Procrastinating My Life Away
The nonsense in my head and what I do about it
Today, I’m writing about Procrastination, laziness and time management. Well, I say “today”, but that’s a relative concept, isn’t it. “Today” was meant to be last Monday, it’s now Thursday. And in unrelated news, my desk is as tidy as it’s been for weeks, my email inbox is empty and I just pulled a magic looking sourdough from the oven an hour ago.
Your business coach wonders: “Am I really the right person to write about procrastination? It’s clearly not one of my strength areas.”
Procrastination, time management and laziness… Tricky topic. On the one hand I’ve written before (here for example), that laziness doesn’t actually exist as a character trait. On the other hand however, some people just seem to get so much done and they’re disciplined and they get their heads down and don’t come up for air until the job is done and then they jump straight into the next thing and get that done too. I even know people who are so disciplined, they consistently don’t look at Facebook until after dinner and every day turn their email off for large blocks of time. Those people are on the Marvel Super Heroes Team in my book: Doctor Discipline or somesuch…
Time to get some nibbles
Hang on, I’m about 200 words into this article… Time to jump up and get some nibbles from the kitchen.
Hi there, I’m back, 2 hrs later, but still.
You see in this case, part of the problem I’m having is that even as a Business coach, I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m going to write. I’m searching for inspiration. I’m waiting for the Muse to strike me. One of my heroes, Oliver Burkeman from the Guardian, however, says in this interview that waiting for the Muse is futile. Just do the thing, sit down and write, and see what happens, says Oliver.
It’s a technique I’ve used, with some success, in the past… But today… Not so much.
Procrastination and perfectionism
Procrastination makes me feel inadequate. There are some fascinating thoughts on procrastination, in this article by Costica Bradatan in the New York Times. According to Costica, procrastination is all about perfectionism. Our Vision is more perfect than the reality can ever be. We fear that the thing we want to create, build or write is going to be a disappointment compared to our vision of it and so we resist creating it. I can sort of understand that, but I don’t think I am a perfectionist. “Close Enough is Good Enough” has generally been my motto in life and consequently I “Get Shit Done”… Not as well done as some others might Get Their Shit Done maybe, but Done nevertheless. I pride myself on my ability to make things happen.
But some things don’t get done that way. The difficult stuff is always the stuff you can’t get done by rolling up your sleeves. The stuff we procrastinate over is the stuff that requires us to be courageous, the stuff that requires us to expose some of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Young Grasshopper gets a kick up the backside
So what’s difficult for me about writing this article and why I think I’ve been procrastinating over it for such a long time, is that I don’t feel qualified to talk about procrastination, because I do so much of it myself. Me writing about procrastination, inefficiency and wasting time is like a junkie writing about heroin addiction.
But hang on… Stop right there young grasshopper. By that logic we should not be allowed to talk about anything we haven’t gained a PHD in. Nonsense, clearly. Maybe being a procrastinator is precisely what qualifies me to write about it. Let’s face it, who wants to get weight loss advice from a supermodel? I’d much rather listen to someone who’s struggled with weight loss as much as I do, and who may have found something that’s helped him. One of the things that makes AA so effective is being with a group of people who “get it”.
So let’s start this whole thing again:
At the AA meeting
Hi my name is Roland and I am a procrastinator…
Here’s what has helped me sometimes, and sometimes not (and then at least I end up with a clean desk)
I’ve learnt is that procrastination is always, a sign for me that there is something else, something unexamined, in the way.
- I don’t know what the actual thing is I’m supposed to be doing
- I’m not sure how to actually go about doing this thing
- The prospect of doing this thing doesn’t excite me
- The consequences of not doing this thing at this moment are not all that bad.
- I don’t have enough confidence in my own abilities, or skill or experience.
(In the case of the procrastination I went through over writing this article it came down to numbers 1 and 5.)
Knowing that that’s how it works for me, I’ve learned that I first need to become aware that I am procrastinating, because sometimes I am avoiding the thing so much I don’t even realise I am procrastinating. And then, once I’ve realised I am procrastinating, ask myself which of those 5 hurdles is getting in my way. In nearly all cases, once I clearly verbalise what is getting in the way of doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing, it disappears. The moment I verbalised my fear of not being credible, because I am procrastinator myself, I realised how silly that fear actually was, the hurdle disappeared, and I could sit down and finish the article into the form you are reading now.
Most procrastination hurdles we throw up for ourselves fade when brought out into the light… I promise you
#TimeManagement #Procrastination #FunInBusiness
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