Do you procrastinate? Is your mind filled with fascinating and more interesting things to do than the work that is in front of you? Many highly sensitive people have quite active and deep minds that can become lost in reflection, absorption, or shut down by overstimulation. Drifting off into reflection may be interesting but it does not get the job done. Similarly with the enjoyment of taking in preferable stimulation; the internet has made it too easy to browse from thing to thing rather mindlessly and take time away from goals we need to achieve for ourselves.
The following article offers a few tips on how to beat procrastination that HSPs can benefit from. We have a profound ability to focus quite intently on a task when we actually engage with it but, like anyone else, we may also fall prey to distractions (there are so many today with technology) and our own inherent nature to think short-term instead of long-term gain.
It’s entirely true that it is difficult to tackle large projects that may take months to complete (let alone years-long projects). For example, most of you know I have written two books with the intention of writing a third and fourth. What you do not know is how difficult it can be to focus to the degree one needs to in order to write anything sensible (far tougher than it looks). In times past, setting up a structure has worked well and I’ve been able to power through the writing and editing. After the first two books were published, however, perhaps the immediacy felt different; as if there were not such a rush. It can be great to not feel as if we are rushed but it can also breed complacency and, you got it, procrastination as so many other (seemingly more interesting) things compete for my attention. The answer?
The tips in the article mention ways to change our perception of the short-term cost so we instead focus on the benefit in accomplishing the task. I have tried breaking up much larger tasks into much smaller pieces, and that does help, but the best result likely comes from combining several of these tips together to change our perception of how much we need to invest now to enjoy a much larger reward later. Depending on whether the nature of the task is speculative (we are doing it in anticipation of a potential reward versus a definite reward) we may find it harder to make that short-term investment. The point to keep in mind if you are actively creating work based on potential future rewards is creativity should breed many good ideas that are speculative to some degree, but sometimes having already explored a topic may come in handy down the road when what we have learned as a result of said work becomes immediately relevant. So speculative knowledge that prefigures future needs may be the name of the game for some who think ahead, or in divergent ways.
I have to add in one more tip to beat procrastination: enlist the synergy that often exists when we are inspired by others! We cannot discount the value in working on a project with other people because we may be often literally propelled by the energy and belief of others. Even the deep introvert who prefers to scribble alone in a writing nook needs someone to eventually read what she has written or created. Similarly, sometimes it may help to break procrastination by leaving our familiar surroundings and finding inspiration in the outside world. Perhaps a library has a great space that’s quiet yet offers great views and a relaxed, academic atmosphere or a coffee shop is just right for you to set up your laptop and type out a page or two as you note others seem to be doing the same. Or you might frequent a co-working space where other home-based workers come to leave their homes. Often, our home environments fail to provide us with a distinct feeling that real work can be done there.
Building on the idea of ritual for separating one activity or block of time from another, it may be very helpful to leave the house on certain days or for a certain number of hours per day and spend that time in a co-working space. We have such a space near where I live in Springfield, Missouri where a small fee allows one to spend the day among other independent workers in a pleasant office setup. The feeling of communion, of shared purpose can be undeniably valuable to lifting the spirits and providing inspiration. There is also the potential for collaboration if you strike up a conversation in the adjacent coffee shop or simply by chit-chatting with your neighbor (providing the neighbor is not head-down focused).
However you choose to apply these tips, beating procrastination will help you accomplish your goals while perhaps retraining your brain to find the willingness to invest in short-term efforts for long-term benefits.
Please feel free to share!
Thrill: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career
Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person