Procrastination Might Be Good For Us

Following Covid I have spoken with so many people who, even now, are having problems getting going again. For some their is a frustration with their life for others it is that feeling of they simply can’t be bothered. For many trying to get their work life balance back is proving difficult. Working from home can be a challenge when it is easier to stay in bed, sit in the garden or engage in your favourite hobby rather than doing the work that you are being paid for. While I get all this I want to make a positive stand for doing nothing as being a good thing.

There is never a point in life when we are doing nothing. It may feel like it but consciousness is always at work even if we are unaware of it. The part that is working that we don’t realise is termed the subconscious, it is below our awareness but it is still there.

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 the person who is being still and apparently doping nothing who is seeing the real world and making the breakthroughs in life, science, art or literature. The person who always needs to be busy is often avoiding dealing with difficult issues. Their business blanks out difficult emotions of decision rather like an anaesthetic. The busy person who avoids dealing with issues by continually doing other things is often less productive than people that we might describe as procrastinators.

If you break down the word Pro = forward, future… Crastinus = tomorrow

Manyana, in Spanish, simple means tomorrow. As a slang term it is used to mean…

“we don’t need to do that now it can wait until tomorrow”.

For many people 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. But these may be the people who appear to be busy but are avoiding doing what needs to be done.

Sometime the feeling of procrastination is an emotional barometer that tells you whether what you are doing is what you should be doing. Lack of drive and enthusiasm maybe be because your are bored or simply in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Giving your self time to think a about it and reflect may help you discover what is it that you really want from your life. Then you just might feel like enthusiastically getting on with it.

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 be?, well yes. It is then that we can our see procrastination might just be that our system trying to tell us something.

The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.
Author Unknown

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.
Robert Benchley

Displacement activity is something that you do to avoid doing what you don’t want to do, or a way of not dealing with a difficult situation, like being busy. 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.
Author Unknown

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 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 and when you are doing nothing enjoy it.

Sean x

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