Welcome to Akrasia. Where is that? I hear you ask. Well, it is not a real physical place. But it is a state of mind. A state of mind that almost feels like a place when we are there. It is quiet in Akrasia with not a lot happening. Almost barren. It’s a nice place too because it is peaceful with no one to tell you what to do. You can do – or to be more precise – not do exactly what you want. So, it is OK to go there and hang for a while. But you don’t want to spend a lot of time there…
What I am talking about is procrastination. And I believe it is a common trait in most, if not all of us. The art of not doing what you set out to do. We have all found ourselves there whether you realise it or not. We have a task that we know we need to complete. But there is always another task that feels easier to deal with. Checking my e-mails is my go-to first port in Akrasia. Before I realise it, 2 hours have passed and the job I should have done is not started. I kid you not, this has happened for days on end until I eventually got around to doing the original task. When you add checking your social media channels, YouTube, and looking up items of general interest on-line, there really is a lot of time to be wasted.
I decided to do a bit of research to find out if there were any techniques to help with this state of mind and I found another word for procrastination – Akrasia. I thought this sounded like a place, so I started to imagine procrastination as a place to go to. And there were times, (when I started to realise what was happening), that it really felt like I was somewhere else. I was somewhere else in my mind and not where I really wanted to be. So, I started to pay more attention to what was happening when I reached this mind set, and this is what inspired my song “Akrasia”.
Not every day will be a good day
When we don’t know a lot about how we are going to achieve a goal, it is easy to fall back on something we are familiar with as with the above situations. Before we know it, time evaporates which then makes it easy to cancel what we originally set out to do until tomorrow. I believe this state of mind stems from the fear of failing. It starts with questioning if it’s worth doing what you are doing. Will it work? Will anybody like what I am doing? Is what I am doing going to make any difference? Well maybe I will just check my e-mails while I am pondering this conundrum. Welcome to Akrasia.
I needed to be honest with myself. I don’t know if I am going to be a failure or a success. The only way to know this was to get on with it and find out. One day, I found myself sitting almost childlike having a mental battle with myself to do or not to do. There were too many questions about what I was doing to answer without trying it out. So, I thought I just need to get on with it. I took a deep breath, pulled myself together and managed to start to achieve. Small steps at first. But with every little success I found it easier to move on to the bigger unknowns that were the real barriers. And that battle continues today.
Make a list
One technique I used was to make a list of what I wanted to achieve that day. I did this first thing, before anything else. Well mostly while I was having my first coffee of the day. That list is then placed in a prominent place where it cannot be avoided. Then if I strayed into Akrasia, sight of the list would help me to get re-focused on what was important. It works for me. Although on particularly bad days, I have had to just stop completely and re-focus away from the workstation. Going for a walk, speaking to random people on the street and generally changing your surroundings temporarily also works. After an hour or so I always feel refreshed and ready to get back to the list and get on with things. This is what works for me. I am sure there are many more.
I completed my album “Here We Sit” just over a year ago. And during the making of that album, I discovered something about myself. I was very good at procrastination. There was always time for another cup of coffee, or a quick phone call to one of my nearest and dearest. Then I would make my way to the studio, and start by checking my e-mails, my social media, looking at another instruction video on YouTube etc. There are many ways to enter Akrasia.
Another Deep Breath Required
With the help of some music industry experts and the obligatory YouTube how to videos (not always procrastination), I think I have managed to further the “Here We Sit” album project beyond where I thought I would get to. To think that the album is now available on everyone’s phone, pc and laptop is mind boggling for me. I never thought I would get this far. It probably took me longer than some, but I think I have largely achieved what I set out to do. Now it’s time to go to the next step. Time to make another list.
I hope you find this article useful. As always, I am no expert on the subject. This is my personal perspective. There are other more qualified people who talk about this in more depth. A quick search online will lead to many more very useful guides. If you have enjoyed this then please let me know your experiences with procrastination, and stay in touch.
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