Now that I've finally got around to writing this article, lets spend a moment - concentrate - to focus on procrastination. We all do it, some of us are much more skilled at it than others, in fact some of us are so good at procrastinating we have made it into an art form. Let's take a minute before we start, to check out some definitions of procrastination from the dictionaries.
- To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.
- To postpone or delay needlessly.
- to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.
It all sounds a bit one-sided don't you think? Why does it have to start normally - To put of doing something (and then just drop the last word on you)...needlessly! It is called PROcrastination not ANTIcrastination. Is it really so terrible that we should make ourselves feel guilty about delaying the pile of washing in the laundry and that stack of dishes from lunch time?
Profile Of "The Procrastinator"
Often hailing from a long lineage of procrastinator's. It is not unusual to find this person deep in thought about what they'd be doing, if they weren't so busy thinking about it. For someone inclined to procrastinate, they can often feel immense pressure from the world around them. Expectations from others threaten to pull them out of their thought stream and in to action. Even if someone offers them something pleasant like... an invitation for an afternoon of sunshine and a beautiful picnic at the park , it is very likely to be answered with "oh can I get back to you later about that". Why? Because it's almost second nature that they must think about everything very thoroughly before making a decision. In among all the busyness, craziness and things that need to be done in life, "the procrastinator" can often be found sitting quietly, seemingly lost in concentration on some unrelated activity, whilst surrounded by other people all doing the opposite and being busy . Often mislabeled as lazy and undisciplined, could it be that procrastinator's and procrastination are just misunderstood?
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The Professionals Say?
Psychology today believes that there are a number of reasons existing that cause people to procrastinate, some of the most common ones being -
- Fear of Failure - why make the effort when you feel you will surely fail?
- Fear of Success - because it leads to greater expectations from people and more responsibilities.
- Perfectionism - Having to live up to very high standards set on yourself. You know the saying...If it can't be done properly...
Why do we have to make life so hard by putting so much pressure on ourselves? This life is always going to be in a state of flux. We are raised in a society that has so many expectations and is in such a hurry to finish everything and move on to the next best thing and the next project to bring in the money. Is it possible that if we learn to give peace a higher priority over living up to our perceived view of what we should be doing and how we should be acting within our society, that we could let some of the steam out of the pressure pot? A lot of our compulsion to do things is coming from ingrained learned behaviours and outside pressurised influences. The problem is that it is these pressures that can cause the feelings of stress, guilt and under achievement. Is it any wonder we procrastinate?
What is really interesting is the way that we view procrastination. Our body is trying to take time out from the constant stream of stress by doing nothing, so what do we do next, we begin to stress about the fact that we are doing nothing! To lighten up the situation a little, let's have a look at the comical "Procrastinator's Creed".
The Procrastinator's Creed
- I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.
I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect from missing them.
I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.
I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable, regardless of the amount of time given.
I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitely small, is not exactly zero.
If at first I don't succeed, there is always next year.
I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.
I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work is that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.
I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.
I will never put off tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.
I will become a member of the ancient Order of Two-Headed Turtles (The Procrastinator's Society) if they ever get it organized.
- Author unknown
Advantages To Procrastinating
It can't all be bad can it? Speaking from the position of being a "professional procrastinator", it often seems that surrounding myself with procrastination motivators (such as T.V, radio, smart phone, music, food and drink supplies etc) actually relaxes me enough to think more clearly and in turn work more efficiently, giving better end results. I complete projects, with less stress and more enjoyment and relaxation this way. Personally if I sit down purely and totally focused on achieving that one goal, with no distraction or leeway, I'm rarely successful and certainly don't produce my best work. It's extremely common to see people working in jobs that are obviously making them physically and mentally sick. A lot of problems come about by the way we order our life's priorities, the "hierarchy" so to say. Thinking about what is really important to you is essential when it comes to finding peace, happiness and healthy productivity. Aren't health and happiness at the top of that priority list? It is becoming more common to see workplaces actually factoring this into their work environment and providing facilities for their workers to take time, feel at home and make their employees health and wellness the number one priority. These work places have facilities like meditation rooms, gyms, recreation areas to play table tennis and pool, brain training games, bikes, swimming pools, mental and physical health facilities etc. The whole emphasis is on removing stress and expectations to in turn receive happy workers and exceptional work outcomes.
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- Ajahn Brahm
Do you try to manipulate the universe or can you let the universe manipulate you. Procrastination (in a sense) hails from a very eastern approach about the natural order of the universe, which in turn creates the correct timing. Everything right now is exactly as it should be! What you have and what you are doing, is good enough.
Sometimes it really is for our benefit to just do nothing and you shouldn't have to feel guilty about that.
"It is finished! What is done... is finished". - Thai Buddhist Monk