Over at the DTE Forum I’m running a 28 Day Challenge called Simply Organised in which we are building daily routines as the foundation of all housework tasks, the assumption being that, since we all eat, sleep, dress and bathe daily attention to these parts of the house will make the overall tasks simpler and quicker to do.
I’ve always been fascinated by both psychology and organisation, I’m equally enthralled by how the mind reacts to organisational efforts and it’s interesting to learn that it’s way less co-operative than you might think.
On the surface you would assume that organisation is a good thing so our minds would seize any effort to improve how we live but, when you investigate the reality by thinking back to your own experience, what happens?
Exactly. We procrastinate. And why? Often enough perfectionism rears it’s ugly head, as in the case of a household task you might think “I’ll vacuum the floor” then your brain cuts in with “And you’d better do the skirting boards, dust all the flat surfaces first …” Sound familiar?
Then there is the self doubt about the work we’ll do, can we do it properly, will we do all of it, will it get done in the time we want to do it…this siege mentality can exhaust you before you even start.
To exacerbate this, I learned via my latest intellectual crush, Cal Newport, that procrastination is an evolutionary trait.
Simply said, our frontal lobes learned to do complex planning early in evolution, the brain would evaluate the plan according to whether we were likely to survive or not. Thus, the evolved brain evaluates plans and, if the plan seems likely to succeed, the brain will accept it. If the brain perceives the plan as flawed it will biochemically steer you away from the plan in what results in procrastination.
Note that. The evolved brain causes procrastination, not your innate character.
The brain is rejecting is the plan, not the goal, it’s the plan that is causing the brain to hesitate. As I’m suggesting to our Challenge participants back up and review your plan when procrastination hits. Don’t use your new understanding of procrastination as another excuse, use it as a tool to improve the plan.