Flipping the script on procrastination…

I was reading a book called “a Mind for Numbers” by Barbara Oakley, Ph.D.Flipping the script on procrastination…

I was only about three chapters into the book but there was one interesting concept that she’s been talking about…🧐

And that's the difference between “focused” and “diffuse” thinking.

Focused thinking is exactly what it sounds like – it’s what happens when you are intensely focused on solving a specific problem.🕵

We all need focused thinking because this is where we zoom directly to the most pertinent information in order to execute a task…

Flipping the script on procrastination…Like solving a math problem, throwing a football, or even the act of writing sales copy.

Meanwhile, diffuse thinking is more about big picture thinking. This mode is all about distractions. In fact, distractions are good.

In diffuse thinking, you let your mind wander freely and make connections at random. 

What’s also interesting is that while focused thinking happens primarily in the prefrontal cortex of the brain…

Diffuse thinking happens all over the brain.

Now normally, diffuse thinking happens while you’re engaged in other activities.

This is the reason why good ideas often come to us in the shower, or when we’re out on a walk, or when we’re driving. 

The brain is not focusing on a specific problem, and yet because your brain is so active, it’s quietly connecting dots in the background and helping you move towards a solution.

So as Dr. Oakley writes in her book, you need both types of thinking to successfully solve problems – whether they be mathematical, intellectual, emotional, or something else.

At first I kind of thought of this distinction as being sort of obvious…

But having had time to practice some diffuse thinking on my own…

I can see that it’s actually very explanatory and also very valuable. 

For example, I’ve often talked about how I get great ideas in the shower…

And it’s no secret that I love taking walks since I end up having a lot of my “aha moments” during them.

This is also why, while RMBC Method allows you to write a full sales letter in as little as one day…

But it is better if you do allow yourself a few weeks on a project. 

For me personally, what I find is that when I’m working on coming up with a unique mechanism…

I’ll go to various websites that are directly related to the problem that the product is trying to solve…

But I’ll also embrace rabbit holes…

And start reading about tangential but not directly related things…

Or watch a YouTube video from an expert in the field, even if that person doesn't appear to be talking about the specific pain point the audience faces.

What I realized today is that during those times, I’m practicing diffuse thinking…

Flipping the script on procrastination…And as I go through this process over the course of several days…

My brain starts making different connections, and synthesizing all of the information I’ve been gathering…

Until suddenly, everything just clicks…

And I’m able to put it all together and write a killer piece of sales copy.

Plus, here’s one more interesting thing I thought about:

There are actually entire weeks where I am focused, and entire weeks where I’m more “diffused.”

Take this particular week for example:

I didn’t have any sales copy that had to get done…

I had a lot of “freedom”…

And yet there were times last week where I felt kind of frustrated…

Because it didn’t seem like I was moving the needle or accomplishing very much.

When this happens, it’s hard not to want to beat yourself up…

Or feel like you’re procrastinating…

And that's how I felt during some stretches last week.

But then one morning, while on a walk, I asked myself an interesting question:

What if last week, and others like it, are times where I’m just practicing diffuse thinking?

As I reflected on this a bit more, it actually really seemed to make sense…

And as a few pieces of anecdotal evidence that support this:

Friday afternoon I had an amazing conversation with Jake Hoffberg and that led me to a big “aha” moment…

Which is that, in addition to Copy Accelerator, I really need to commit to one major area of focus.

Because right now I'm doing stuff like CA, writing copy, growing my personal brand, consulting on various businesses and projects, etc…

And while yes, I’ve been able to get away with all of these things…

I've also found that when I don’t have a sales letter that ‘must' get done in a given week…

I don’t know where I should be spending my time.

So instead, I kind of wander from task-to-task haphazardly…

And then feel frustrated.

Does that make sense?

It’s not that I can’t do CA, focus on one big task, and not still write copy when I want to…

It’s just that, unless I have a clearly prioritized hierarchy…

I’m not going to be as effective as I want to be.

To me, this was an important realization…

Flipping the script on procrastination…And I don’t know if it would have happened if I'd been deeply focused on specific tasks that week…

Instead of being a bit more “all over the place” and “diffused.”

So, from that perspective, that week actually wasn’t a waste at all…

Instead, it was me giving my brain the time it needed to float around…

Collect various pieces of evidence…

And then combine them together to reach an interesting, and potentially life-altering conclusion.

Pretty cool…

And one last note: I've noticed this pattern in my life before…

But the way I used to explain it was as the difference between sprints and downtime.

Sometimes I’d go really hard for a few weeks (sprint)…

Then I’d have a few weeks where I didn’t work as “hard” and got more easily distracted (downtime).

I liked that analogy, but now I'm realizing that it was only partially accurate…

Because it’s not just that those non-sprint weeks are about downtime…

More so, they are about diffuse time….

Where I'm thinking about various ideas…

Reflecting on various ideas..

Generating various ideas…

And connecting all of these ideas together.

So yeah, just wanted to share…

Since maybe this reframe of focused thinking vs. diffuse thinking can be valuable to you as well.

– SPG

P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

0 Comments

© 2020 SPG Educational Resources LLC

Stefan Georgi

Pin It on Pinterest

Want to peek inside the mind of one of the world’s most successful copywriters?


My private email list is where I spill all of my secrets. The tricks and tactics that allow me to create winning sales copy time-and-time-again.

The lessons I've learned while building numerous multi-million-dollar companies. The mindset hacks that allow me to perform at an ultra-high-level day-after-day.

APPLY TO JOIN MY EMAIL LIST NOW