I have realized and accepted the harsh fact that I sometimes keep myself busy without being productive, that is - I procrastinate. Recently, guilt has begun to creep into my consciousness and guilt in any form is unacceptable to me. So, here I am writing about how to break through procrastination.

Admittedly or not, humans love to procrastinate; to avoid confronting something they feel will be unpleasant, awkward or painful. Their procrastination may take the form of posting on Facebook or Tweeting on Twitter, talking to or texting endlessly to friends, or avoiding confrontations. There are endless ways our minds trick us into thinking we are doing something meaningful when we are actually dawdling to avoid a task.

But, eventually when we realize the task still looms – full-frontal, we suddenly awaken to the fact that time is running and we still must do what we have to do. As time compresses, motivation increases. This is the power of - a deadline.

The historical definition of a deadline is: “a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot.” Deadline in modern times is defined as, “a date or time when something must be finished: the last day, hour, or minute that something will be accepted.” The later definition often applies if you have a boss, a teacher, colleague or a partner who holds you accountable. In this scenario a missed deadline might result in criticism, anger, wrath or even the loss of a job.

But, what happens when you are an entrepreneur and you not only set the rules for your productivity, but are also only accountable to yourself? This is where the power of a deadline can pump up your motivation, IF - you are cognizant of the following fact.

Despite good intentions, many people suffer from a common perceptual issue known in psychology as the “planning fallacy.” This phenomenon occurs because of our inability to accurately predict how long something will take to complete. Worse yet, our brain is designed to be strangely optimistic about our ability to get something done quickly Therefore, if we are not realistic about how much time a project might take, we can end up pressuring ourselves with enormous negative stress.

What if your self-imposed deadline is huge? First, divide the project into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each one. Your brain can wrap around that.

Let me get personal for a moment. My intention for months has been to create a new one-man show involving storytelling woven with a little, let’s say, enchantment. I have been writing ideas down, studying some new communication techniques but I was having trouble putting the pieces together. I fantasized about trying it out in front of an audience. But, when?

Last week I committed to performing three shows as a benefit at a theater in Connecticut. BOOM! Motivation x 3 mixed with a healthy amount of anxiety. I hacked my brain for motivation with a deadline and I’m now moving forward.

It is generally agreed as most people approach a deadline that they become more motivated, more focused, improve their performance and work harder at the task. But, here is the real key - all humans move towards pleasure and away from what they perceive as pain.

When you set a deadline, you trigger a mechanism that will guide you to avoid the pain of failing to complete the task and you feel the pleasure of achieving it. That is nothing short of cool and provides you with the perfect way to hack your brain for motivation!

Author's Bio: 

James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™ & Patient Pre-Op/Post-Op Healing Therapy™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best- selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, medical facilitator, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.
For over 30 years, James has been an ardent student of human behavior and dedicated to helping individuals, teams and organizations identify and break through barriers to reach their goals. He encourages people to be open to new ways of thinking, and his mission is to help everyone make the “quantum leap” toward more creative, healthier, productive and confident lives. For both businesses and individuals, his message promotes an innovative, powerful way of thinking and provides a new-found mastery over their imagination and perceptions. The results have been nothing short of extraordinary, creating key breakthroughs in both organizational and personal excellence.
James has spoken to hundreds of public and private companies in more than 70 countries. His clients include the healthcare industry, financial institutions, software companies, the military, training and development divisions of large corporations and major non-profit organizations. Companies, associations, universities and business schools including – IBM Corporate, The Omnicom Group, Baylor Healthcare, U.S. Coast Guard, Lockheed Martin and The Princeton Center for Leadership Training – have quoted Mapes in training manuals and textbooks.
In the 1970’s, James became interested in the power of the subconscious mind. To better understand this intriguing area, he researched psychology, philosophy, neurology and eventually, hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. His expertise quickly earned him recognition as a clinical hypnotist, becoming highly effective in assisting clients in reducing stress, weight reduction, smoking cessation, the elimination of phobias, reducing nausea due to chemotherapy in cancer patients and pain reduction. As a skilled practitioner of regression techniques, he helped the New York City Police Department in “memory recovery” with both witnesses to, and victims of, crime, and he has worked with professional athletes to help improve their performance in their sport.
In his newest program, MIND OVER BODY: Harness Vision to Create a Wellness Strategy, James Mapes brings together a lifetime of experience in the field of mind/body practices, and knowledge from his own open-heart surgery, to this interactive programs: MIND OVER BODY: Harness Vision to Create a Wellness Strategy and Patient Pre-Op/Post-Op Healing Therapy™. James teaches mental self-care and self-healing tools to individuals to manage stress, reduce pain and promote healing. James has presented to organizations worldwide on the importance of leading healthier and more balanced lives.
James Mapes’ success as a speaker and highly regarded authority on the imagination, creative thinking, communication, managing change, organizational problem-solving, successful teamwork, leadership and coaching is due to his early training as an actor and experience as a theatrical producer. In 1969, he graduated from California State University with a Master of Arts degree in theater and speech. He then worked in repertory theater, off-Broadway and directed two of his own theater companies, amassing dozens of television and movie credits. As a performer, he developed a unique stage presence with a special talent for connecting with his audience. Mapes’ work has earned him appearances on CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America and Fox Family Channel, among other media outlets.