Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Procrastination

Image result for procrastinating
Interesting little quiz in the Guardian Small Business Network this week.

I had what could be described as up and down results in the quiz.  According to them I’m doing some things right to avoid procrastination and others quite wrong. The premise does seem to be that there are obvious times throughout the day when procrastination is like a siren song, drawing you into its velvet clutches.

Of course, it’s a relatively superficial quiz but it did get me thinking about the whys and wherefores of procrastination.

Is it really such a bad thing?

I think there are different levels of procrastination

There’s the extreme procrastination where inertia sets in and nothing gets done. This is the under the duvet kind of lethargy that results in paralysis both mental and physical.

There’s the slightly less extreme procrastination where you emerge from under the duvet but your time is generally spent watching day-time or middle of the night TV.

There’s the displacement procrastination where you swap one activity that really does need to be tackled with another, less vital one, say swapping doing your tax return with cleaning the kitchen.

There’s busy-time procrastination where you look really busy and seem to be running around a lot, but truly, nothing is actually getting done.

There’s distraction procrastination where you make phone calls, check emails, play a few computer games, take a walk, all the while fully aware that there are things lurking quite near that need to be handled.

I call this last one ‘conscious procrastination’ and I think it’s the best kind, if you are going to postpone doing the ‘hard’ or must-do’ stuff.  Why I like this kind of stalling tactic is that I find when I consciously choose to do something other than the stuff that needs to be done, I don’t feel guilty. 

My justification is that my unconscious is actually working away whether I’m doing anything productive or not and when I do finally sit down to the pile of stuff I’d been putting off, I don’t feel resentment and I actually feel refreshed. Often, new ideas or ways of handling things will also bubble up.

I do believe that sometimes procrastination comes from having too much to do and putting unrealistic pressure on ourselves to get it all done. If we all practised conscious procrastination, life would be so much less stressful.  We’d be listening to ourselves more and acknowledging that we are indeed only human with only so much capacity.

We should definitely be taking more walks and playing more computer games and I guarantee we’ll all procrastinate less.


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By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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