Saturday, July 11, 2015

Frontload your heavy lifting

Maisel’s research on anxiety identifies a phenomenon called prethinking activity, which includes researching, brainstorming, making lists, interviewing, organizing, going to workshops and the like. 

These activities, while enjoyable and meaningful, shouldn’t be our primary focus. They may serve our thinking needs, but they may also be dodges that we use to avoid our actual thinking tasks and their attendant anxieties. 

We think we’re being useful, but in reality we’re just maintaining our identity. Soothing ourselves. Preserving the illusion of productivity. 

I have a client whose business requires three main areas of creative activity. However, only one of those activities comes naturally to him. And so, he’ll use that activity to procrastinate doing the other two. Because it doesn’t feel like work. It’s the low hanging fruit. And the excuse he uses to justify his procrastination is that he’s being productive. 

Which is technically true. But anybody can be productive doing something that doesn’t feel like work. But what good is being productive with an activity that comes easy to you if you’re just using it to avoid doing the harder work? 

That’s just resistance tricking you into thinking that your prethinking efforts are the most important. They’re not. 

The key is to remember what your fifth grade teacher used to tell you. Do the hard problems first. Frontload your heavy lifting. Use that work to boost your confidence, build momentum and create a cascading effect on other issues that may get resolved on their own. Then you can do all the prethinking you want. Because you will have earned it.

What excuses do you use to justify your procrastination?

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Scott Ginsberg
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