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Procrastination seems to be something new podcasters do quite regularly. They use the excuse they want everything perfect before they finally hit the record button on their first episode. I want to explore some of the myths that cause procrastination in new podcasters.
It Has to Be Perfect
Many podcasters guilty of procrastination tell me they want their artwork and initial episode to be perfect. There really is no such thing as perfect in either area. This is called perfectionism.
Perfectionism is one of the main causes of all types of procrastination. Many people are afraid to make a mistake and expose a weakness. This fear of making mistakes can cause you to put off things you know need to get done.
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford University psychologist Carol S.
Dwick explains that people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are set in stone, so they only focus on their current intelligence or talents, believing they cannot be developed.
They believe that they were born with what they have, and they can't improve upon their abilities. They don't believe in growth in these areas. People with a fixed mindset also believe that effort is not needed for success if someone has talent. They believe the talent just comes naturally.
So, why can a fixed mindset be dangerous to a podcaster? It hinders one's ability to grow, learn, and make positive changes and that will cause procrastination as you attempt something you may think you are not talented at.
On the other hand, a growth mindset allows a person to believe their abilities can prosper and be developed through dedication and hard work. They believe that people's brains and talents are a mere starting point. The believe for growth mindset people is they are born with their individual strengths, but there is no limit to what they can accomplish. The desire to learn and overcome problems in order to be successful is part of the
Dwick explains that one's mindset reveals how great teachers, parents, and managers can advance in their careers and achieve great accomplishments. Have the correct mindset and you can motivate, lead, and teach in a way that will positively change your
According to Hillary Rettig, the author of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block, people who procrastinate due to perfectionism tend to have a fixed mindset.
When someone has a fixed mindset, they avoid doing certain tasks because they fear the risk of making a mistake and looking anything less than perfect. They want everything they do to be perfect. Because of their belief that they will inevitably fail if the task is not in line with their given talents, it is best to set it aside for another time in their mind.
Many people think that being a perfectionist is a positive trait, it is actually quite detrimental. It is a dangerous mix of habits and attitudes that discourage progression. Although often misunderstood as having high standards, perfectionism limits the definition of success to an unrealistic standard. This is a standard that will never be achieved, so why try?
I Don't Know What I am Doing
Picture this common scenario: You notice one day that a new mole has appeared on your arm. You start to get anxious that it may be cancerous, so you don't go to the doctor to get it checked out and simply hope it goes away on its own. Does this sound like you? Often times people are afraid of taking action on something because it may reveal a truth that they do not want to hear.
As a podcaster, is your procrastination because you don't have confidence in your topic? There is something that caused you to pick the topic. You should probably give it a try because you can always change things up later.
It turns out the old phrase “What you don't know can't hurt you” isn't really true. In almost every case, if you ignore something for a long period of time, hoping it will go away, it will only get worse.
Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a study on the effects of allowing misinformation to linger in someone's mind. The study noted that misinformation remains in one's memory and continues to influence their thinking, even if the person is aware that they are mistaken. This is an amazing fact to uncover The person is likely to make use of the misinformation, especially if it fits with their existing beliefs and makes for a logical story. As a result, they spread the misinformation to others.
This study applies to detriments in the environment, in politics, and on an individual level. M
The study found that a person's beliefs and personal views can be significant obstacles for changing believed misinformation. The more the misinformation fits their personal beliefs, the more likely they are to believe it. This is where caution applies.
Any attempt to present someone with an unwanted truth that is different from what they previously believed can backfire and amplify their incorrect ideas. When it comes to personal health issues, ignoring the problem instead of facing the truth can certainly lead to more severe health
Go back to our mole example. What if that mole truly is a form of cancer that is completely treatable during the early stages, but can grow malignant if ignored? You have two paths you can take: get the mole checked out and discover it is an easy fix, or procrastinate because you would rather assume everything is ok. What you don't know certainly can hurt you, and your personal beliefs that it will go away on its own are harmful.
Is fear of the unknown holding you back from recording that first podcast episode? Are you afraid that people won't like your show and will not listen? Are you afraid you won't do a great job on the editing?
All of these causes of procrastination are quite common.
By avoiding that first episode you don't have to receive the answers to the questions raised by your fears. However, ignoring these things can very well lead to you never releasing your podcast. You could waste countless hours and never have a podcast.
You must figure out what is causing your procrastination and then tackle it. Knowledge is power here.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get to the bottom of your procrastination.
- What am I afraid of?
- What is the worst that can happen?
- What happens if I ignore this?
- Why do I put this off?
- What am I gaining in the long run by putting this off?
- Am I trying to convince myself of something that is not true?
- Am I scared of the process or the result?
- Can I handle whatever the outcome may be?
- Am I really scared or was I just told this is a scary process?
I Will Do It Later
Is your procrastination because you believe you can simply do things later?Is it your belief that in just a few hours or a couple of days you will have the perfect opportunity to accomplish your task. As far as you know, you have nothing going on later.
