Procrastination to Productivity

Superhuman toolkit to deal with the devil of procrastination.

A study in 2019 revealed that almost 88% of a company’s workforce procrastinated for at least an hour. More than 80% of salaried employees and 76% of entrepreneurs procrastinated between 1–4 hours.

We all procrastinate daily, sometimes for hours and sometimes even for days, and it’s very natural for us to do so. What happens after you procrastinate depends on what kind of person you are. Either like a Superhero, you take the responsibility for being a slacker, or you blame the people you are with and the environment you are in.

I highly recommend you to act like a Superhero because that’s what we thinking bats do.

Now again taking responsibility and recognizing your flaws doesn’t make you any better. Some people often pause after this step and fall prey to, what I call, The Cage of Realization.

The cage of realization is a trap where we think that realizing a flaw in your behavior solves the problem. Our mind manipulates us to believe that thinking and realizing we have a problem somehow contributes to solving the problem, it doesn’t.

Well, the realization is good and often the first to overcome your inner demons but again it solves nothing. Taking Actions after Realization is important, and that’s what most people fail to do. You will find them constantly crying over their situation, recognizing their bad habits but not doing anything to overcome it.

Understanding Procrastination

To solve a problem, it’s necessary to understand it.

We think laziness is at the root of procrastination and it’s merely a lack of motivation that makes us procrastinate. But that ain’t the case.

Procrastination is basically your limbic system bullying your pre-frontal cortex.

The limbic system is a set of brain structures containing the pleasure center, while the prefrontal cortex controls planning and decision making. The prefrontal cortex is less developed and thus weaker, so often the limbic system wins out, leading to procrastination.

We have a brain that is selected for preferring immediate reward. Procrastination is the present self saying I would rather feel good now. So we delay engagement even though it’s going to bite us on the butt.

-Dr Tim Pychyl, Author & Psychologist.

One of the most impactful tool to manage time like a metahuman was proposed by Stephen Covey. It is a little diagram that I think holds the key to many questions. It’s called the Eisenhower Matrix:

The more time you spend in the first two quadrants the more productive you will be. I expect the matrix explains itself very well, so I will not be explaining what’s obvious. Now to be more clear Stephen Covey also proposed another matrix called Eisenhower Matrix Actions:

Eisenhower Matrix Actions tell you to take the following actions in the following situations:

  • If it’s an urgent and important task, do it immediately.
  • Ex: Submitting an assignment before the allotted deadline.
  • If it’s an important task but not urgent then create your deadline and stick to it. An example of such a task would be having a tough conversation with someone (breaking up with a toxic partner, proposing someone you have a crush on, firing an employee who isn’t performing well) or it can be some personal changes that you want to bring upon or maybe a new habit.
  • If it’s an urgent task but it’s not important, ask someone else to do it. Don’t do things you consider unimportant. Get someone else to do it. Save your time and spend it on the tasks of Q1 and Q2.
  • The tasks in the fourth quadrant are usually time-sucking vampires. Most of the fun activities fall in this category, so it’d be outright stupid to not doing them. Do them when you’re done with your Q1 tasks to restore your energy.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to decide what to do with the various tasks you have. It creates a nice distinction, which in turn makes it easier to manage those tasks.

The Matrix surely gives you a definite direction but it’s not sufficient to push you forward in those directions. This is where the mental tools come into play that we will discuss in the next week.

Stay Safe and Keep Thinking! Drop your questions, thoughts, or recommendations, if any. I am eager to interact with you.

This blog was originally posted on my website.

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