Laundry? Taxes? Work report?
“I don’t wanna” feelings can run strong. They are often complex, irritating, and frustrating.
Whether someone tells us to do something or even when we tell ourselves, it doesn’t matter. That internal sense of agency can feel threatened, and a mix of emotions begin to rise.
And as they build, so does our desire to protect ourselves from them, often culminating in some version of:
Where does this thought come from? More than just the specific work itself, there may be an association to your history with work in general.
Because of the struggles to engage, you may have a habit of waiting until the deadline before starting work. Urgency, after all, can help us get started.
Unfortunately, urgency often comes with its own host of emotions including: - Anger: “I can’t believe I have to do this!” - Shame: “I can’t believe I’ve let it go on this long…” - Frustration: “Where’s the stuff I need to do this?!” - Hopelessness: “How can I possibly get this done in time?” - Helplessness: “How can I ask for help? I’ve already burned my lines of good will for the same problem.”
Still, somehow you once again muddle through maybe with the help of sleeplessness, caffeine, and a few self-recriminating harsh words to help drown out these otherwise crushing emotions.
You may even do the thing well.
Supposedly, this would mean that “you’ve learned your lessons”:
But rarely do these lessons actually internalize.
Why not? What’s going on?
These negative emotions are increasingly associated with working at all. In other words, rather than learning in the direction you may like, one in which a calmer approach may begin to open, the pattern instead reinforces a harsher internal environment.
The harshness is what gets you through it after all, albeit with a few fresh scars each time.
But, that means that the next time you try to make it through, you bring those scars along, many of which may even reopen in the process.
It’s an awful cycle.
How do you break free? While it’s not a simple process, the start can be. Namely, you can begin with what I call “a Visit”.
A Visit is simply this: - Be with your chosen work - Set distractions aside - Stay for at least as long as a single conscious deep breath.
That’s it. You don’t even have to do any of the work. Preferably, you do this as early as possible, perhaps even the day something is assigned.
Of course, if you happen to nudge the work forward once or twice, that might be nice. If you get on a roll, hey that’s great. If nothing happens, do it again the next day.
You might even finish well before a deadline.
PS There’s certainly a lot more that can be done with a visit, including building an entire system around them. If you’re interested in learning more about finding ways to engage a more relaxed pace of working, how to do so responsibly, and even get to the things you enjoy more reliably, consider the Waves of Focus.
Kourosh Dini, MD is a psychiatrist, productivity expert, author, and musician.
Dear Reader, Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with David Sparks and Stephen Hackett on their Mac Power Users podcast. As always, I had a lot of fun waxing eloquently, not so eloquently, and everywhere in between on matters of technology, with a momentary ode to boardgames and music. Click the button to listen to the MPU podcast episode: Listen to : "Technological Empathy" Kourosh 113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104Unsubscribe · Preferences
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