Day 2: The 365 Day Writing Challenge – Why Do I Procrastinate?
Most proponents and promoters of time management will suggest procrastination is your enemy.
Why do we procrastinate?
In the moment of making a decision about something, knowing that it’s inherently is good for us, we recoil, sit on the fence.
Why is that?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines procrastination as follows;
The act of delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring
Procrastination can be further explained as wasting time, faffing about, or doing the pleasurable things in favour of doing more difficult things.
This is a popular view but I don’t agree.
I’m Procrastinating? Says who?
Everyone else seems to know exactly how we should behave and live. And their universal view points really piss me off.
What do these people know about me and you?
I’ll tell you. Nothing.
As a result of these blanket generalisations, most of us seem to believe this oversimplified, complete misunderstanding of what procrastination is.
We assign it as a trait of the indecisive and unreliable person. We assign it to ourselves then beat ourselves up for delaying decisions.
We trawl through the internet for cures.
Self help articles with rubbish advice for how to beat procrastination and get our lives moving in the right direction are everywhere.
Mostly written it has to be said, by youthful and inexperienced types, or some fucker in a suit that wants to sell advertising space.
Because you see, he knows that most of us believe the rubbish we read about our behaviour.
Take a breath…
Before assigning these phony traits verbatim, ask yourself; what’s behind this advice? What’s their motivation?
I’ve found it’s not always an honorable one. At best it's cheap copycat material.
Procrastination Is Not A Constant
Procrastination is not the same for everyone and it doesn’t have to be a problem. For the most part it appears to me to be a sign that something is missing from the process.
At worst it may be a sign that we’re suffering from stress or anxiety to some degree — fear of a negative outcome.
Most of the time these fearful feelings are irrational. The future hasn’t happened yet, and in fact never gets here at all.
The future doesn’t exist. Time is an illusion.
To dread a particular future outcome may in fact bring it on rather than help us avoid it.
I know it’s trendy these days especially with the growth of mindfulness, but if we take time out from making decisions then we get to see that all there is, is now.
In everything there are cycles and humans are not living outside of that system, we are an integral part of it.
How I Understand It
I've had periods of fast movement, quick decisions and favourable outcomes. Being on-the-ball so to speak.
These periods lasted a considerable length of time, years in fact.
Then there was a lengthy lull in progress. I sat on my hands for a long time.
Looking in from the outside it could have been considered that I was unmotivated, lazy, avoiding the important decisions. But that's an oversimplification of what was really going on.
From the inside I have to say that some part of me did insist that I get my finger out and start doing.
But it wasn't the right time. Any time I did move to do something I didn't get very favourable results.
This was a real problem because I was used to doing.
I've come to understand that there are times for doing and there are times for not, and to force things before you are ready only makes things worse.
The Solution To Procrastination
Telling yourself or someone else to “just get on with it” is like telling a person suffering with depression to snap out of it – it doesn't work.
The solution for procrastination is not a simple case of getting your finger out. If you are procrastinating then it's likely there is something missing from your process.
It's when something doesn't feel right, know what I mean?
Intuitively something doesn't feel right. So this time spent sitting on the fence is important and for some of us it could last years.
In truth we can feel when the time is right, but we've got to trust ourselves. We got to acknowledge that there is something else at work outside or beyond our conscious awareness of it.
Some people like to call this God, and that's fine if you do, but be careful not to assign all responsibility to an outside force.
In reality the force that we can harness is inextricably linked to us and we get to use it to our advantage when we don't force things and go with the flow of it.
I am a Star Wars fan. In particular I'm a Yoda fan. Well not fan but rather admirer.
Yoda says; “use the force”.
That's what I'm talking about here.
Trust yourself to make the right decisions.
What To Do Now
It's got to be alright.
We can't look at other people's progress in a thing and beat ourselves up for not being there. Or, beat ourselves up for not being in the place we think we should be.
It's completely counter productive.
Looking outside ourselves and expecting to find the solution or obtain some positive direction is a fallacy.
All the answers are internal.
I'll suggest that we should take the time where nothing seems to be happening and chill the fuck out.
Give yourself a break. when the time is right you'll know it.
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Donna Marsh says
Good stuff! 100% agree. “Shoulds” can be paralyzing ….far more than the “evil” procrastination! Looking forward to more of your writing.
Hi Donna, thanks for taking the time to read. I write and publish here pretty much every Sunday so keep an earball out for those articles. There’s a podcast too which I try to get out couple times per week.
Stay in touch!