Procrastination: the fine art of doing something other than what you should be doing. I say it’s an art because I have seen some extremely creative, focused and driven efforts to avoid doing certain things. In fact, I’ve often seen them because I am doing them.
So, why do we do it? Are we avoiding something painful? Are we addicted to the rush of adrenaline that comes from finishing a mammoth task at the last minute? Do we lack the confidence or ability to achieve certain things? Or are we just damn lazy and unmotivated? From all I have read, the answer is yes. That is, yes to all of those things. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I can be pretty darn productive while avoiding something else. I think that’s the secret to not wasting your procrastination. Put the PRO into procrastination. Procrastinate like a PRO! Procrastinate PROductively! PROmise to get shit done, eventually! (I’m sure there’s more PRO type examples to use and I will try to think of them. Later.)
I first heard this term at a writing masterclass, spoken by Catherine Deveny. We were seated at a table, a big and diverse group. There was a food blogger, an ex-sex worker wanting to write her memoirs, a man wanting to write about atheism, other bloggers (like me) and aspiring novelists. When she mentioned procrastibaking, we all nodded. How many cakes, batches of muffins and loaves of banana bread have been baked purely so that someone who writes can put off that deadline, that convoluted plot or that muddled narrative? It’s an almost universal belief that food (especially cake) solves just about everything. So why wouldn’t it solve the problem of whatever we are avoiding? As an added bonus, we can improve our baking skills.
There are a number of books in my collection that have literally been read to rags. I don’t read every book more than once, but when I do, I read it 26 times. Sometimes I’m reading for the pure joy of it, but quite often I’m reading FIERCELY because I convince myself that I must read this NOW, no time to mop the floor or weed the garden! I must find out what happens or I must read that certain scene again, just because. Reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary and learn new things. Win/win!
Scroll through newsfeed. Click like here, leave a comment there. That’s a good meme- hit share! Oooh, an article. Read. Love it. Share! Uh-oh, I’ve scrolled down to where I’ve already read. I should get ready for work… Refresh! New stuff in newsfeed! I’ll just have a little look. Oh, that’s hilarious. Sharing! Ooh, and article about (insert potentially controversial topic)- best not read the comments! Well, maybe just a peep…It’s a vicious cycle. The ultimate time waster, if you’re so inclined. Facebook and other social media sites are the procrastinator’s best friend. It’s not without value; you connect with people in different ways, engage in thoughtful discussion or debate or share a laugh. Or you can kill hours by reading mostly crap when you should be doing something else.
Avoiding stuff by watching television; it’s never been easier. Whether you’re a Netflix fan, a convert to Stan, a pay TV person or someone who can’t resist a DVD box set, there’s practically no excuse to not be watching something. Whether a new season goes live or you score a rare box set at a great price, you’ve just bought yourself hours of procrastination right there. Can’t quite justify why you have to watch it NOW? Don’t worry, you’ll think of something! Sometimes, I truly think it’s okay to just relax in front of the TV for a bit. It can help you unwind and there’s a lot to be said for a little escapism.
This is me. I’m studying at the moment but forever putting off doing boring assignments because “I must have something ready for my blog this week!”. This is a self-imposed rule. No one forces me to write stuff for my blog. I do it because I want to. But there are definitely times that I write here when I should be doing other things, usually my course work. In fact, I’m literally doing it right now. I’m half way through my course and my time is running out to finish it but it’s really quite dry and uninteresting. I don’t feel motivated by the tasks. I know it’s valuable and that I’ve learned a lot but it doesn’t thrill me in any way. So here I am, procrastiblogging away!
It must be bad, whatever you’re avoiding. Like, wisdom tooth extraction or organising a funeral type bad. (I haven’t had my wisdom teeth out yet, but I have cleaned to put off funeral organising) If cleaning is better or more preferable to whatever it is, I’m not judging you. In fact, I’d hand you another bottle of Windex and leave you to it.
When Procrastination Isn’t Productive.
There are plenty of other ways to indulge your procrastination inclinations. Procrastidrinking is probably a less productive indulgence, with next-day repercussions that can hinder your efforts even further and lead to much more procrastination. Procrastibation is definitely a thing, too. Perhaps a less socially acceptable thing to use as an excuse when asked why you’re falling behind in your work or haven’t gotten dressed in a couple of days! Unproductive procrastination could be a red flag, warning you that you have exhausted productive options and are now doing something kinda pointless to avoid doing something that actually needs to be done.
Procrastionation: It Has It’s Place.
In this way, procrastination can be a useful tool. Not just because you might end up with an abundance of baked goods or a sparkling home but because recognising that you’re doing it is a prompt in itself. The trick is then remembering how good it feels to have your tasks out of the way compared to the stress of knowingly avoiding them. Which is why I’m going to spend the rest of the day on my coursework. Right after I finish baking a cake.
#IBOT @ Kylie Purtell.