Tag Archives: prograstination

4 ways to work with the elephant, overcoming procrastination

22 Jan
Hard work often pays after time,
But laziness always pays off now.

Your subconscious is stronger than the conscious – if you fight it, you lose! A love the metaphor of ‘The Executive and the Elephant’ provided by Professor Dick Daft. According to him, our conscious mind is the Executive, the thoughtful and insightful guide of our life. Our subconscious is the Elephant, lazy but powerful animal that prefers comfort and safety. When those 2 sides of you are in odds, very often you end up doing the unimportant and easy things, and postponing the important things – procrastinating.

My Executive knows in every moment what kind of action would be in line with my ‘perfect life’ (Japanese studies before breakfast, presentation preparation at work, exercise after coming home), while my Elephant is looking instead for instant enjoyments (sleeping a bit later, reading mundane mails & news, having a glass of wine instead of sports after coming home). The challenge for my Executive is to guide the Elephant to work together on the higher importance things that need the additional effort.

My 4 personal favourite techniques to work with my subconscious are following:

  • Make agreements with myself: Every morning after my meditation I write down 1-2 focus areas for the day. The act of writing down clarifies the focus, and acts as a promise to myself. By doing this early in the morning, my Elephant gets enough time for accept and prepare for the tasks in hand.
  • Speak with my subconscious: Bit before starting with the task, I gently speak with my subconscious. I explain briefly what I want to do, and why I want to do it, and ask for assistance. This usually results into a feeling of inner peace, when the Executive and the Elephant align towards a common objective.
  • Start from my body position: Even if I wouldn’t feel like starting my task yet, I go to the place where I’m supposed to perform, and get to the readiness position. This could mean sitting on my desk, and taking a pen & notebook into my hands. Or going into my tatami-room and taking the push-up position. By taking the physical readiness my mind usually follows, and I can get started.
  • Take the first mini-step: If I still feel resistance, I agree with my Elephant to do just a small part of the task. It could be just defining the objectives of the presentation, or just doing 5 push-ups. But usually after I started, I get into the flow of doing the thing. Before I notice, that first draft of the presentation is finalized, or that I have done my full exercise program.

At times though, I let my elephant to take over. Instant enjoyment tastes also good!

How about you? How do you overcome procrastination? What are your best methods for working with yourself?