Even when we are doing nothing we are doing something. To the person who always needs to be busy, someone who meditates or simply stops long enough to enjoy the view, may be seen as a procrastinator. Yet, perhaps it’s the person who is being still and apparently doing nothing who is seeing the real world and making the breakthroughs in science art or literature.
If you break down the word Pro = forward, future… Crastinus = tomorrow
For many, procrastination simply means to delay. That does not make the person lazy they may simply be the type who considers before they act. However, that does not mean that there aren’t people who are really lazy and do as little as possible. Sometime the feeling of procrastination is an emotional barometer that 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. Do you have problems getting out of bed? Well no. Now, imagine that you are waking to a day full of things that you don’t want to do. Do you have problems getting out of bed? Well yes. 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 like their work life. I work with thousands of people who wake on a Monday with the dread of another week in their workplace. 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 now escape will displace this energy of fear into the activity of washing itself. Charlotte in her blog post 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 with ideas like ‘life is hard’, ‘life is earnest’ and ‘everyone has their cross to bear’. Well I don’t buy any of that, I am in the school of 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, and 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 the, soon to be released, audio podcasts.
In the end 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. So there may be times when procrastination is really something we should celebrate.
I’d like to procrastinate but I can’t be bothered
Take care and live in the present