Procrastination

I have (what feels like) eight thousand things to do… but instead I’m scrolling through Tumblr, procrastinating, and avoiding the work in front of me. Interestingly, I stumbled across some Neil Fiore on Raptitude… Dave writes:

Procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.

You see, procrastinators tend to be people who have made, for whatever reason, an unusually strong association between their performance and their value as a person. This makes failure or criticism disproportionately painful, which leads naturally to hesitancy when it comes to the prospect of doing anything that reflects their ability — which is pretty much everything…

Particularly prone to serious procrastination problems are children who grew up with unusually high expectations placed on them. Their parents may have been high achievers, leaving big shoes to fill, or they may have had neurotic and inhuman expectations of their own, or else they exhibited exceptional talents early on, and thereafter “average” performances were met with concern and suspicion from parents and teachers. In my case, I had extremely successful parents, and was considered gifted. I also expected great things from myself. So the pressure was maximized. I subsequently crumbled early and often.

Because it is rewarding in the short term, procrastination eventually takes on the form of an addiction to the temporary relief from these deep-rooted fears. Procrastinators get an extremely gratifying “hit” whenever they decide to let themselves off the hook for the rest of the day, only to wake up to a more tightly squeezed day with even less confidence.

What’s even worse is that I’ve commingled my procrastination with another habit. Even when I am being productive, I often need to think or clear my mind to move forward. Often I just need ten minutes, and it would be best just to walk around the block. But instead, I will mindlessly open Facebook or Tumblr, and begin running my eyes over the pages… it is idle surfing, almost meditative… but just engaging enough that my mind begins snagging on small pieces of content. So instead of being creative (or at least productive) I find myself consuming content that has no value. It’s like snacking on potato chips for the brain, or like a cigarette in the middle of the day. No reason.

Over the years I have gotten a lot better, and that has been directly tied to success and subsequent self-confidence. I’ve been able to face my work, but old habits, and especially old feelings, die very hard. I can read contracts and do my paperwork pretty easily at this point, but the creative work… that still requires force. I always say I need a few days to look at my images after I shot them. Yes, that’s how it was when I learned to shoot film all those years ago, but honestly… I just hate to look. I live in fear that there’s nothing good there. I need some distance from it. Even then I will scroll through images, take a break, pick a few more… and so on, until my initial selection is done. Then suddenly I’m quite pleased with what I have, and the tighter selection round commences.  But believe me, it takes me a while to get there.

Ok… back to work. I have images to select.

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