Just do it smartly…
Before we begin; despite what many have come to understand, not a lot of people actually suffer from ‘Procrastination’. Procrastination goes much deeper than doing something you shouldn’t be, specifically when you shouldn’t be doing it. “Everyone puts things off sometimes, but procrastinators chronically avoid difficult tasks and may deliberately look for distractions” . This issue is much more serious than what most of us actually experience. Walter Isaacson insists that one of the greatest inventors of all time – Leonardo D'Avella – was a master procrastinator (he suffered from procrastination excessively, and it was known to emotionally tear him apart at times). But yet, he’s someone with a huge amount of achievements under his belt, and has an immense amount of work attributed to him .
I want to state, that I was procrastinating before I wrote this article. I wanted to have this done by 5pm, but hadn’t even started by then due to having a long conversation with a friend about gardening in Oregon. It’s 7:30pm, and I’m still writing to get this done. Am I stressed? No. Am I annoyed? No.
Google is flooded with millions of links and resources on how to stop time wasting. To make it clear, this is not one of those. Today, we’ll be discussing all of the many reasons as to why we should be time wasting, if we’re smart about it. My personal experiences have led me to believe that maybe we can actually benefit from procrastinating.
Today’s article contributor is myself, and quoting myself, I stated, “The more I try and stop time wasting, the more stressed I become.” I believe this is the case for quite a lot of people. The act of attempting to stop wasting time becomes the entire day’s focus, rather than just getting the work done. Eventually you'll stumble across the same result, but by focusing on what you shouldn’t be doing brings a level of negativity to the table. You become so fixed on all of the different methods of how not to procrastinate, that you never actually get to the point where you stop procrastinating.
Trying to stop wasting time, actually becomes the time waster.
Several of my music compositions have been derived from messing about on the piano, when I should actually be playing the wonderful masterpieces of Beethoven. Interestingly, it’s in these moments of a lapse of concentration that I come up with my article ideas, improvements for other activities I’m engaging in, and most importantly, sending that text that I forgot to send last night, or buying that book that promises to save my life (because I definitely need saving). So in my moments of ineffective work, I seem to be at peak creativity.
Personally, I have made a point to pay attention to these moments of time wasting, to appreciate and use them. I notate them down, and continue with what I was doing. Taking a couple of minutes, and intentionally lapsing your concentration is actually proven to help you work better when you go back to doing what you’re meant to be doing . Simply, if I don’t write down what’s going on in my head (which can also be called a Distraction Sheet) I find that it'll eat me and end up distracting me more.
So, how do I use time wasting to actually make me more productive? (I sort of hate that word too – but I’ll talk about that another time). Habits . I make a habit of taking a few seconds to recognise my distraction, do what needs to be done, and then get back to work. For me, this works better than not doing it at all. However, if you end up watching YouTube for an hour (of which I’m highly guilty), you’re going to get nowhere.
What point am I making? Well, if you’re smart about it, you can actually procrastinate productively. Quite a contradiction there, right? I’ve also made a point of noting, that time wasting helps me to relax a little more. It’s an unfocused path to a means of better focus. If all I try to do is concentrate all day long, I’ll burn out incredibly quickly - which I have done multiple times. Small snippets of time wasting means I get to relax, break up my attention, have less anxiety and actually enjoy what I’m doing.
By 'procrastinating productively', I am referring to the effort of trying to control what your time wasting looks like. Take a moment to do a mini mindfulness session (if that’s what you’re into), actually listen and take in that song playing in the background (but just leave it at the one song), and get a sip of water (a personal superhero of mine). Stay away from YouTube, and only read an article if it’s moderately related to the topic of your work. This is what I try to do, but you can come up with whatever works for you. Try to accept that time wasting is – and probably should be – apart of our daily routine. Just find a way to maximize it, and stop eating up more time than necessary by hiding from it.
I have often used time wasting as a method of getting myself out of a study slump. We’re all going to go through slumps in most things we do; work, study, exercise, hobbies, etc… It sometimes feels like quite a seasonal thing. What I then try to do is waste a lot of time, and work just a little. Moments begin to creep in where I actually begin to enjoy doing the work again, and that's when I stop. Why? Because that way, I begin to build a hunger for doing more work. What I’m trying to do is get that hunger to be strong enough that I actually begin working again. I'll watch half an hour of YouTube, and do ten minutes of good work, and then watch another half hour. This can make you feel really distraught and bad, but that means you’ll get back to working sooner. Once I’m ready, I’ll slowly (and it must be slowly) work towards cutting out my intentional distractions. Before I know it, I’m back to happily studying at the piano for seven hours (with plenty of breaks).
This very article idea came from when I was procrastinating and watching “5 things that help me avoid procrastinating” by Matt D'Avella - which I didn’t really enjoy. He states that it’s not okay to postpone something until tomorrow. James Clear mentions that “Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks...it is the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do” . This is true, but it’s not such a bad thing. That delay can often improve the end result.
On the other hand, it can actually be better to postpone something until the next day, suggests Adam Grant, author of the book I’m currently reading - Originals’; “Unexpectedly, some of the greatest creative achievements and change initiatives in history have their roots in procrastination, and the tendency to delay and postpone can help entrepreneurs build companies that last, leaders guide transformation efforts, and innovators maintain their originality” . However, it's only okay, if your deadline isn’t tomorrow, and your reason isn’t so that you can play video games. You have to be the one to judge your situation, and be true to yourself. Ask, “Will it actually be better for me to postpone this until tomorrow?” If so, then do it the next day. Whatever your reason be, if you think it is wholeheartedly better to do it tomorrow, then that’s what you should do – despite what Mr. D'Avella says.
To conclude, I highly enjoyed writing this article, because it took me absolutely ages, and I read several sources in relation to procrastination which I didn’t actually need. But having procrastinated and read those sources, I have a better all-around view of this topic and therefore could present to you a much stronger article. To take you back to my original point, I am telling you to procrastinate. Do it in such a way that makes it practical. In my opinion, Practical Procrastination has gotten me further and more accomplished than avoiding procrastination altogether.
If you have an idea, question or topic you would like me to research, review and write about, I would truly love to. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me – it would be my pleasure. If anyone would like to contribute to an article on any particular topic please let me know, I would love to work with you.
Jack, at Interconnected.
: 'Originals' by Adam Grant, p26
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