In today’s age of digital distraction, keeping to commitments in a timely manner has become increasingly difficult. But what would our lives be like if we could stop our procrastinating habits? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are once again joined by memory and learning expert Jim Kwik for some simple, powerful techniques that will change your mentality to help you get things done.
Tana Amen: Welcome back, again. Thanks for staying with us. We are still here with Jim Kwik, founder of Kwik Learning.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, in the few minutes we have left, let's talk about procrastination. It is so common among all of us that people tend not to do things until someone else is mad at them. And you often get mad at yourself. I wanted to start the diet. I wanted to start exercises. I wanted to get the taxes done on time.
Jim Kwik: I want to go to sleep earlier. I want to do all these things. Yeah, why do we sabotage? Why do we put things off? Why do we not do the things that would be good for us?
And so I'll give a couple of really quick tips for everyone listening. When you think about something maybe you've been putting off a number of ways to be able to overcome it. I think one of the first places to start, you're so good at procrastinating, maybe procrastinate procrastinating. Put off this thing called putting things off.
But all seriousness, there's something call [inaudible 00:12:08] effect, where this psychologist in Europe when she was at the café noticed that the waitstaff would remember all the orders. Have you ever had a waiter or waitress like this? Until they were delivered. And once they were delivered they would forget it. And her last name was [inaudible 00:12:23]. They called it [inaudible 00:12:24] effect. Basically the brain doesn't like open loops. It tends to focus on something until it's closed. And so the idea with procrastination is to start somewhere, but anywhere, because the idea is just creating momentum. You start somewhere, your brain's more likely to be able to close that loop.
Tana Amen: Ah, that's interesting.
Jim Kwik: The second thing I would say is to begin ... We talked about this. Start with Why. A lot of people don't do the thing they need to do because they're not connected to the purpose of doing it.
Tana Amen: No emotion.
Jim Kwik: Exactly. When you think about motivation, the motive for taking action, why must you do this? That's a powerful question. It's like you know you should exercise today and then list all the reasons why because I do believe, even when you're remembering names I do this whole program on how to remember names and faces, if you just ask yourself why do I want to remember this person's name. Maybe it's to show the person respect. Maybe they can be a friend. Maybe it's to do some business. Maybe it's to practice these things I learned. Motivation, because if you can't come up with one reason, you're not going to remember because reasons reap results.
Tana Amen: Agree.
Jim Kwik: So that would be the second thing, is if you're procrastinating write down and really feel all the reasons that you would need to be able to complete this thing. And then another way of approaching procrastination is to be kind to yourself. Research done in the area of self-compassion shows that when you beat yourself up when you eat something bad or you don't do the workout that day, it actually mitigates your ability to follow through in the future. You think that beating yourself up-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, you're more likely to drink. You're more likely to eat bad food. You're more likely to self-soothe the pain than do the thing that makes you feel better.
Jim Kwik: Absolutely. And when you're kind to yourself on the other side, you're more likely to follow through. If you're kind to yourself, meaning, "Hey, I'm human. I'm not perfect. It's okay I missed my workout today." You're more likely to follow through tomorrow. So kindness goes a long way.
Tana Amen: What would you say to people, 'cause I recently heard this. Maybe this has been going around for a long time and I just recently heard it. And I was like, "What?" What would you say to people who say the reason they procrastinate is because they feel the most creativity when they're under pressure so they wait until the last minute.
Jim Kwik: So when we study creativity constraints actually are powerful. Constraints drive commitment. When you have a certain amount of money or a certain amount of time, it drives commitment, it drives concentration because you have to focus. And it also drives a level of creativity because you have to ...
So, I believe that when you have certain constraints ... Like if you have to write a book, but you've given five years for it and there's never any kind of urgency. Just like when we have our taxes, obviously this week. So in terms of procrastination, procrastinate procrastinating. Break things down into tiny bits. It's a study of tiny habits done by Dr. BJ Hogg, right?
