For most people, the word “procrastination” is like this totally loaded term.
It’s a scapegoat. Truth is, when you’re truly procrastinating, you don’t realize that you’re doing it.
Procrastination is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
When revealed, it loses all of its power— the element of surprise.
“I don’t have enough time time”
“I’m too busy to do this right now”
“I need to research it first”
“I need to make a Facebook page to start my business”
That’s true procrastination.
When you can clearly identify that you didn’t make any progress, well that’s not procrastination. It’s a totally different animal entirely.
Procrastination makes you feel like you’re making progress. Sitting around wasting time isn’t procrastination.
My favorite book, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, identifies this so clearly, so lucidly, it’s nearly impossible to do it justice.
(I love this book so much that I order 20 copies every year to give away. I read it once every few months, but I should read it every week.)
Resistance is the invisible hand that’s holding you back
Resistance stops you from doing your best work. Resistance is that feeling in the pit of your gut when it’s finally time to do the hard work and you’d rather do anything else.
Procrastination is just one of the tools in his toolkit.
If there’s an antidote that can beat resistance, it’s focus. Focus is that mental state when you’re deep in the thick of it, when you’re finally doing that hard work.
For most, focus happens on accident. Resistance takes the day off and you can finally start doing your life’s work. But resistance will be back tomorrow.
But with the right recipe, anyone can remain hyperfocused. What if I told you that it’s possible to give resistance a huge wallop in the ass and find focus everyday. But Resistance is a persistent son-of-a-bitch— he’ll be back again tomorrow.
By the way, most people that drink cup after cup of coffee or take pop handfuls of adderall or modafinil— what they’re really chasing is focus.. using stimulants to beat down resistance.
Here’s how I do it
Like everyone else, I create a daily todo list. Part of my morning routine is the plan my entire day and spend one minute visualizing myself doing it.
Once I know what I want to do, e.g “Write blog post”, “Design my new website”, I write down in very non-ambigous terms what the success criteria is for these tasks.
So, if I was writing the success criteria for “write blog post”, I’d put down something like…
The trick is to very explicitly define exactly what success looks like. Make it very clear. Only write 450 words? Didn’t publish it? Nope— it’s not done.
So why does it this work? Because Resistance LOVES ambiguity.
Resistance is like the scary shadow on your bedroom wall.
When it’s dark and you can’t clearly see, your imagination runs wild. It fills in the blanks and assumes the worst. It’s only when you turn on the lights that you can see the truth.
P.S— You can read about my “Upgraded Todolist” in this blog post from a few months ago.