Input as procrastination

A few months ago, I came to the abrupt realization that I was providing myself with way too much input, and not outputting enough.

It’s amazing how easy this is to do, really. When we’re uncomfortable, uncertain, or generally hesitant to proceed… it’s much easier to read, listen, or watch a lot about what we’re trying to do, as opposed to actually doing it.

In other words: excessive input is a form of procrastination.

(Sorry to shatter your world)

If you’re already working on a project, and stop to get some insight into what you’re already doing in order to help yourself move forward — that’s obviously not procrastination. Unless you find yourself not going back to your initial task as a result.

The bottom line is that I’ve had to become increasingly mindful of the intention and purpose behind seeking and consuming this information.

I read countless articles on how to overcome procrastination, which only offered little bits and pieces that I didn’t already know. This led me to spend even more time on it.

When I actually tracked the amount of input I was providing myself, it was way off — something like 20% of my overall time was just spent giving myself gratuitous information on the things I was trying… but ultimately, at the end of the day, failing to do.

What I should have been doing is just doing it.

Giving myself a chance to become uncomfortable.

Feeling my heart rate go up as I consider how to even get started.

Watching my hands shake a bit because my brain is struggling to come up with a context for this process ending in success.

Feeling uncertainty creep up on me. And uncertainty has been my achilles heel.

Wanting to stand up and walk away. Do literally anything else. Something comforting and familiar.

But also…

Hearing my negative self-talk set in—that there are others who probably get this even though I don’t (and not letting them defeat me or turn me off from my task).

Identifying one small part that I can get done, then riding that confidence into the next small task.

This process of repeatedly showing up and making yourself uncomfortable is what I’ve come to know as exposure therapy.

And heck if it doesn’t work, although you may be exhausted at first until your brain starts to “normalize” its inappropriately strong response to the perceived threat.

So, my advice today is to not let yourself get paralyzed by input.

Be mindful of the kind of input you’re giving yourself.

Is it going to help you in the long run?

Is it something you already know? If so, is it at least super important and useful, and you just need a reminder?

(A reminder of something useful — say, advice for an approach — from time to time isn’t a bad thing. But if you’re running to review material you already know instead of just doing the thing, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.)

I already know that I can do everything that I need to do today. I don’t have to learn specific new steps, and if I do, I can identify them in the moment. Or beforehand, during my planning and research phase.

Pick those input sources wisely today, and don’t let them derail your progress.✌🏽

Did you find my musings helpful? That’s awesome. Be sure to follow my Medium account for more good stuff. :)

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Nicole Archambault

Nicole Archambault

Weaver of code and beautiful stories. 👩🏽‍💻✨

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