Procrastination and Mindfulness

Weekends are an interesting time for many go-getters. You have a sense of freedom and space, but the freedom won’t last forever. So, one needs to get going in order to get some goals accomplished.

What Do We Know?

In an effort to ensure that I am not procrastinating on the weekend, I turn to Sam Harris to see if he has any tips about procrastination. In the Making Sense by Sam Harris podcast : Ask Me Anything #15 (53:40), the question was asked: “Have you ever struggled with procrastination?” “Do you think mindfulness can be utilized…?”

The answer to at least one of the questions is “Yes!” As Sam shares “[mindfulness] is just increased awareness of what is actually arising in your mind.” By increasing your awareness of what is happening in your mind, you can figure out what you are rejecting and what you truly want. (If you want the great scheduling tip and “writing a novel” example he gives and are not a Sam Harris subscriber yet, I recommend subscribing and then listening to the podcast episode.)

Once you know what is troubling you and the emotions around it, you can make some logical choices. As Sam and others have shared, procrastination is the logical outcome of being afraid of failing. In short, you feel fear.

Since you are not guaranteed to finish and succeed, a person will naturally put off that potential pain of failing by not starting. Get started even though you’re highly concerned (scared) and uncertain. So, how does one tear down the wall that is blocking you from getting started at all?

How To Conquer Fear and Uncertainty?

Throwing yourself into a project can greatly help with fear. Pragmatic tips around tackling projects or problems include breaking down a big project into small manageable chunks. Tackle that small chunk and see what happens to the fear.

On the subject of fear, it’s okay to recognize the fear. Once that is done, don’t feed the fear. Just accept fear for what it is. An example of feeding the fear is telling yourself a story about all the things that might or might not happen.

If left unfed, fear is just a naturally occurring phenomena that will eventually pass like anything else in the world. It bears repeating that this is only true if you don’t feed the fear!

If you are having trouble with dealing with the uncertainly, I recommend practicing the Don’t Know meditation practice taught by Jeff Warren. There’s a Don’t Know audio recording on his website and a YouTube
video of him guiding others through the practice. The YouTube video is titled The Do Nothing Project with Jeff Warren February 25, 2019.
Here’s the video:

Summing Up

Fear and uncertainty are often the cause of procrastination. Be the hero you are meant to be. Look fear in the eye. Deal with the uncertainty and just get started. May your journey forward go well.

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