Unprocrastination: Neil Fiore

Forming ‘The Now Habit’ with Dr. Neil Fiore

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Dr. Neil Fiore, author of The Now Habit and The Now Habit at Work, knows a thing or two about what he calls “productivity engineering and mental toughness”.

I asked him to share some of his best tips and techniques, and he came through in a big way!

1. What have you been doing lately to beat procrastination?

I focus on Optimal Productivity, not on procrastination. Procrastination has become a diagnosis and an identity so it doesn’t tell us What to do, When to start. Optimal Productivity, or Working in the Zone, is more exciting and engages more of the brain so it eliminates the need to procrastinate.

I am offering webinars and downloads on Peak or Optimal Productivity which yield more time and energy for living a balanced, healthy life, thereby, also overcoming Workaholism.

2. What’s the biggest reason people have a hard time starting an important task, and what 1 or 2 habits should they form to beat this?

Difficulty starting is using caused by ineffective self-talk or ineffective self-management that says, “You have to get all these things done/finished. Your life is an endless have To Do List.”
This form of self talk causes stress, anxiety and resistance. Anxiety is stuck energy trying to get into the imaginary future place where things must be done [note that I disagree with David Allen].

Effective Habits:  shift from “done” to “When can I start?” To get things started, think “I am choosing to start for 5 or 15 minutes. I will get my fear inoculation shot and soon will know more than I know now.”

Give you brain and body a specific time to start and a specific task—a When and a What to work on. Do a mental rehearsal of starting and see how quickly creative solutions come to you.

3. If resistance has kicked someone’s butt for a long time, and they don’t know how to even start to change it, what do you suggest?

Resistance is a reaction to an authoritarian, often dictatorial, voice of “You have to do all of this work, doing it perfectly to avoid criticism, and suffer without having time for fun.”

Resistance — the voice of “I don’t want to” — is one half of the psycho-dynamics of procrastination, inner conflict between a 6 year old [“You have to follow the rules to avoid abandonment by your parents, and being shamed by society and in school”] versus a 2 year old [“I deserve unconditional love and—if you can’t give me love– you should give me what I want.”] This is classic Super ego vs. Id conflict.

Use Choice To Change: whenever there’s resistance look for how you’re telling yourself “You have to” thereby evoking rebellion. The very thought “You have to” means “You don’t want to. Some authority is forcing you to do something you don’t want to. You should resist and rebel.

That’s why I write in The Now Habit: Overcome Procrastination while Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, Awaken Your Strongest Self, and in The Now Habit at Work — about the importance of breaking free from inner conflict by shifting to “I am choosing to start for 15minutes on a rough draft, with plenty of free time in my schedule.” Choice is the third place that is activated in the higher, human brain and overrides lower brain fear and shame. [see my story of learning about Choice when I was about to jump out of an airplane at age 22]

Paraphrase of Gurdjieff: The unenlightened (animal) mind (brain) feels fear or want and reacts. The enlightened, human brain chooses how to act in accord with its higher values and goals (overriding—to use the Neuroscience term—both fear and want).