I was going to, but then there was this doco...on squirrels...
the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention: She was smart, but her constant procrastination led her to be late with almost every assignment.
I could be writing some of my assignment (as above). Or reading some journals for uni. Or sleeping (see my article on Insomnia). Clearly, I’m not. Not even close.
Instead I’m writing this article. Which, in the grand scheme of things, ain’t that important at the moment. So why am I doing it?
Well, to be honest, it will become important in a while. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day, or even next week. But it will. I know that it will make up a part of a larger whole that is slowly carving itself a wonderful niche in my life.
But I digress (another form of procrastination!). And the point still stands here; why am I writing this piece as opposed to writing some of my assignment (due in 3 weeks), reading some journal articles (helpful with same), or sleeping (helpful all round, really)?
Because procrastination is easier than actual work. It’s slower, less stressful, takes far less brain power, and has the insidious effect of making you believe it won’t last. It will though. Trust me.
For example, take this article; procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean you choose to do something pointless or without purpose, it just means you’ve decided not to do the thing that requires the most attention, the most important thing, the top of the priority list. Luckily, in this situation, that’s not quite true, but it’s a fine line. If I’m still writing articles at the end of the week, and my assignment is still a bunch of notes with no direction, then I’m in trouble.
That’s procrastination. It usually comes in a series rather than a single event. No one ever procrastinates once, it wouldn’t be procrastination then, it would just be hesitation. And that’s where it gets sinister.
You mistake motion for growth, and are lured into vexing situations. This is one of my favourite quotes and rings true every time I hear it. Procrastination makes you think that because you are getting something done means you are accomplishing something. And that’s where that fine line comes back; surely I’m getting something meaningful done? Surely I’ve achieved something? Bullshit. Plain and simple.
The truth is, that’s complete rubbish and you need to stop it right now. Don’t misunderstand me here; there are exceptions to the rule. Seriously stressful or complicated enough situations that need some consideration, a bit of chill out time and a cuppa do exist. But 9 times out of 10 it won’t be one of them, and telling yourself they are won’t make it so.
So what’s the real appeal then? Procrastination seems like a toxic pastime and highly unhelpful, and yet we all persist at it. Every day, even with the same tasks. What the hell, right?
Think about this though; how much stress and anguish can you take in one day? Better yet, one hour? Really think about it. I know my level is much higher than I thought, though my ability to cope without support gets lower the more stressed I become. And I’m a badass when it comes to a challenge.
So what makes people, even people with confidence such as yours truly, perpetuate this shocking habit? Why wouldn’t I just rise up, take the bull by the horns, and carry on?
Here’s the kicker; I have no idea what my levels are some days. And I’m scared that they won’t be as high as the day before. Or the month before. Or the year. Even though some hard core, nasty stuff went down all that time ago. Stuff that makes what I’m doing now look like papercut to a rhino.
And it really is that clear cut; fear is the key. Straight up, no bullshit. Fear makes us stupid and whiny and really, really lazy. Lack of confidence turns us into vulnerable, timid creatures with no idea what to do or where to go. It needn’t be a lot of fear; a trickle of doubt will do the trick every time.
There is no easy fix for this kind of habit. It’s common, easily communicable, and takes some sincere application to combat. This is one bad habit that can be shared, enabled, and turned into a group activity with enough drive. Sadly, by the time you get to it, the amount of effort required to reverse the effects is high.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Procrastination is easy to kick if you want to ditch it. Note that I say you need to want it. Nothing in life is really worth putting that much hard work and effort in unless you want it. It’s like smokers who say they want to give up, and then go back to smoking time and again. It really is ok to say, ‘I’d like to, but I don’t really want to’, and then see if you can. I get that; smoking for some of you is a special pastime, a quiet vice, and you like it more than you want to admit much of the time. That’s cool. But please don’t say you want to give up. That’s crap and no one is buying it.
The reverse process isn’t fun and it doesn’t always go as well as planned, I won’t lie. But it is worth it. I swear to you. As someone who has procrastinated AND had to take time out, I can tell you it’s more than worth it to figure out which one is actually in play, and sort yourself out.
Stop procrastinating. Take one little step to move away from doing nothing-too-special into doing something worth your time and energy. Aren’t you worth it? I think you are.
Procrastination sucks. Drop a line in the comments and share, maybe someone has a method for coping you haven't heard yet! Good luck :)