The problem here is that procrastination creates a disconnect between how you think you will feel in the future and how you actually feel in the future.
In the ideal world “later” will see you with immense energy, focus and creative juices flowing.
Reality is that “later” will see you tired, unmotivated, worn out, distracted and disinterested.
There is a name for this phenomenon. It is called the hot-cold empathy gap and dynamic inconsistency.
Hot-Cold Empathy Gap
This refers to a state of mind that causes people to underestimate the influences of their instinctive drive on their attitudes, behaviors, and preferences.
The thing that is most important about of the hot-cold empathy gap is that human understanding greatly depends on one's state of mind.
The inability to minimize the empathy gap can cause negative outcomes in professional settings. Examples include doctors who cannot relate to their patients' pain level or a client who has no understanding of your time constraints. These subjective decisions can easily be influenced by the hot-cold empathy gap.
Your past experiences influence your decisions and at times cause your procrastination.
Obviously, your “future you” is unknown. You cannot predict your feelings or moods that will happen in the future. This adds a factor that could easily disrupt your plans for completing something in the future. Your mood may worsen or you may get into a state of mind that further keeps you from doing the task at hand.
A dynamic inconsistency is a situation where the decision maker's preferences vary over time, and their preferences become inconsistent. This presents to us the idea that there are different varieties of yourself. Depending upon who you are when making the decision, preferences may not properly align.
The unpredictability factor plays a huge part in this kind of procrastination. As an event gets closer, our doubts get bigger. When asked months before if we could meet a certain deadline, we agreed with no hesitation.
While the choice is the same in both situations, it is made at completely different times. We exhibit time inconsistency.
Studies show that when a decision is made will greatly affect the outcome. People asked to pick a movie to watch right away tend to pick a lowbrow movie, while those asked to pick a movie to watch in a few days tend to pick a highbrow movie.
What does this mean? Your mind changes over time, and the outcome of your decisions in relation to the point in time that the decision is being made can have a strong effect on how you think. You make different decisions for what will impact you in the immediate future than what will impact you down the road. So start recording that first episode!
These Tasks Are Easier
Many people find that doing the easiest tasks first is an approach they like. Often we choose to work on “easier” tasks because they are quick and easy to accomplish. This may include checking your email, talking to a co-worker, or doing some light paperwork.
The more time and effort it takes to do a task, the more likely people will procrastinate on getting it done. Without that instant gratification from successfully finishing a task, it seems like the reward for working is just too far away. People want to feel successful and accomplished sooner rather than later.
At Yogi's Podcast Network, when a show is on hiatus or a host is sick, we stick to the release schedule by filling in some “Best of” episodes. These are just recycled episodes. Thus, when I am editing, I tend to gravitate towards those “Best of” episodes because they are easy to finish.
Have you ever heard of the “Present Bias?” This term refers to one's tendency to prioritize the quick payoffs when considering the trade-offs between two future moments.
One study done at Princeton University studied subjects' brains while they made choices between immediate small rewards and larger rewards to be received at a later date. They found that there are two areas of the brain that compete for control over one's behavior when someone tries to decide between near-term rewards and long-term goals.
The procrastination study focused on 14 Princeton University students who were given a brain scan as they were asked to consider choices with a delayed reward. One example of a choice that students were offered was if they would take a gift card to Amazon.com with values ranging from $5 to $40 at that moment, or an unknown larger amount that they could receive if they waited a certain period of time, ranging from two to six weeks.
It was discovered that when subjects were considering choices involving the possibility of an immediate reward, parts of their brain were activated that are heavily influenced by neural systems associated with emotion. Additionally, all of the decisions that were made, both short- and long-term, activated the brain systems associated with abstract reasoning.
More interestingly, when students had the option of getting a short-term reward but chose the more valuable delayed option, the calculating areas of their brains were more active than their emotional areas. When subjects chose the short-term reward, the activity of the two areas was similar, with a small swing toward more activity in the emotional area.
The study concluded that the option of short-term rewards activates the emotion-related area of the brain and overcomes the abstract-reasoning areas.
The researchers decided that the emotional brain has a very hard time imagining the future, regardless of the fact that our logical brain can see the future consequences of current actions. While your emotional brain wants to receive immediate pleasure, no matter the future damage, your logical brain knows to think about long-term effects. More often than not, the immediate hassle of having to wait for a payoff doesn’t seem worth the unknown future benefits.
It is Not Clear How to Get Started
Sometimes the task you are facing seems too complex and difficult to understand–like podcasting. Podcasting has lots of moving parts and it can be difficult to wrap your head around what to do first.
A podcast launch consultant like myself can guide you through the process and avoid that procrastination.
One piece of advice is to take the larger tasks and break them down into smaller tasks. Make a list of what needs to be done and then break it down. Podcasting is not that difficult. I guarantee that if you stop procrastinating and start recording, you will find yourself wondering what took you so long.