To answer this question we’re going to go on a journey from daydreaming about Mercedes, to a 2010 edition of ‘Science’ Journal then through Mark Twain to frogs!
Are you ready?
It all started when I was sitting around one morning thinking:
“uh… I really need to prepare some content for my webinar, But I don’t feel like it. Hmmm… I wonder what I can do to feel like it? Maybe I should go to mall and walk around a bit and look at stuff to get some inspiration. Or maybe I should go to the Mercedes Garage to have a look at AMGs to get excited about getting myself a new car? How can I get myself to feel like it”
But then I realised…
I actually just need to get up and do the work
I can’t be looking for ways to get myself excited to actually get things done. I just need to get it done.
I really should coach myself more often ;-)
In the same way that I tell people looking to start a business they can’t wait at home for inspiration to strike, we need to actually work out their business idea.
Otherwise if we wait to get into a certain state, which may never even happen, at best it’s going to take too long to get where we want to be and at worst it’ll never happen at all.
Can you relate to this?
How often do you find yourself avoiding doing the work itself in an attempt to find the inspiration or motivation you need to do the work?
Sometimes we really just need to sit down and get it done to make the progress we really want.
So instead of fussing around at the mall or the Mercedes dealer wasting more time, I got up, figured out what I was doing, prepared all the stuff and started!
I was about a 5th of the way through before I sat back and realised ‘ok great, I know what I’m doing now, I’ve gotten into it, I don’t need to get inspiration to ‘get started’.
Then I took a break and went back to it afterwards without all the unnecessary resistance.
Find the inspiration in the work rather than look for it externally
Really this is all about focus and flow. Even though it may not sound like it, and at the start it certainly doesn’t feel like it!
Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert created an app to research the happiness of individuals during various activities at various intervals throughout the day. In the results from their research (published in 2010) one finding was particularly clear throughout:
‘…a wandering mind is an unhappy mind’.
This I can completely relate to. It might seem like a leap, but in that situation of not living in the moment and not getting done what I needed to get done, I wasn’t happy. I was fidgety and irritable and stressed. I was trying to find ways to get rid of this feeling, trying to find motivation, ‘maybe if I think about the future’, all in the name of ‘looking for inspiration’ but this was the wrong place to look.
“Searching or waiting for inspiration can really sometimes just be another form of procrastination.”
When the best thing to do is focus, concentrate on the task at hand, and within no time you’ll find your flow with it, the inspiration and motivation come from the task.
This is also referred to as ‘eating the frog’, which is a fun way to remember the concept. The saying is often attributed to Mark Twain “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
If you want the outcome then you need to come up with inspiration to eat the frog. Without looking for it externally
Practical methods for overcoming ‘inspiration’ procrastination:
First of all, cut out all the distractions around you, shut down social, put your phone on silent, get that task you have to do and put a timer on for 45 minutes. Just 45 minutes.
Then get to it!
Do only that task for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up stretch, move away from your computer, look into the distance, get a cup of tea, and see where you’re up to. You might be surprised!
If you need to, do another 45 minute focus session. Until you’ve finished what it is you needed to get done.
I know people who do this and end up so much flow they ignore the timer and just keep going. Though really I do think it’s important to take the breaks as well, to maintain a positive and energised mindset in relation to the task and your work space. Sitting in the same attitude for too long will wear you out and you’ll end up resenting your work and resorting to procrastination again.
How many frogs have you eaten lately?
How did you do it?
Did you try the 45 minute/break method?
What works for you?
I’d really love to hear about your experiences of overcoming ‘inspiration’ procrastination and finding your inspiration in the task instead – share your stories in the comments below!