Now that exams are over, I am once again faced with a whole summer in which there is nothing I actually need to do. Already this has been causing a restless, nagging feeling in the back of my mind – a desire to do something big. Something to be proud of.
So I come up with a list of things I want to achieve, tell myself that I’m going to work on at least one of them over the next few days, and when the day comes… I do absolutely nothing.
What’s the issue here? It seems to boil down to the honest fact that:
“I just don’t feel like it”
This mindset is a dangerous one, and it alters my life in several ways, including:
- Staying in bed all morning rather than waking up early
- Eating unhealthy, sugary foods instead of healthy ones
- Sitting in front of my laptop all day instead of being active and exercising
- Watching pointless YouTube videos instead of doing something productive
When you don’t have anything stopping you from doing these things, they can very easily become habits, and even though we know these things are bad for us, we still end up falling into a vicious cycle.
Breaking the cycle
It is small, base-level desires which often distract us from our work – sleep, food, internet browsing – so we have to find a way to ignore these desires, especially with the knowledge that giving into them always leaves us worse off.
If you find yourself procrastinating in any of these ways, ask yourself the simple question:
“What am I resisting right now?”
You’ll soon realise that you ended up staying in bed all morning/browsing Reddit/watching YouTube videos because there was some big task you’d been meaning to complete, that, if you put in the work to complete it, would be much more fulfilling.
We create these big, impressive goals in our head that we know will look amazing once they’ve been completed, but the journey you take to get there does not look so pretty in comparison.
Dreaming about what we want to achieve is fun, and the act of just visualising the end goal makes you feel like you’ve achieved something, even though you’ve done absolutely nothing. A more productive way to visualise a goal is to spend just five minutes on the task. Once you’ve started, you’ll find the end is a tiny bit nearer than if you’d spent those five minutes daydreaming.
Real work means that you resist the urge to check your phone, and instead work for just 5 more minutes. Real work means that you get out of the house, put on your headphones, and work non-stop until you’ve completed what you set out to do. Real work means focusing on nothing but the task at hand.
The premise of this article is not about resisting work, it’s about training yourself to resist simple, immediate pleasures so that you can put in several hours of solid work without distraction. This Reddit post sums up my thoughts nicely:
“The real battle is when you wake up on a mundane, uneventful, boring day, and you are constantly tempted to give into tiny habits. And this happens every single day for weeks, months, or years, depending on the size of your goal.”
Deep down we all have a resistance to change. It’s much easier to stick with your old habits, but they will never lead to you achieving anything new. If you can overcome the distractions that the modern world throws at you, then you can be one step closer to achieving what you’ve always wanted to achieve.
Using the ideas I’ve outlined in this article, I am going to have a much more productive summer than I have in the past. Some of the projects I am planning to complete include:
- Starting a podcast (I’ll update the blog as soon as I’ve recorded the first episode)
- Building a DJ desk
- Emailing theatres, recording studios, etc. about audio work experience
- Updating this blog more (I’ve not been doing this much during exam season, but I have plenty of article ideas in the pipeline)
The best way to ensure I achieve these is to set one quantifiable goal for the day. If I manage to complete that goal, then I know I am one step closer to finishing the entire project.
Here are some ideas of quantifiable goals I am going to implement over the next few weeks:
- “Today I will leave the house, go to a coffee shop, and I will not return home until I have written at least 5 pages of my podcast script”
- “I will complete one coding project before lunchtime”
- “Today I will email 5 different businesses/companies expressing my interest in working for them for a week”
I hope this article has given you some inspiration for those of you who may be struggling with procrastination, or if you are not achieving as much as you believe you aught to be.
Do you have any goals (large or small) that you want to complete over the next few months? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Image source (yes, they are resistors): https://cdn.sparkfun.com/assets/c/4/a/9/d/515c7a2bce395f653d000002.png