MINDFULNESS AND PROCRASTINATION
Neil A. Fiore, PhD
Mindfulness training, as I understand it, tells you to sit still and focus your mind. Think about it; isn’t that what you do when you are your most productive and not procrastinating?
Mindfulness, thankfully, doesn’t require extraordinary disciple. Mindfulness is portable. It can fit into your day-to-day tasks on the spot. It can even fit into your work and help you recuperate from illness, surgery, and some forms of depression.
You can actually work more efficiently and creatively and recuperate more rapidly by being mindful of where you are and what you’re doing with a razor-sharp focus.
The problem with your usual ways of approaching work is that a part of you doesn’t want to do it because you’re telling yourself: “You have to get all this work done and miss out on the fun of life.” But if you thought of your work as an opportunity to take a brief vacation from struggle and from the conflicting—and often critical—voices in your head, you could use mindfulness practice as a way to get started more comfortably on your major, life-changing goals and have more time for fun and guilt-free play.
By applying the helpful mindfulness principles you can approach work with a very different attitude toward your work. You could get started sooner on important work tasks and receive the benefits of mindfulness while not wasting time with workaholism, perfectionism, or procrastination if you:
- choose a time to start;
- show up and face your fears and doubts;
- push aside distracting thoughts and feelings;
- focus your mind on the work of writing and problem solving; and
- shift from not knowing to knowing something you didn’t know a few moments ago.
Isn’t that similar to meditation and mindfulness? And why not include the valuable mindfulness principles of compassion toward yourself and others, losing yourself in the task—whether it’s washing a dish or talking with a loved, shift from defending your ego to focusing on the task, and connecting with your larger brain and the universe.
Why not multi-task in a way that’s healthy for your mind and body while getting work done in a pleasant state of mind? Mindfulness practice could be your solution to overcoming procrastination, anxiety and stress while feeling smug about being mindful. This is the true “productivity secret.”
You don’t have to get up at 5AM to meditate for an hour or force yourself to work for hours on a boring or overwhelming project. You can just sit still, take a few deep breaths, float down into the support of the chair and focus your mind in a soft, day-dreamy state, on the task before you. It’s like taking a vacation! Why not take a minute or two or five throughout your day to take a vacation from your past disappointments and your future worries and just flow down into the ease of enjoying a safe place in the present moment. As you learn to enjoy this moment–the only moment there is to be both relaxed and effective—you will be transforming your work into a meditation and a way of accessing your deeper wisdom, free of ego struggle.