Alright, one more and then I’ll shut up about this…
I just want to address a few more important points that have popped into my head while talking to friends and acquaintances since my last post on procrastination and motivation
The I-Don’t-Care Attitude
Some people tell me: “Why should I bother working harder, forcing myself to do more, if I don’t care? I’m laid back. I’m happy. I’m not procrastinating, this is just my life-style.”
And that’s fine and great. As long as you are really happy.
But if, for example, you’re an aspiring author, and you actually want to write and get published, you have to wake up and realise that this life-style does not work with your chosen profession. Because you will never get anything done. You will never finish anything. If you think otherwise you are living in a dream. Novels don’t get written in those short hours where you “feel creative” and “feel like writing”. Writing a novel is hard work.
Also, be careful about using the chilled, I-Don’t-Care Attitude as an excuse. If you have the goal – again this is just an example – to draw an amazing comic book and sell it online, then, technically, you cannot be fully content until you have reached that goal. So … when you say you’re cool and happy just be sure that’s really true. One of the worst things you can do is to lie to yourself.
Doing Things that Make Us Feel Miserable – The Paradox
So you’ve got your rhythm down, your days are productive, you feel positive and great. You can hardly believe how much work you’re suddenly getting done. And then, two days later, you decide to just “take a little break”. You turn on the TV, intending to watch one episode of your favourite series. You end up watching five. And then it’s too late to start anything productive anyway, so you just go on Facebook to chat. And then it’s late enough to sleep, which you do, feeling a little lost.
And then you wake up. Feeling like shit.
Your whole rhythm has been shattered. You feel guilty because you let yourself down. You committed to something and then you failed. The resulting feeling can really pull you under the surface … (I’ve been there!). What now? It’s easy to stay in bed and forget about it by watching some YouTube. It’s hard to pull yourself together again and find the motivation to start once more. And if you go through this process several times it will become harder and harder.
Suddenly your favourite TV program is one of the sources of your misery. Facebook and YouTube, as well. If they weren’t there, all would have been fine.
Nope. Not right. The only problem is you. You are responsible for your actions.
Getting rid of TV and the Internet isn’t going to change much. You’re still going to find other ways to destroy your rhythm.
Listen to Yourself – Be Smart
They say that our body tells us what it needs, if only we listen to it. Perhaps an abstract idea for some people, but it’s true. In the above example, the body is telling you one simple thing: your rhythm is wrong, it’s too harsh, too demanding. It’s telling you that it cannot cope with it. You had great intentions, but it’s not working.
No, you do not need to punish yourself and build up an insane amount of will power so that you can get up at 7am and go to bed at 23pm every day, using each hour as efficiently as you can. We are not machines.
In fact, however, the adjustments you have to make are relatively straightfoward! All you need to do, is to incorporate FREE TIME into your schedule. Allow yourself some breathing space. Plan your day in a way where you can do each task relaxed, without any stress. But be wary not to waste time needlessly either. If your schedule isn’t bursting and you have some space for breaks between each task, then your body will not revolt and shut itself down after three days.
Be efficient. But take it easy. And allow yourself one day off completely every week, if you can. If not, at least half a day.
Sometimes, just do nothing. That’s an activity, too. (Doing nothing does not = going on Facebook. Doing nothing = literally doing nothing.)
The result is that you will feel much better generally.
You don’t have to feel guilty because going out with your friends on Friday evening was part of the plan anyway. You don’t have to feel ashamed of yourself because you’re not failing any more.
When you feel relaxed and happy like this, you will be able to deal with stress more easily, and you will be able to complete tasks much faster. Just set aside a span of time that you feel is reasonable every day where you do nothing, where you waste time, where you just do what you want. But stay focused during the rest of the day – without exaggerating it and expecting too much of yourself. Be demanding, but don’t kill yourself! Set high goals, but make them realistic.
It sounds easy and simple, but it’s actually not. It takes some fine-tuning to reach a good balance, and you’ll probably stumble a few times before you attain it. The most important thing is to push yourself hard to the point where you are happy with yourself, but not beyond that, for then you’ll tip the scales and you’ll be tumbling down a cliff of stress, guilt and misery.
However, if you can’t stay focused when you should be, and you’re jumping around between Facebook and essay-writing, then, yea, you gotta train your will power. Remember: it’s just like training a muscle. You get stronger the more you resist.
Have a lovely week.
Photo credits: the instagrammers @samanthamariew, @cupcake7777, @sarra21