So here we are in the New Year. The world is all new and starting afresh. We even have a post Brexit Britain to look forward to – or so some people think – we will see. Anyway, I have heard a few people telling me that this year they just can’t seem to get going. These sentiments come with a mix of guilt and the admitting procrastination. I don’t really see the issue. In a world when we seem to be obsessed with doing things and have generally lost the art of simply just being anyone who dares to sit and relax, reflect or even meditate can be accused of procrastination. But, what about if the art of being was what we were really meant to be doing and not physically and practically moving things about to create the illusion that we have value? In the current climate it is so easy to assume that the person who does not need to do and move things about is a waster and of little use. However, procrastination might even be a celebration that might reduce stress, anxiety and even create more happiness?
You see that even when we are doing nothing we are really 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, human consciousness and compassion that might just save the world.
If you break down the word procrastination you get Pro = forward, future… Crastinus = tomorrow. For many procrastination simply means to delay not that the person will not complete the task. To procrastinate does not make the person lazy they may simply be the type who considers before they act. This may give their action more meaning and values than if they simply acted in a quick but meaningless response.
However, laziness does exist. There are people who are really lazy and do as little as possible. In our busyness to keep doing we may no longer be able to tell the differences. Sometimes, if you are feeling like procrastinating and putting things off it maybe an emotional barometer that tells you whether what you are doing is what you really should be doing. It may help you discover what is it that you really want from your life. It is time to reflect.
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. Procrastination may not be 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 really 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
the are 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.
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’. 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 the live in the present question ‘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, focus on and use effectively.
I’d like to procrastinate but I just can’t seem to be bothered
Take care and live in the present and enjoy your procrastination.