Procrastination is one of the greatest enemies of creativity. There’s an inherent paradox in procrastination – when we habitually procrastinate, we can often use more of our energy than it would take to simply do the work. And yet, even some of the most successful creatives struggle with procrastination.
In order to thrive in the digital age, creative professionals, as well as entrepreneurs and managers, must be able to work independently. Fortunately, we can all cultivate our inner self-motivated self-starters when we learn tools and techniques for conquering procrastination. When we learn to “get in the flow,” we can overcome our own procrastinator tendencies and bring our best, most inspired thinking to the fore.
Supplement Your Will Power
“If you imagine that motivation is like the fuel that gets you to your outcome, some fuels are very good, but others are lower quality,” says sports psychologist Ian Taylor. The sheer force of will can sometimes get you to the finish line, but in order to score consistent wins and improve your habits, you may need higher-octane support.
Visualize Positive Outcomes
When it comes to transcending these counterproductive tendencies, a winning mindset is key. In practice, this can take the form of imagining, in detail, the way your experience will change when you’ve completed the tasks in front of you. If the stress and guilt of procrastination only makes things worse, try giving yourself some positive motivation, and use your imaginative abilities to make your sense of impending reward as clear and vivid as you can.
To make things easier on yourself, eliminate any obvious impediments and distractions to doing your work. You can set aside less pressing obligations to deal with later. You can shut off phone notifications, or even try a full digital detox. You can find new collaboration tools or project management software that plays to your strengths. When you start by creating the right environment to encourage your most inspired deep work, you can beat procrastination before it starts.
You can always look forward to the relief of completing your work and the satisfaction of achieving your goals. Research indicates that immediate short-term rewards can be more powerful motivators. If you need some help staying on track, try taking periodic breaks, or find imaginative ways to make your process more pleasant as you go.
Keep It Positive
To stay motivated, focus on the benefits of following through on your work, the rewards of a job well done, the interest and passion that motivated you to undertake this work in the first place. Override your brain’s negativity bias, and you’ll find that procrastination is nothing to fear, just another challenge you can overcome with mindful behavior and an empowered mindset.
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