Without a boss hovering over your shoulder, it’s easy to procrastinate. However, despite what you may think, your problem has less to do with time management and laziness and more to do with emotional regulation. You simply need to get your Sitzfleisch on.
Sitzfleisch is the German concept of working at tedious challenges long enough to reach the tipping point and cruise to the finish line. Productivity comes through perseverance.
Procrastination (or the lack of it) relates to anxiety towards the task at hand.
In an article for Psychology Today, Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D. explains that:
"When we face negative emotions like frustration, resentment, boredom, or anxiety that are associated with a task, we procrastinate on the task in order to regulate our emotions."
Don't put off reading this...
There’s good news—you are in control. After a lengthy study, German scientists declared, “The ability to modify aversive emotions (‘emotional regulation’) reduced subsequent procrastination.”
Essentially, emotion-focused strategies decrease procrastination. If you target controlling your aversive emotions, you will stop procrastinating. That’s the first step in making sh*t happen.
The challenge is getting around to step one. Oh, the irony.
Ok, how do I begin?
1) Change your mindset. See tasks as challenges, not threats. When you set off to accomplish something hard, see it as an opportunity to overcome adversity and turn your stress into invigoration.
2) Be honest. Ask yourself why you’re putting it off. Your answer is likely valid but it’s also bullshit. You’ve got it in you. Move on.
3) Be gentle with yourself. Rewiring your brain takes time. Go easy. Action bias, remember?
🥳 Get Your Hopes Up
Actively anticipating positive events is scientifically proven to improve mental health and overall well-being. If you’re in a motivation slump, focus on the feeling you’ll have when you finish this project.
Think about it.
Several Chinese psychologists set out to see if merely anticipating a positive situation—not experiencing it—could influence well-being.
They wondered if prospective happiness would produce similar neural circuits to those that appear when people experience joy and happiness in real time.
Forty participants sat down to focus on an upcoming positive event and MRI scans exposed the brain region associated with well-being lighting up.
You can kick-start a new project by harnessing the power of anticipation to boost your mental state.
Whatever you choose, dwell on what’s to come. It will literally change your mind.
🤫 The Sound of Silence
Have you heard? It's a noisy world out there. People are beginning to crave silence. Noise-free airports are on the rise. Meditation apps are big business.
And now the troubling ramifications of non-stop noise are deafening too.
Research proves silence is more than a hot commodity. Our cognitive health depends on it.
A Duke University biologist set out to measure sound’s effects on adult mice’s cognitive function.
She used differed types of audio stimuli, juxtaposed her findings with silence, and monitored the rodents’ brains.
Her experiment didn’t go as planned. She made an unexpected discovery.
Mice exposed to two hours of silence per day developed new cells in the hippocampus, the brain region associated with memory, emotion and learning.
Other research backs that noise harms cognitive function at work and school. Excessive noise is linked to decreased motivation and poor performance.
Attention, memory and problem solving also take a hit when our ears are battling auditory assault.
Keep it down
Their findings are gold for the self-employed. You have a real advantage over those stuck in noisy offices everyday.
Just don’t ruin it by blasting tunes all day.
Try and keep at least a couple of hours to silent working. Your hippocampus will thank you.
Eckert, M.,, Ebert, D.D., Lehr, D., & Berking, M. (2016). Overcome procrastination: Enhancing emotion regulation skills reduce procrastination. Learning and Individual Differences, 52,10-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2016.10.001
Luo Y, Chen X, Qi S, You X, Huang X. Well-being and Anticipation for Future Positive Events: Evidences from an fMRI Study. Front Psychol. 2018;8:2199. Published 2018 Jan 9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02199
Kirste I, Nicola Z, Kronenberg G, Walker TL, Liu RC, Kempermann G. Is silence golden? Effects of auditory stimuli and their absence on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Brain Struct Funct. 2013;220(2):1221-8.