Procrastination impacts our lives like an avalanche. We wait, put off, distract ourselves with other things. Then a pile of rubbish comes landing on our heads and we end up with a mess far greater than the delayed activity that caused it.
It has been six years since The Power of Slow hit the shelves, but the principles that live within it still apply today. One of my favorite principles stems from the Procrastination Station chapter, in which I talk about designing pockets of win to keep you motivated when you’d rather be doing something else.
We all put off unpleasant tasks; I don’t know a single person who derives pleasure from plowing through crappy assignments. Most of us moan about the things we have to do that we’d rather not be doing at all: getting up earlier than our bodies prefer; writing those month-end reports that seem endless, repetitive and, in some ways, frivolous; following up — yet again — with someone who chooses to ignore his original promise. And yet we persevere, knowing the alternative is paralysis.
Procrastination adds to the dilemma as we draw out feeling bad about those necessary things in life; and then “those things” loom even larger in our already overtaxed minds. Creating a pocket of win can pull us out of our funk and into the light.
Creating a pocket of win is simple. It is a reward system that causes us to feel better about ourselves — and the world around us. eBay is one of my favorite places to create a space of “yes” for myself. Recently, my son and I cleared out his shelves and placed his beloved comic books on eBay so that he could a) have more space for new books and b) earn a little cash along the way. I find myself checking in on the auctions whenever I start to feel a little blue. It perks me right up to see people’s interest. It then motivates me to continue on, even when I don’t want to.
Then magically those reports get done, the quality of sleep improves and well, those people we chase for answers? Sometimes they surprise us too.