Imagine a situation – you have a lot of work to do, but you just can’t get your mind straight to start working. You are constantly finding yourself distracted or doing something else to avoid the real work, even if it’s a total waste of time and you know it. The more you think that you need to start doing, or how to start doing, the further from working you actually get.
There are millions of articles and books out there on how to stop procrastinating and start doing the work you need to, but I think that this question is still left unanswered, at least for me. Most of the solutions out there are something like “just do it”, “make a schedule” or “congratulate yourself after the work is done”, which are great, but none of those actually work in long term. They are still trying to trick you into working.
When you are employed, you are under a pressure to perform if you won’t you will be fired, and for most people that is one of the main reasons why they get things done. But when you try to work on your own things, being entrepreneur, writer, artist or creator of someone sort, there are no pressure, no one can fire you. Being under that pressure was the only way you were used to doing things, and when it’s gone, you get distracted. Knowing that, one might say that you just need to figure out how to simulate similar pressure in your working environment. We could try out ways like, making a bet with someone that puts you under pressure of losing something, setting a deadline for yourself to simulate some pressure, etc. but I believe that this is not the problem we need to solve.
People around us put this image in our heads that work is something you have to do instead of having fun. We get pushed to do things we don’t want to from an early age, and when we ask why we should do it, the answer is usually, “because I told you to”. Instead of giving a reason and understanding to us, we get forced to do it and our basic human reaction to force is resistance. At school in a math class, there will always be some kid who is asking, “Where will I ever use this in my life?”, but he never receives a good answer to this question, at least not in my experience. Because the kid is left wondering why he needs it, he never learns how to use tools and that he would find opportunity to use them, only if he learned how-to in the first place. On the other side, kid who is learning something just because he is told to isn’t really different if not worse.
Our egoistic human nature makes us think that world is made for us and that it has to give our life a purpose, when really we are here to serve the world, and our only purpose is to find what good we can do while we are here. If the work is our main purpose why are so many people trying to avoid it? Without something to do people can never be happy. I’ve noticed this in my own life every now and then. When there is a day during which I haven’t done anything meaningful I feel disappointed. But when you think about it, you could never feel bad or lost if you’ve done a good work that day. At least you won’t feel like your life doesn’t have a meaning.
This dislike for work has been all around us. We hear it everywhere, be it on TV, radio, internet. I hear the complaints about it on the radio every single day, for example, how many days left for you survive until Friday, or how miserable you are that you have to wake up early, etc. They may be little things like these, but if they are forced to us so often, we are also starting to think like that. After a while, these thoughts sink deeper and deeper in our subconscious. Because of that we need to put a lot of time and effort to change our mindset.
I believe it was Gary Vaynerchuk who said – “If you live only for Fridays and weekends then your shit is fucked up”. Well, isn’t that true? We need to understand that the only thing standing between you and the joy of work or actually anything, is our own thinking. That the main reason why we procrastinate is because we THINK of work as something we need to get ready for, or as something unpleasant. You need to get rid of that thought.
We could say that you need to love the thought of work, but you cannot ask for yourself to love work before you actually get started. Any kind of love needs time to form and become real. We need to nurture that love, put some effort, get progress. Before you can love something you need to like it first, so free up your mind, let go of the negative thoughts you have against work. Leave them neutral if you like. When you find yourself struggling to get something started, remember to not think of it as something you need to get ready for. Find something interesting in it and stick to that thought while you work, to keep you focused. I believe you can find something interesting for ourselves in any work. For example, if it’s physical work, you can think of it as workout.
Find in your work something that matters to you and focus on that while doing the work. If you think your work has no meaning, find it. Find something for yourself. Stop complaining about work and enjoy it, the more times you will, the more naturally these feelings will come. Getting to work will become a sort of a habit, you will want to do it.