If you have comments or anything to add to the list I welcome them all :-)