Increasing Productivity by Beating Procrastination Review

Today, I decided I was going to challenge myself to write a blog post and/or watch a PluralSight modules/course every day.
I have been feeling stagnant lately and want to get back into improving myself.
I cannot think of a better way to start off that adventure than by writing a blog post about a PluralSight course on productivity and overcoming procrastination.

Steven Haunts put together the Increasing Productivity by Beating Procrastination course that released December 11, 2018.

One of the most significant threats to our productivity at work is procrastination and the difficulty in getting focused.
This course will teach you how to understand procrastination and offer practical tips for beating the habit and getting focused.

The course has four main modules:

  1. What Is Procrastination?
  2. Understanding Procrastination
  3. Overcoming Procrastination
  4. Developing an Ability to Focus

What Is Procrastination?

In this module, Steven defines procrastination as:

The habit of putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.

From my personal experience, this seems like an accurate definition.

He continues by outlining why he thinks we procrastinate:

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Procrastinators are Perfectionists
  3. Low Energy Levels
  4. Lack of Focus

Fear of Failure and Perfectionism seem like the same thing to me but arguably is probably the biggest reason why I procrastinate personally.
These are also the two that make absolutely the least amount of sense.
“Failure” is the best way to learn - this is how all children learn.
Somewhere while growing up this learning paradigm shifts into an avoidance of failure.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

Low Energy Levels seems like they could have a contributing impact on productivity, particularly towards the beginning of the week.
The phrase “a case of the Monday’s” supports this:

symptoms of a useless or horrible Monday morning after returning from the weekend, used in the movie Office Space

Lack of Focus seems a little too open-ended considering the Attention Deficit Disorder society we live in.
Everything is competing for focus at the same time and we only have a limited supply of it and willpower.
Perhaps this is what the author means.

Understanding Procrastination

With Procrastination defined, the author continues with identifying where procrastination occurs to try to help train your awareness of it.
With this there are some things we individually will need to accept in order to decrease the chances of procrastination occurring:

  1. Accepting we are not perfect
  2. Understanding failure is not fatal
  3. Aim to do your best and be happy about the output
  4. Try to develop a healthier lifestyle to get more energy
  5. Go to bed earlier
  6. Reduce screen time before bed time

The nature of the first few seem very Zen/Stoic.

Zen:

An approach to an activity, skill, or subject that emphasizes simplicity and intuition rather than conventional thinking or fixation on goals.

Stoic:

of or pertaining to the school of philosophy founded by Zeno, who taught that people should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.

The remaining ones seem related to each other but do play an important part in our lifestyles and self-improvement.

The overall message seems to be “do the best possible, reflect, and improve”.

Overcoming Procrastination

Stephen provides the following options to get rid of obstacles that lead to procrastination:

  1. Avoid the distraction (move away from the distraction)
  2. Blocking the distraction (prevent the distraction from occurring)
  3. Satisfy the need (hunger)
  4. Confront the distraction (environmental noise)
  5. Just start the task

Out of all of these, Just Start the Task has been the biggest boon to my productivity.
I find that within five minutes of starting a task I have overcome my procrastination.

It is for this reason I appreciate techniques/frameworks/guidelines such as the Pomodoro Technique, Kanban, and Getting Things Done.
These tools are what I use as the foundation for my habits that the author encourages to build.
For Stephen, creating a habit should have the following guidelines:

  • A productive mindset
  • Set goals (measurable and prioritized)
  • Identify tasks that can be turned into habits
  • Put a place and time for the habit (define your habits environment)
  • Remind yourself of the goal

Summary

Overall, the course did not provide me with any new insights or tools to help me overcome procrastination.
But realistically, should there be?
David Allen, the creator of Getting Things Done admits in his book that he would not be teaching how to do anything new but would be providing the framework that utilizes all we know.

If nothing else, the course was a different perspective and reassurance that others suffer from procrastination.
My biggest takeaway from the course will be “If you fail, forgive yourself, make adjustments and try again.”
Must be my perfectionism wanting to get it right the first time or not at all.

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