It's if you want to get somebody to floss, because we know that's good for your longevity, it's maybe just floss one tooth. Just like if someone wants to read 45 minutes a day, maybe don't read 45 minutes a day. Maybe just read one sentence. Because nobody's going to stop at one sentence; you develop positive momentum.
But the last thing I would say besides the finding your why and kindness, is understanding why we procrastinate. Most people, and this will be the big take away for a lot of people who are listening or watching, most people are trying to use willpower to force themselves to change a behavior, either adopt a new behavior or subtract. Read to be able to meditate, to be able to journal, to be able to exercise.
But they don't realize there are these invisible forces, it's not just the behavioral 'cause very rarely does willpower work. Above the behavior I would suggest a framework for these level of transformation is the level of capability. Meaning a lot of people maybe want to read more, but they're not a good reader. They don't have the capability, so it's really tiresome for them. They forget what they read. They're a slow reader. Or if maybe their behavior is they want to remember names, but the capability is they're not taught how to remember names.
So you have to address that capability. Above the level of capability, maybe the reason why people don't change a behavior, maybe they are capable of it, but the level above it is the level of beliefs and values. Meaning maybe they want to remember someone's name, they even trained. They watched one of our videos on how to remember names, but their belief is, "I'm not smart enough." Their belief is, "I'm too old." The belief is, "I have a horrible memory."
All behavior is belief driven. It'll change it. Wonder why people don't change their behavior, because it's belief. Or it's a value. Maybe they're not remembering names, but they know how, and they believe they can, but their value is they don't think it's important. So they're not going to execute that behavior and then it'll come out as procrastination or something. Whatever. Above the level of beliefs and values is final level, is this level of identity.
And we've all heard this phrase before, the two most powerful words in the English language are the smallest, I am, because whatever you put after I am determines your life, your destination. So somebody could say their behavior si they want to stop smoking. But their identity is I am a smoker. That's going to be a hard switch. Or they want to stop procrastinating but I am a procrastinator, it's going to be challenge there.
And finally right below the level of behavior, if you're not doing that behavior, check in with the less level on the bottom actually, which is the level of environment. Somebody may want to stop smoking but they're around smokers all the time. People want to stop eating the junk food but their environment, their coworkers are eating all that junk food. And so you need to be able to change that also, as well. And the reason why I bring this up is a lot of people are forcing the behavior when they should be looking at other levels-
Tana Amen: I agree.
Jim Kwik: ... 'cause there could be one level that's holding them back. And then once you know what the level, you know how to address it. Through different modalities. It could be EFT or it could be tapping, self-hypnosis, nutritional support, changing ... And they'll notice the questions are the answer we learn in school that there are five Ws and the H, right? Questions are the answer.
So the reason why this works is because identity answers the question of who. The beliefs and values answers the question of why. The capability answers the question of how. The behavior is what you want to change. And finally the environment just answers the questions on when and where. But when you get all those aligned, then you have this integration and then you just do the things you're supposed to do, be that's who you are.
Tana Amen: That's really good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's so helpful.
Tana Amen: So you have to stop calling me terrifying and scary.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You are.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And this was so helpful.
Tana Amen: That was really good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Kwik Learning, K-W-I-K.
Jim Kwik: KW Learning. Yeah, kwrklearning, which is all our online speed reading, memory enhancement, focus programs, student success programs, and our podcasts quickbrain.com, which is as you have a 10-15 min show where we just get little brain bites for busy people who want learn faster and achieve more.
And then on social media, if people willing to take a challenge and take a screenshot first this video or this podcast and then post it on Twitter, Facebook, or instagram and tag the three of us. I love seeing those stories and share your biggest a-ha, because when you share something you get to learn it twice. And it becomes a part of who are you. And I always repost some of my favorite ones that are out there.
Tana Amen: That's awesome.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Great. Thank you so much.
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warriors Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.