We’ve all been there (and if you’re reading this, you’re probably there right now). The clock ticks by, and with it your productive working hours, but you find yourself doing anything but the project at hand.
You chat to colleagues, flick through emails and social media, and ignore the growing project pile on the desk in front of you. You head home, determined to make a fresh start, but find yourself caught in a Netflix vortex and before you know it another day has slipped by.
But are we looking at procrastination all wrong? Could procrastination actually be serving a very real (and very valued) purpose? Could it be that you don’t have to feel guilty? Could we look at TIME in a different way?
The answer to all of the above? A resounding YES. But also NO. Here’s why.
Procrastination as a virtue, not a vice
Our culture idolises busy-ness. Go, go, go at all costs. Don’t stop. Check notifications. Respond immediately. Be across everything and don’t you dare stop for a minute. It’s no wonder that sometimes our brains put up a little STOP sign.
But why the stop sign? What is procrastination trying to tell us?
It could well be that you’re procrastinating over a particular task because your ideas and concepts aren’t fully formed yet. Imagine being a painter and forcing yourself to sit in front of an easel and DEMAND of your creative self to create a beautiful landscape between the hours of 9 and 5 that very day. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But just because we’re in business doesn’t mean that we don’t still have creative minds. Perhaps procrastination is part of the creative process as your brain mulls over different concepts and takes its time to fully formulate ideas before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
Another potential reason for procrastination is that you may be run down. Sickness, both physical and mental, can take quite the toll on our capacity to produce our best work. Give yourself time and space to rest and recover rather than beating yourself up about not performing at your best when you’re down in the proverbial dumps. No one can be their best at all times – not even Beyonce. If you wouldn’t expect your colleagues to work at 100% all of the time, why would you place those same standards on yourself?
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re doing. Maybe it’s not the right ‘fit’. Maybe your procrastination is really the universe telling you that something’s not right. Take the time and space you need to look at things from a fresher angle. It’s okay that you can’t get that task done today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
When Procrastination is your Worst Best Friend
Before you pat yourself on the back for all of your procrastination, consider that sometimes there are negative reasons behind all of your workplace mucking around.
Is the task too hard? Delegate, prioritise and move forward. Do you just not want to do it? Fashion the task into something that sparks joy. Missing key information? Get all the pieces in place before you start work. Not gelling with your team mates? See if you can shake things up.
Scared of starting something big? Reframe your mindset. We have anxiety about making big moves because they ask us to jump out of our comfort zones.
Procrastinators Unite! Eventually!
What’s your procrastination really telling you? Stop reading this article and get back to work to find out.