Early on in my life, I recognized that avoidance and procrastination were a downward spiral. Putting things off only leads to stress, which impacts the ability to do things that aren’t the thing you’re trying to dodge. Not doing a thing doesn’t make it miraculously go away. Doing it does. It wasn’t until someone made me think about how I managed to be so prolific in terms of how much I was able to get done that I made the conscious connection between procrastination and hyperproductivity.
For me, there are two specific pain points. These are the reasons I’m tempted to procrastinate. The first is not knowing what to do. This is why I outline everything. If I look at what I need to do and I’m still locked up, I break the tasks down even further until the chunks seem clear and manageable. Yes, this can take time, but it’s worth the investment. It beats sitting around, staring at the walls, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Procrastination and Hyperproductivity
This is also why I never outline a project on the same day I’m writing it. It’s why I set up my bullet journal for the coming week on Sunday. There’s no pressure that I’m supposed to be doing any of those things at that moment. Planning is the only task I need to accomplish, and I love planning. Outlining and making lists gives me time to process what has to be done. I have a chance to think before I dive into it, even if it’s just cycling through my subconscious. It’s also rewarding to check off the sections of the outline later as I complete them. In my mind that future satisfaction starts to build up enthusiasm.
The second is worrying about the outcome. What if I do this, and it fails? If you never start, you’ll never finish, and it you never finish you can’t fail. For me, this gets worse the more important the outcome is, and the less confident I am about my ability to succeed. That’s normal, but when you have an anxiety disorder, it’s sheer hell. If I’m being honest, one of the reasons I push myself to be hyperproductive is so if one thing doesn’t work out, there’s something else going. I mitigate my risk and hedge my bets.
Productivity as Anxiety Management
What I’ve learned to do is lean into my fear of anxiety. I am more afraid of having a panic attack than of failing at any given thing. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, it literally feels like you’re dying. The first time I had one, I thought it was a heart attack. I can remind myself of all of the thing I failed at, survived, and recovered from. That is less scary than the effects of anxiety. Doing things, even odious and frightening things, makes them go away. Getting things done gives me a sense of control and accomplishment.
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