This is part of the Multi-Focus Maverick Series, a series about how to split up your time effectively so that you can focus on many things and still make progress on your goals.
I woke up this morning with one mission in mind: Today I’m working on my script.
I’m feeling pumped.
Lets do this.
I sit down at my desk…
Suddenly, the last thing I want to do is work on my script.
In this moment, all of my other projects seem a million times more enticing. Writing my book? Blogging? Building that Portland Clue tournament website? Tweaking the design of my sidebar? Answering emails? (Yes, even answering emails sounds like a blast right now).
Has This Happened to You?
The instant you make the decision to work on a project, your body screams NO- Anything but! It doesn’t matter how much fun the project seemed yesterday (or even five minutes ago). Once it’s time to get started, the resistance monster stomps right down on top of you.
It happens instantly, like a reflex. “I’m going to work on THIS project!” you declare. BAM! Sorry buddy, any other project is fine. But THIS project? Nope, if you try to work on this project, I grant you PAIN. MASSIVE, MASSIVE PAIN.
Dealing with Resistance
Resistance never disappears. What you need to do is trick resistance into leaving you alone for a while– for just enough time to get your work done.
There are many ways to trick resistance. Sometimes brute force/plowing ahead in pain will get it to subside. Sometimes addressing a root fear behind the resistance solves the problem. Other times taking a break is the answer. Setting small goals and going nuts for five minutes is another option.
But for me, today, nothing is working.
Tricking Your Resistance by Using that Resistance
You’re a multipotentialite, right? This means that you probably have a bunch of projects on the go. It also means that, unlike the unfortunate specialists who are cursed with only one love, you have other options. Really good options.
See, your version of procrastination isn’t (just) cleaning the apartment and watching 30 Rock DVDs. It’s also long term projects, new curiosities and various passion-fueled endeavors. Talk about a perk of being a scanner! There is some incredibly meaningful work you could be doing in the name of “procrastination”.
What if, instead of tricking resistance into leaving you alone to work on your “declared” project, you use your need to procrastinate as a way to make progress on something else?
The Beauty of Productive Procrastination
Can you guess what I’m doing now? Am I working on my script, like I had declared I would upon rising this morning? Nope. I’m writing a blog post- my “assigned task”, not for today, but for tomorrow.
And do you know why I’m able to write this post right now? It’s because writing this post is something I shouldn’t be doing. I’m being bad. I’m not meeting goal for the day. Bad Emilie!
Except that I am doing important work… I needed to write a post eventually anyway. And if I had simply waited till tomorrow to write this post like I had originally planned, I guarantee you that tomorrow I’d be completely unable to write it. Interesting, right? It’s always a million times easier to do the things you shouldn’t be doing.
If you can frame work in your mind as “procrastination”, it’s much easier to do.
Apply this Trick for Yourself
The next time you have many projects on the go (i.e. any given day) pick one of them and make your day all about that project. Set a deadline. Announce to someone that you’ll be working reeeeally hard on this particular project.
If you manage to work on that project, that’s awesome! You win.
But if you can’t… If the resistance hits and the work just isn’t happening, be naughty. “Procrastinate” by working on one of your other projects. Tell yourself that you really shouldn’t be doing this right now… It’s bad, oh so bad, what you’re doing…
Update: the day after I wrote this, I woke up and pumped out my script outline in about 40 minutes. And since this post (my original project for the day) was already written, I took the day off, hung out with my awesome aunt and then built a meetup site for my Clue league. I feel like a productivity superhero!