This is round two of trying to get into your head and explain why we do some of the unwise things we do with our time as freelancers. Sometimes, we just take this freedom from having a boss to an extreme when we really need to be the boss that keeps us in line.

In the first article, I talked about the misconceptions of being a multitasker. Some people wear it as a badge of courage when they should be careful and put the badge aside to allow themselves to get things done. Remember the statistic I cited; Multitasking can reduce your productivity by 40% or more because it is a disruptive practice. You lose 23+ minutes of productive time for each time you change to a different task. You also lose 10 points off the genius IQ. Yikes!!

Ok, so much from me and my personal demons. Let’s talk about what the psychologists have to say from their experiences and learned ways by dealing with people like me. We’ll talk a little bit about how the brain is wired which leads to validation of why multitasking is such a hard habit to break.

Our Brains Betray Us

Yes, the brain produces two enzymes that control rewards for things we like to do. Dopamine and Oxytocin are the culprits. When produced, they encourage loss of control to keep going on enjoying yourself. Social Media is a good example. People like scrolling down through the endless maze of streaming content and can’t let go once it’s started. Self-control doesn’t have a fighting chance. When we comment and post with anticipation of receiving comments and posts in reply, when they happen, we are hooked and just keep on keeping on until hours have passed. These are potentially productive hours for completing work. However, work doesn’t hold the same capability to encourage the brain to release dopamine and oxytocin.

Self Control is not Infinite

We talked about it just a minute ago. You can control the brain for only so long if you’re doing work that does not interest you or excite you. Your willpower gets drained which brings on a whole rash of negative emotions, bad behaviors, and thoughts that wander far from the task at hand. Once that first burst of dopamine or oxytocin is released from looking ever so briefly at your iPhone messages or social media stream, the game is over for being productive. The brain will deceive you and tell you that you’re getting things done, but it lies.

Human Beings are Biased to be Active

I just said it. The brain lies to support what makes the person feel productive even though they aren’t. Answering an email by disrupting work on a blog post introduces unproductive actions by replacing it with a good feeling because you finished something by answering the email. The brain is actually promoting procrastination in place of productivity. It’s not laziness or lack of motivation on your part as most people think. We just had a few articles written about lack of motivation being a problem for some freelancers. It’s neither one. It’s a coping mechanism triggered by the brain to deal with emotionally unpleasant actions or difficult tasks. You look for a mood boost, and that computer game is right at your fingertips. You then perpetuate the feeling of procrastination and feel increasingly guilty and stressed.

Digital Addiction

Yep, this the diagnosis by the psychologists. Just like any other addiction, you have to remove the temptations to overcome the problem. They are easy to do and equally easy to violate, but it is an excellent first step.

1. Get all the apps and temptations off your desktop and off the favorites menu. If you can’t see them, your temptation to cut over to a social media will be mitigated by the brief seconds it will take to boot it up. It gives self-control a fighting chance by removing the spontaneity of your actions.

2. If you can afford more than one computer, try setting up a laptop for work only. Keep the games off the machine and don’t even put your browser on the desktop. Keep it hidden from view. Once again, you’re giving self-control a chance to react before you spontaneously act.

3. Fight fire with fire. There is software available, like Freedom, that you can program to block the apps that distract you for periods of time. They have a recurring scheduling feature that lets you match the blocking session for the time period designated for work. The common factor here is to give your brain time to process self-control over spontaneity.

Keep up the good fight fellow Yolo’ers. Find work that excites your brain and keep the dopamine streaming .

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  1. Carces G.
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    Admin of Smart Investment

    I never thought of this one but I actually have experienced this one too. There are times when I feel productive but the truth is that I am not. I will make use of these tips of yours Jim. Thanks!

  2. Opondo M
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    Admin of Healthy Freelancing

    This actually brings me to the point that when you do something you enjoy, you can execute it fully without much distraction compared to a chore that bores you. Good points worth giving a thought.