Use the Thunderbirds to Overcome Procrastination
The presentation is only a few days away and you’re determined to make a good impression. You’ve carefully planned some jealously guarded space, so you’ve got just enough time to build in everything you need. And yet… it’s an hour later and you might as well have done nothing. In fact, you have done nothing. Yet again, despite the urgency, you’re wasting time and desperately trying to overcome procrastination.
More and more often in that busy schedule of meetings, phone calls, emails and never-ending to-do lists you encounter that dreaded problem. Your mind just seizes up and refuses to help out. It’s almost as if there’s a part of you that doesn’t understand the immense pressure you’re under. It just stops and watches your stress-levels build even higher.
The stress joins in the fight and both indecision and brain-fog contrive to make your procrastination even worse. No matter how hard you berate yourself, there doesn’t seem to be any way to overcome procrastination.
Or is there?
Why is it so hard to overcome procrastination
Fortunately, this is where evolution comes to the rescue. Fans of David Eagleman, renowned neuroscientist and TV chap, will already know that our minds are built from multiple overlapping systems all designed to navigate our way through the unpredictability of our lives. Two such systems turn up when we need to get something done.
Broadly speaking, we’ve got the unthinking, automatic reaction just get in and do it before you know you’ve begun version and the slower, more deliberate, let’s consider what the downsides might be before we get into trouble version. Avid readers might remember there’s a plus side to procrastination: check out ‘When the Future-trap Snaps’)
Obviously, these weren’t evolved to help us design presentations or get to the end of our to-do lists. They’re much more about keeping safe, dealing with dangers and finding food and possible mates. I guess it’s hardly surprising they get confused sometimes.
I came across the first version on a few occasions, but my favourite encounter was on holiday in Corfu, minding my own business reading a book by the poolside whilst my young daughters splashed about in the shallow end.
There was a cry and the next thing I knew, I was in mid air diving into the pool, sweeping up underneath my spluttering youngster and hauling her back to the surface. There was a part of me that was still sitting up and putting the book down. I’d just reacted. No thought, no planning, just pure action. That’s the pre-frontal cortex in full flow.
Equally, I’m highly skilled at pondering what the right next move is. I can very easily consider all possible angles, see from both sides, juggle pros & cons to the extent that I can create a valid reason to do anything and its exact opposite. It drives people around me to distraction.
Understanding that our world of spreadsheets, PowerPoints and endless meetings never really trigger our pre-frontals is the key to getting yourself to, quite simply act before you think.
How using Thunderbirds can overcome procrastination
Those of a certain age will remember the Tracy family, strings and all (with the occasional live hand action going on of course). It was better in the non-CGI days but then I’m biased.
Anyway, every program began with “5-4-3-2-1….Thunderbirds are GO!”. It’s actually quite difficult to read those words without hearing the voice and dramatic music.
This is your key to successfully beating procrastination.
Procrastination is about endlessly putting off beginning the next task as your slow system of analysing downsides kicks in and delays you even more in an effort to keep you safe.
So when you want to get started, don’t think. Just play the Thunderbirds are GO! Countdown as loudly as you can in your head. Before it finishes, just start. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just begin. As soon as you’ve begin, get a couple of minutes under you belt and before you know it, there’s some flow to what you’re doing.
Like any skill, this takes a little practice, so don’t expect miracles the first time you try. Just begin. Next time you’ll get further. Soon you’ll find that the act of starting can easily be enough to drive you past the doldrums, creating enough inertia to keep you going.
If you find that you falter, take a short break and call on Thunderbirds once again.
If you’d like to discuss working with me to help deal with procrastination, go to my contact page