An Ode to Procrastination
Procrastination has a bad rap. You cannot browse the web without a motivational speaker explaining how procrastination is a form of self-sabotage.
Procrastination is bad. It prevents you from getting what you want. So you wait and wait, things pile up and here you are, overwhelmed and frustrated, missing deadlines and not living the life of your dreams. Hmmm.
I am a master procrastinator. I don’t want to do annoying things (who does?). I can maintain a to-do list to avoid forgetting things, and by some miracle, this list either bothers me or frightens me.
So guess what happens? Everything is on the back burner.
Behind the Behavior
What is behind this behavior?
Am I reluctant to take any action because of a hidden fear?
Could these fears be just thoughts?
As I dug deeper, I realized how attached I was to that thought that I have to do things. No one is putting any pressure on me, except me. How odd, this impression that I feel obligated to fulfill duties that I don’t even have.
What is important to me, at this stage?
Getting my business running smoothly, making sure my family has what they need, taking care of my body, of my health, in no order.
If I change my way of thinking, could these tedious tasks be just means to an end of my choice?
Eyes on the Prize!
Eyes on the Prize I hear in my head, Eyes on the Prize!
That week in question, I happened to have several crucial administrative tasks to do for my business. A good time to test my motivation.
I generally hate anything admin, I get into various states of fear, feeling not in control, being scared of what the outcome will be.
What was hidden behind my fear this time? Not that hard to figure out it turned out.
I had to deal with admin processes in several occasions in my life. Moving to the UK then to the US wasn’t without headaches, from installing basic utilities, to renting an apartment and whatnots. It all worked out at the end, but it wasn’t without unpleasant loops of getting paperwork and documents aligned, and each time in a different way.
That part of me resisting dealing with “must do’s” was scared of the outcomes not turning out my way, of me having to run around and trying to figure things out because no one else would.
Part of me thinks the world is not a safe place to be, another part doesn’t trust people to do the right thing.
At the end, it’s just my perception and me generalizing what happened in the past. So much for “past performances are not an indicator for future ones.”
What if I decided to give people the benefit of the doubt and when possible, see any transaction as a form of communication?
I must confess, it’s still hard sometimes to keep my cool, but at least, the experience doesn’t automatically turn unpleasant for either of us involved, because this time, I didn’t come into that transaction with a heavy baggage of frustration and anxiety.
Waiting for the Right Time
During that round of self-discovery, I also discovered that I had that tendency to put off for later certain things that I otherwise enjoyed doing.
Now that’s something to explore too! And here, my behavior was not moved by fear, but very simply, by a lack of inspiration.
I finally got to understand and accept that at least for me, procrastination is another way to let my process of creation take form in my head, letting my mind put all the elements in place and then having that idea mature.
And it worked.
By accepting that procrastination is my way of letting ideas mature, I allowed myself more time and more importantly, to understand that there is a wisdom inside of me that would rather have me do nothing than do things half baked, which is very much against my core values.
So you’ll tell me, how do I get to do the things that are annoying me?
I negotiate with myself, I give myself a deadline, I agree I am in no state to deal with this thing, but I am not going to let it poison me. So I will forget about it for the moment and on the agreed date and time, I will get it sorted. And it worked!
How do you deal with your annoying to-do’s? What does your procrastination hide? How do you deal with it?
So many Tedx Talks about the subject! Enjoy!
This one opened my mind on seeing procrastination differently:
Adam Grant: “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers”
This one is a lot of fun and explains what’s going on in a procrastinator’s mind.