Today’s #21daysofWriting topic has been offered by the inimitable Michelle Parry Slater who has, in the years that I’ve known her, shown me great kindness and made me think.
Procrastination:to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.
“I know I’ve got to deal with the problem at some point – I’m just procrastinating.” Cambridge English Dictionary
“Procrastination is the thief of time” – My Granny
Procrastination – the art of putting off until tomorrow that which should be done today. I have to say, I’m a fan. It’s a word I don’t think we hear often anymore – much more likely to hear about to-do lists, targets, achievements and stuff. The art of postponement – of waiting until later, of not rushing around like a loony – I sense it’s not fashionable & a little frowned up. There seems to be a lot of value placed on Doing and being responsible and behaving as expected.
Where you do see folk take time out – refuse to be plugged in or follow the expected rhythm of “getting stuff done” – it still can have a “I’m doing this because it must be done. It’s Self Care. I’ve scheduled some Downtime/Metime” slightly striving sense to it. Like we need to justify being a bit bloody slow, or unarsed, or lazy or self-loving.
Because somethings are truly awful to do. Insurance renewal, any single lifetask that requires you to be on hold to a call centre, tackling some really crappy conversation. Why wouldn’t you want to postpone these?
I think I have two modes of Procrastinating.
The first is akin to: this is so earth-shatteringly dull… I know I could do it. I know I should do it. I know life will be better/ cleaner/ tider having done it. but, frankly… I’d rather have a cup of tea. This mode of putting off until tomorrow is with with stuff that’s well within my bandwidth (see: Insurance renewal, tidying up the spare room, booking the car in for a service, weeding the garden etc) low-lying first world problem, being an adult in this culture kind of stuff. If I didn’t do any of these tasks, my life would be a certain way. I choose (eventually) to do these tasks so my life isn’t that way. But this mode isn’t too concerning.
The second is the one driven by fear, inadequacy, ineptitude – the task is bigger, hairier, more complex/ scary than I understand (see: Non “friendly” conversations, especially with people that matter to me, anything to do with HRMC. etc) I don’t actually know I can do it. I might still know I should, but I can’t find the substance, the resource, to get going. Often, it’s because the outcome will be unpredictable (weeding the garden? I know how that will go. Starting a tricky conversation? Not so much). The risk attached renders me frozen – putting off the thing that needs to be dealt with because… I have no capacity to deal.
From there, I can really beat myself up. Knotted tummy. Narrative about how rubbish I am. Guilt. Fear – the whole lovely gamut.
So my question to myself is sometimes: what’s stopping you from doing this (I’m a coach, right? I’m not going to ask a judgemental “why” question & I do believe in doing unto myself what I inflict on others) and then something akin to “does it matter?” and see where the answers take me.
I see Procrastination as pretty natural. I think we should give ourselves more credit for when we need to do it (when are you procrastinating your procrastination? Giggling now) and work with the data when we are truly stopped in our tracks, unable to move.
Being kinder and more self aware, allowing ourselves to be a little lazier, a little less competent, a little less intense, a little more daft, a little more messy.. I think these are probably good things… we shouldn’t put them off.
Hard to write todays in some ways – because on some level I have been taught that procrastinating is a bad thing and we should have more agency/ be more organised etc… something that I struggle to really get behind.
Yesterday’s blog was much more personal…I suppose I’m partly drawing back from
But once I got started, I kind of warmed to it. Thank you , MiPs X