Procrastination is an emotional barometer. It tells you whether what you are doing is what you should be doing. It will help you discover what it is that you really want from your life.
Imagine that when you wake you are about to go and do something that makes you feel good. Would you have trouble getting out of bed? No!
Now, imagine that you are waking to a day full of things that you don’t want to do. Will you have problems getting out of be? Sure you will. We often see procrastination as a bad thing but it might just be that our need to procrastinate is our system trying to tell us something.
The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.
In the West we tend to be driven by what is termed ‘the Protestant work ethic‘. Most people work long hours to the exclusion of family, friends and their own life and fulfilment. Yet very few people actually enjoy their work life. I’ve worked with thousands of people who wake on a Monday filled with the dread at the thought of another week at work. They would rather be doing anything else. Procrastination does not always mean to do nothing, doing something else instead is often termed ‘displacement‘.
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.
Displacement activity is something that you do to avoid doing what you don’t want to do, or a way of dealing with a difficult situation. For example a rabbit that is cornered and is about to be eaten by a fox and knowing there is no escape will displace this energy of fear into the activity of washing itself.
Charlotte suggests that displacement activity might actually be productive and fun.
In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing more urgent actions with tasks less urgent, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.
The clue in this definition is ‘enjoyment’. The protestant work ethic goes alongside ideas like, ‘life is hard’, ‘life is earnest’ and ‘everyone has their cross to bear’.
Well I don’t buy any of that. Life should be fun and life should be fulfilling. It seems that we have no problem finding the energy to do things that we do want to do, things that make us feel good. While, those things that we don’t want to do sap our energy and take away our motivation.
My approach to life is that when I feel the need to procrastinate or displace, I look at, and enjoy the process, whilst at the same time I look at what I need to do with my life so that I feel engaged and connected and restore the balance between what I need to do and what I want to do. This is often described as ‘work life balance‘. Ed and I will be talking about this topic in one of our soon to be released audio podcasts.
Ultimately, if you are living the life that you really want the issues of procrastination and displacement do not exist because you are enjoying and fulfilling yourself in the present moment so that getting out off bed on any day (even Monday!) is never a problem.
The best way to get something done is to begin.
That comes back to what do you really, really, really want to do with your life. Until you answer this question you will be forever procrastinating and displacing. Becoming aware of when and why you procrastinate will help you answer the question of what do you really want?
Take care and live in the present,