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Weekend Reads

Contrarian Ideas about Procrastination (Weekend Reads)

February 12, 2016 — by Matt

This weekend’s reads are all about procrastination. But rather than lambasting the favorite vice of so many of us, these articles take a different approach. I love challenging my own views on things and these articles were refreshing in how they presented procrastination.

PROCRASTINATION CAN BE A GOOD THING

This is an article Austin Kleon included in his most recent newsletter, and it’s an interesting take on procrastination. Author Adam Grant experimented with purposeful procrastination and found that it actually helped his creativity.

I can be a terrible procrastinator. And like most of us, I attribute such negative connotation to procrastination that whenever I do it, I chastise myself mercilessly. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing and the ever-present underlying guilt, maybe it’s my expectations for myself… whatever it is, I feel like shit while I’m procrastinating but I just keep doing it.

Practiced or purposeful procrastination is an interesting idea though. I actually think the value in Grant’s approach is in slow, steady work and not in the procrastination itself – doing nothing for a month and scrambling to finish your work the night before a deadline won’t do anything for creativity.It’s true that when you rush to finish something, you often take the most logical, conventional route. Working more slowly allows you to explore more creative, divergent, non-conventional ideas and approaches.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PROCRASTINATION BUT WERE TOO LAZY TO FIGURE OUT

This article also deals with procrastination, but the contrarian idea found here isn’t necessarily about procrastinating. It comes at the end of the article, and it’s about positive thinking and identity. Here’s a passage from the article:

Chances are you’ve experienced this in some area of your life as well. The more you care about the outcome, the harder it feels to achieve. The less you care, the more naturally it comes to you.

It’s backwards in a way. The more I try to convince myself that I’m a brilliant writer and that I have something important to say, the more the simple act of writing an article threatens my identity, and the more I procrastinate writing it.

Whereas if I just believe that I’m just some random dude who puts words on paper, eventually the act of writing then threatens nothing and procrastination stops.

This is one (of many) ways that positive thinking can actually derail us.

What Mark Manson (who is becoming one of my favorite bloggers) touches on here is very interesting – the idea that building this idealized idea of our identity puts tons of pressure on ourselves, because failing to do what we tell ourselves is inherently in our nature threatens our identity.

I run into this all the time. I start an article or a song and I tell myself it’s going to be amazing – and as such, I won’t let myself just create because if it isn’t perfect, it’ll be a failure. Maybe this flies in the face of my identity-based personal pillars a little bit… or maybe not. I’m not sure yet.

I do know that when we were kids, we didn’t care about what legacy our actions would leave or if it threatened our identity or not because we didn’t really have a premeditated identity – we just did stuff. And I also know that injecting a little bit of that “just do stuff” mentality into our life and work could help a lot of us bust through our self-inflicted roadblocks. I mean, we are what we continually do, right?


Have a great weekend!

ExplorationTools and Systems

Weekend Reads: Articles that Challenge my Thinking

November 20, 2015 — by Matt

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” – Albert Einstein

Anyone who tells you they’ve figured it all out is lying or delusional. Even if we get some aspects of life, love, ambition, passion, or whatever “figured out” to the level we’re happy and energetic, it’s still in our best interests to always be exploring other approaches.

Just like everyone else, I’m trying to figure everything out. I try things, I do experiments, I read the stories of others, I find things that work or don’t work for me and I adjust. So when I stumble across an approach that flies completely in the face of my own assumptions or preconceptions, I’m elated. I get to explore another alternative! There’s the potential to find something in there that works for me!

Even if I don’t end up agreeing with or adopting any part of the advice or approach, seeing an issue from another angle is always beneficial. But more often than not, as long as I can keep an open mind, I’m likely to find something of value in there.

The following two articles really challenged my ideas on two topics about which I’ve recently posted – the value of writing every day, and defining the type of person you want to be.

Maybe there’s a better thing to write down each day?

One Research-Backed Way to Effectively Manage Your Stressful and Busy Schedule – by James Clear

A few weeks ago I wrote about how writing down on positive occurrence each day helped break me out of a funk and reframe my thinking toward positivity. I then wrote about how being challenged on that approach made me reconsider whether there were other equally effective methods more making a habit of positive thinking.

Well, leave it up to one of my favorite bloggers James Clear to challenge my thinking yet again and use a research-backed approach to take the idea further. In this article James highlights a study in which students tied their own personal values to their daily journal entries and saw a marked improvement in health, attitude, and energy.

It makes a ton of sense. Just like you’ll make a more emotional connection with your goals by focusing on the type of person you want to be (an idea that was, admittedly, heavily influenced by James’ writing), tying your underlying values to your journaling should make those journals more impactful in the long run. My approach changes your mood for the day or week; James’ sets the stage for fundamental changes in your attitude and approach.

Do you really need to “find” your passion?

Screw Finding Your Passion by Mark Manson

A friend sent me this article. She said she thought I’d enjoy it and that it fit into the themes about which I was writing. Boy, was she right.

I love so much about this article. Without spoiling it, the article posits that most of us trying to find “our passion” are really overcomplicating it. We know what we enjoy doing and what we’d spend our time doing if we had no commitments or expenses. So… is there much more to it than that? I’m trying to figure it out myself, so I’m not sure – but I loved the approach Mark Manson took in his post.

More than just challenging my thinking, this article challenged my approach to this blog. This article does what I originally wanted to do with this blog – pointing out how adult complacency can hamstring our growth and how sometimes a more child-like approach will identify what’s important to us faster. I did it in my intro article but looking back, I haven’t highlighted that concept a whole lot – and I think it’s a compelling one. So I’ll make more of an effort to take that angle in future articles.


 

Got any article that have shook up your opinions or thinking lately? Post them in the comments below!

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