I’ve posted more than a few times about procrastination. Here. Here. And even here.
Maybe that’s because I’ve believed that those who procrastinate, including me, need to find some way to manage the whole “I don’t really wanna do that right now” thing.
Or maybe us procrastinators are just getting a bad rap.
These old adages still count for a lot it seems.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
He who hesitates is lost.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Tomorrow is the busiest time of the week.
But what if I told you procrastination could be fun and creative and bring with it all kinds of benefits?
You wouldn’t believe me?
Then listen up.
The major causes of procrastination
It’s easier not to
Even though Jim Rohn tells us it’s as easy to do something as to not do it. That really isn’t true for most people. It’s much easier not to…at least in that moment.
It’s your energy
All kinds of things sap our energy, from not feeling well to just being exhausted from too many things to do. Surprise, surprise this leads to putting our dreams on hold!
You feel challenged
We need to take a class, or hone a skill so it’s too challenging to even start. Maybe something will show up later. (You’re on the right track here, even if you don’t realise it…read on.)
You’re a perfectionist. Or in some cases (yes, me) a sort of recovering perfectionist. So what do we do? We put stuff off till everything seems perfect. Though of course it never does, it never is, and it never can be.
Anyone for failure?
This is the perfectionist’s best friend; fear of failure. You are overwhelmed because what if you put in all that work and it doesn’t pan out? What if you’re an abject failure? And this ego construct can stop you in your tracks.
So now’s a good time to turn towards positive procrastination. The place were you can see how to make procrastination work for you. Where you find out how easy it is to make that old challenge of procrastination work for you and not against you.
And it’s where the fun part comes in.
Yes there is such a thing. Who knew?
You have no idea what this is, right?
Wrong. You’ve probably done it without being aware it had a name. I know I have.
Pre-crastination is the opposite of procrastination. It’s the tendency to get things done asap merely for the sake of getting them out of the way..
Like answering emails straight away without thought…me for sure! Or paying bills before checking that they’re correct. You get the picture.
More old adages surface with this one, none of which are helpful in making procrastination work for you!
Look before you leap.
Marry in haste, repent in leisure.
He who hesitates is lost.
You probably know some old adages just like these. If you do I’d love to take a look at them in the comments below.
Understanding that pre-crastination stems from the desire to feel accomplished even in some small way can help you make procrastination work for you.
You can feel you’ve accomplished something by taking the biggest thing you’ve been procrastinating over and turn it into a number of smaller tasks.
If you can just get one of those smaller tasks done, then bingo, you’ve started on the very thing that you were stuck on. That’s a big deal.
Sometimes it’s all about waiting for the magic.
Think Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He used to say that new melodies would come to him whilst he was in a restaurant, or walking or getting ready to sleep.
He has been quoted as saying “It is impossible to say whence they come to me and how they arrive; what is certain is that I cannot make them come when I wish.”
Maybe it’s time to stop struggling and get in touch with creative procrastination and magical new ideas.
Make sure you expect them…it helps to pave the way. They might come when you’re taking a shower, or making a cup of coffee or just before you fall asleep.
Divergent thinking totally supports making procrastination work for you
Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, Stanford researchers, found that walking boosts divergent thinking creating the space for fresh and innovative perspectives to bubble to the surface.
Your subconscious is always at work on your behalf, helping you become more productive and showing you the world through fresh eyes.
Why feel stuck when you have a subconscious mind raring to help you manage your challenges?
I like to take what I call ‘quiet time’ each day, which for me works in the same way as walking does. Usually between 2 or 3pm when afternoon lethargy sets in, I take myself off to lie down and begin making mental affirmations.
They’re never about the challenge I might be facing…I don’t want my conscious mind involved in this experience at all!
I soon find myself in that place close to sleep, without actually falling asleep and that’s when the bubbles of new ideas pop into my head. Not every time, I’m only human! But often enough to make it worth my while.
The ‘getting going’ ritual
Procrastination can become a habit. A way of being in the world, but as author Charles Duhigg tells us in The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business.
“Habits aren’t destiny. They can be ignored, changed or replaced. But the reason the discovery of the habit loop is so important is that it reveals a basic truth: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks, so unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically. However… learning the structure of the habit loop makes them easier to control.”
If you want to make getting going a heckuva lot easier, set up a fun ritual and make that first step towards forming a new, ‘getting it done’ habit.
Maybe you want to surf facebook, or pinterest, or something else that interests you. Or maybe you just want a treat of some kind.
Connect this to getting going.
Here’s a handy tip…you could set a timer and give yourself permission to do whatever it is that feels good and make up your mind that when the timer goes off you’re going to do X Y or Z. Whatever that is for you.
I used a similar practice to give up smoking a million years ago!
The lesson I learned was not to push myself through not procrastinating, but have a simple ritual to just get going.
Making procrastination work for you the easy and effective way
Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation:
“My best trick is to play my projects off against each other, procrastinating on one by working on another.”
Sounds a bit weird I know.
But the point, according to Dr Steel is that “we are willing to pursue any vile task as long as it allows us to avoid something worse.”
You’ve proved to yourself that the tasks in hand aren’t insurmountable. That’s a win.
It feels good.
And when you feel good, you’re more likely to want to get things done. We know, at least I think we know that changing our mood changes our mind.
So add that to the list of things to do to support you to become a positive procrastinator.
And here it is in a nutshell:
Understand why you might be procrastinating
Learn how pre-castination might help
Practice creative procrastination
Put your best foot forward into divergent thinking
Find your most fun ‘getting going ritual’
Procrastinate the easy and effective way
4 thoughts on “Procrastination: Here’s How To Make It Work For You”
Great ideas here, Elle! I’m very much a person who works by inspiration so yes, I’m the one who needs to go for a walk or take a nap. Chances are, I’ll feel a bolt of inspiration and then be unstoppable. Procrastination has worked for me too. Thanks for all these great ideas to work with procrastination. I loved the title of this post.
I totally get it Sandra, as you no doubt can tell by my experiences. I thought it was time someone wrote about procrastination not always being such a bad thing and there were ways we could make it work for us.
Wow!! This hits home for me. I’ve been a procrastinator for the past few years now. I don’t like it. I’m not getting things done that needs to be done. One of the things I have not gotten done, that I don’t want to do, is to file for a divorce from my husband. We would have been married for 38 years in August, but we’ve been separated three times, already.
In doing so, I find, I’m having a hard time, in moving forward with my own life in order for my sons to move on with theirs However, I have a 36 year old son, who has autism, and I was told, I would have him to take care of for the rest of my life. I want to enjoy my own life. I can’t do this, when, I have someone who has a disability in the home. Or, can I?
At one point, I use to think, I can easily, think for myself, but now, I’, finding, my sons are having to think for me. I don’t like that one bit.
I am a chronic procrastinator. How can I stop this bad and destructive habit? Please, tell me.
Hi Teresa, I get it about being a procrastinator. And I would definitely do the same thing as I mentioned in a previous response to you. May you find your ideal way to make procrastination work for you.