Procrastination : Chronic Habit or Hidden Gold ?


Procrastinating? Moi?

I wrote my first version of this blog 7 years ago. I did not write my second blog until 6 years later. I know. The irony is not lost on me.

The day I wrote the first version I’d been to the supermarket, made 5 cups of tea, had  a friendly distraction for one of those cups. But I’d also been very ‘busy’ working on it. I’d surfed the length and breadth of the internet and collected an impressive collection of quotes and anecdotes. I rewrote and rewrote. And I am embarrassed to tell you how long it took for me to even think about get started in the first place. Its official. I procrastinate.

And don’t be fooled by the constant pitch perfect, motivational, ass kicking productivity we witness everyday on social media.

The truth is everyone procrastinates at some point.

It happens to the best of us

Victor Hugo, the writer of ‘Les Miserables’, certainly knew about procrastination. He’d get his Valet to hide his clothes so he’d be forced to stay inside and get down to his writing.

Demosthenes, a renowned Greek Orator, is reported to have shaved off half his head so he would be too ashamed to go abroad and therefore keep his focus on perfecting his speeches.

Their strategies for overcoming procrastination worked as their output was very impressive indeed. But what was it that enabled them to push through procrastination with such force?

Breaking through Procrastination

Here is the definition of Procrastination that resonated with me the most at the time:

“A chronic habit (caused primarily by fear or discomfort) of illegitimately justifying to oneself that a task does not, should not, or cannot be started now.”

I’m second guessing but I’m inclined to think that these two great procrastinator busters were less afraid of the task at hand and more afraid of not getting their work out there. They knew procrastination would come knocking and they were ready for it!

Valuing Yourself

There are many things that can drive a person to succeed, get stuff done, do what ever it takes. Desire for recognition, wealth, status, love. The list is long. I’d like to believe there is a more easeful option which is to truly value who you are and what you do. That can surely start to dissolve the fear and discomfort that we face so often in our work or give us that incredible force to push through that fear.

In M Scott Peck words…

“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” 

Our Internal Navigation System

However, what if procrastination wasn’t a problem at all, but a valuable signal letting us know that we’ve gone off course? What if we are sometimes moving so fast, busy being busy, that procrastination was life’s way of telling us to slow down, stop and listen? These could be times when you need to allow an idea to incubate, perhaps realise that the task isn’t worth doing after all and to adjust your course of action accordingly. There could be gold that we might only uncover if we were quietly and carefully searching.

When I finally posted this blog first time I wondered how different my writing might have been if I had stopped and taken time to incubate my ideas even for a few moments. What if had listened more fully to my intuition rather than go into battle with procrastination?

With the luxury of a 7 year incubation period I’d love to be able give you the crowd pleasing ‘I told you so’ kind of ending, sharing the additional gold I’d unearthed. But if I stopped to try and articulate that, it may take me another 7 years to post! 😉 So I’m going to push on through and save those nuggets for another day.

I’m curious to know….How do you notice when it is appropriate to push through, or when its time stop, listen and let go ?

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