Embracing AI and Delay as Pathways to Innovation and Inspiration
Ah, procrastination. That ever-present companion who whispers sweet nothings of "just five more minutes" and lures us down rabbit holes of cat videos and endless to-do list revisions. We all know the feeling – the looming deadline, the mounting anxiety, the shame spiral of "Why am I like this?" But what if I told you procrastination, that bane of productivity, might be a secret weapon in your creative arsenal?
Hold on before you reach for the snooze button on this blog post. Let's delve into the fascinating world of procrastination and its surprising connection to creativity, with a special guest appearance by organizational psychologist and author of several best-seller books including Originals, Think Again, and the most recent Hiden Potential, Adam Grant.
Before we explore the paradox, let's acknowledge some of the reasons that often drive us to procrastinate in the first place:
Fear of failure:
The dreaded imposter syndrome can rear its ugly head, making us avoid tasks for fear of not meeting our own (or perceived) expectations.
This can also be masked into an analysis paralysis or the sea of excuses that cross your head when instead of starting a project you overly focus on planning. I got into this trap before starting this blog, taking business classes instead of buying a domain and starting writing.
Some tasks are just plain boring or overwhelming, leading us to seek refuge in anything but doing them.
Let's agree that it's much easier to respond to a random email than to start a project plan with more rows and columns than your screen can fit. Do you also feel that the task we are avoiding is easier than expected when you finally start it?
The quest for flawless execution can paralyze us with indecision and revision fatigue, stalling progress indefinitely.
"Perfectionism is a self-destructive and adictive belief" Brene Brown
I am a recovering perfectionist and I regularly go back to page 80 of Dare to Lead, on which best-seller author vulnerability queen Brene Brown explains how this trait, prevents us from achieving our goals and sets us to feeling shame.
In our hyper-connected world, notifications, and information bombard us from all sides, making it challenging to focus on any one thing for long.
It takes 23 min to go back to a flow state after an interruption according to a study by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine. This impact can be aggravated if your finger accidentally taps into a social media app after you read the Slack message on your phone.
Lack of motivation:
Without a clear purpose or reward for completing a task, it's easy to put it off in favor of activities that offer immediate gratification. There's a similar challenge to form new habits that are needed to achieve your New Year resolutions.
As Simon Sinek would say, 'Start With Why' when asking for teammates or friends to help with non-appealing tasks, and use reframing when you need extra motivation. You can 'do the dishes' or you can 'keep your house organized so you can think more clearly'.
If you are interested in exploring more the causes or repercussions of procrastination, check out Psychology Today they have various articles about this topic.
As divas, our goal here is to move past procrastination so we can achieve our goals.
Back to Adam Grant, who explored the lives of some of history's most groundbreaking thinkers and doers. He reveals a surprising truth – many of these creative giants were notorious procrastinators. Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa's enigmatic creator, famously took years to finish his masterpieces, while Mark Twain, the literary wit, was known to miss deadlines with Olympic-level dedication.
Grant argues that this "procrastination paradox" might be a fuel for creativity. Procrastinating can give you time for introspection, allowing ideas to simmer and evolve in the subconscious. It can free you from the pressure of immediate perfection, leading to unexpected bursts of inspiration and unconventional approaches.
Now, before you throw out your calendar and embrace a life of unfettered procrastination, let's remember that not all procrastination is created equal. There's a difference between intentional incubation and chronic avoidance. The key is to be mindful of your creative process and find the sweet spot between productive delay and debilitating paralysis.
Here are three ways to turn your procrastination into a potent creative fuel:
1. Embrace the AI Muse:
Gone are the days of endless library searches and solo brainstorming sessions. Today, we have the AI muse at our fingertips. Imagine feeding your initial spark of an idea to a smart assistant and watching it blossom into a constellation of possibilities. AI-powered tools can help you research related topics, generate diverse perspectives, and even churn out initial drafts. Think of it as your brainstorming partner, on steroids! This can be especially helpful when that initial fear of failure or blank-page anxiety creeps in.
2. Let Curiosity be Your Compass:
Remember those procrastination-fueled detours down Wikipedia rabbit holes and obscure online forums? They're not just distractions – they're potential detours to hidden inspiration. Instead of fighting the urge to explore, lean into it! Let your curiosity guide you down unexpected paths, follow tangential threads, and get lost in the labyrinth of information. You never know what serendipitous connections or unexpected insights might be waiting around the corner.
3. Schedule Your Delay:
Let's face it, not all procrastination is born equal. Chronic avoidance is a thief of time, but strategic delay can be a strategic tool. Block out focused periods in your calendar where you're "allowed" to procrastinate – to explore the internet, daydream, or simply let your mind wander. These scheduled pauses can be surprisingly productive, allowing you to return to your task with fresh eyes and renewed inspiration.
Remember, the key is to be mindful of your procrastination tendencies and use them strategically. Don't let them become your creative kryptonite. Transform those "just five more minutes" into fertile ground for exploration and serendipity.
So, the next time you find yourself lost in the throes of a "productive procrastination" session, don't despair. Celebrate it! You might just be one detour away from your next masterpiece.
Now, over to you! Share your own experiences with using procrastination for creativity in the comments below. Let's build a community of divas who embrace the unexpected paths to creative expression.