¿Quién no ha intentado buscar la tan ansiada concentración en el más absoluto de los silencios, sólo para darse cuenta que la ausencia total de sonido puede ser tan perjudicial para enfocarnos como el más feroz de los ruidos? Por eso, los muchachos de Coffitivity crearon un sitio que permite reproducir el sonido ambiente de bares, cafés y demases espacios públicos donde la concentración parece aumentar considerablemente.

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Bajo el lema “Enough noise to work”, Coffitivity puede ser usado online o descargarse en dispositivos Apple para potenciar nuestra creatividad aún sin conexión. Además de los distintos audios que el sitio ofrece, como el “Morning Murmur” o el “University Undertones”, directo desde el café de un campus universitario, permite subir la grabación de nuestro bar favorito, para sentirse como en la esquina de casa, desde cualquier lugar del mundo.

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Some years ago, the economist George Akerlof found himself faced with a simple task: mailing a box of clothes from India, where he was living, to the United States. The clothes belonged to his friend and colleague Joseph Stiglitz, who had left them behind when visiting, so Akerlof was eager to send the box off. But there was a problem. The combination of Indian bureaucracy and what Akerlof called “my own ineptitude in such matters” meant that doing so was going to be a hassle—indeed, he estimated that it would take an entire workday. So he put off dealing with it, week after week. This went on for more than eight months, and it was only shortly before Akerlof himself returned home that he managed to solve his problem: another friend happened to be sending some things back to the U.S., and Akerlof was able to add Stiglitz’s clothes to the shipment. Given the vagaries of intercontinental mail, it’s possible that Akerlof made it back to the States before Stiglitz’s shirts did.

There’s something comforting about this story: even Nobel-winning economists procrastinate! Many of us go through life with an array of undone tasks, large and small, nibbling at our conscience. But Akerlof saw the experience, for all its familiarity, as mysterious. He genuinely intended to send the box to his friend, yet, as he wrote, in a paper called “Procrastination and Obedience” (1991), “each morning for over eight months I woke up and decided that the next morning would be the day to send the Stiglitz box.” He was always about to send the box, but the moment to act never arrived. Akerlof, who became one of the central figures in behavioral economics, came to the realization that procrastination might be more than just a bad habit. He argued that it revealed something important about the limits of rational thinking and that it could teach useful lessons about phenomena as diverse as substance abuse and savings habits. Since his essay was published, the study of procrastination has become a significant field in academia, with philosophers, psychologists, and economists all weighing in. Leer el resto de esta entrada »

We both have psychotherapy practices in Los Angeles, which means we treat many creative people. Do you know when these people display the highest degree of creativity? It’s not when they perform, write, or sing; it’s when they make up excuses to postpone doing the things they should — even when those things are crucial to their future.

This tendency to procrastinate isn’t limited to Hollywood. Everyone avoids taking action — going to the gym, sticking to a diet, introducing yourself to someone you’re interested in, tackling a difficult assignment at work. Less obvious examples include apologizing to someone, telling a friend your idea for a new business, asking someone in your family for financial help, and so on.

The Real Reason We Procrastinate

The list of things we can procrastinate about is endless, but the list of reasons for why we procrastinate is not. We avoid every task for the same reason: Taking action will cause us a certain amount of pain. To understand this concept, close your eyes and try the following:

Think of an action you’ve been avoiding. It could be any of the examples we’ve given or something that’s specific to your life. Imagine yourself starting to take that action. You’re going to feel something unpleasant. Concentrate on what you feel.

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I was going to tackle my procrastination problem last weekend but I never got around to it.

By Sunday at 5:48 p.m. I realized I had blown it again. Throughout the week I feel like I barely have enough time to cook, eat, tidy up, write an article and do the odd errand. I lean towards the weekend, when I have two whole days to finally get some work done. To improve my blog, to catch up on my correspondence, to get some monkeys off my back like fixing things that need fixing, organizing things that need organizing, tackling things that need tackling.

But the weekends go by and I never catch up. I don’t use the time well. Time is not what I’m short on, even though that’s what I tell myself all week.

Sometimes I do sit down early in the day and pound something out, but then I give myself a well-deserved break and that’s usually the end of any productivity. I end up clicking around on the internet, then clean up, then cook something, then watch a bit of a documentary online, then try to work again, then get distracted. Then I decide to wait until after supper to do some work, then I start reading something after supper, then if I’m still home, it’s already after 9:00 so I decide I’ll get an early start the next day. Leer el resto de esta entrada »