IS PROCRASTINATION A PATHOGEN TO CREATIVITY?
by Bongs Lainjo
Is procrastination the steal of time?
According to Cambridge English Dictionary, Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task, which needs to be accomplished.
It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline. People may procrastinate personal issues (raising a stressful issue with a partner), health issues (seeing a doctor or dentist), home care issues (patching a leak in a roof), or academic/work obligations (completing a report).
Although procrastination may or may not be what one wishes to do, it may actually be a choice that comes from the innate need of a person to complete things at the last minute. Sometimes people are unable to work properly unless they are forced to do so by time, family or management. There are other types of people who may feel like pressure is not the way to handle tasks and may become overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt. If you are someone who feels negative emotions as a result of leaving things to the last minute, then there are some suggestions we can make to help you be at ease and procrastinate less.
Before we delve into those suggestions, I personally have a tendency of starting something with a lot of zeal, motivation and excitement. And of a sudden, all that thinking just simply disappears and I then begin to run out of ideas and ultimately push it on the side and in some circumstances forget until in a similar way things and other ideas start to manifest themselves followed by another level of euphoria. For example, I started the first draft of this article in February of 2016 and have only recently able to put it all together. In a sense, I view procrastination as an inspiration of a creative mind! And quite often, I develop innovative ideas, then let them “die”; until one day either during a walk in the “wilderness” or reading in the library, the idea gradually starts to materialize and sooner than later I “grab the bull by the horn” and the rest is history! And before I forget, something that I must confess that I do quite often and which tends to enhance my level of productivity is “multi task”: a topic for the next time
The following are two recommendations from an expert that will help you if you find yourself procrastinating often and face challenges getting back on track, sometimes the simplest formulas will do the job.
The first recommendation would be to plan ahead. Planning can be a daunting task in itself, however, through organization comes clarity and ease. There is more to this, however. Because procrastinators seem to love planning, there is also a need to pursue the tasks consciously (www.waitbutwhy.com). Because planning has nothing to do with doing, the procrastinator needs to plan at the macro and micro level. In this sense, the plan will involve larger tasks and smaller, inclusive tasks that need to be accomplished in order for the macro tasks to be completed. Thus, the plan will have a big list and a small list where micro-activities are noted as being pertinent to completing the bigger tasks. For instance, let us say you have a doctor’s appointment and this is the second time to scheduled it. It would be easy to dismiss it as unimportant and to re-schedule it again, especially when there are no serious medical conditions. However, by simply attending that appointment, the stressor of having to re-schedule it, remember that there is an appointment and then having to go to the appointment is eliminated. By jotting down small reminders of what to do the night before (i.e., going to bed early), the morning of the appointment (i.e., leave an hour earlier to avoid traffic), and the day of (i.e., ask doctor about blood pressure), you will be able to accomplish the big task: attending the appointment. It is a matter of saving time, stress and resources by facing the task head-on and not letting it continue to be a part of your life.
The next suggestion is to prepare to get DOING. Doing is where the magic happens. Staring at the plan, big and small list, will not do anything for you but remind you that there are things that need to be done. Doing refers to starting with the first ticket on the small list. This also means that the scheduling needs to be respected as though it was a commandment. If the micro activities get done, you are well on your way to completing the actual project and finalize it with ease and grace. Encouragement and motivation to do this comes from seeing the big price and the light at the end of the tunnel. Reminders serve well for this and should be noted all over your desk area in order to remember why procrastinating is not an option.
In sum, it is important to get things done when they need to be done and not procrastinate. This saves us time, effort and stress in the future. By not getting them done on time, we actually end up doing more than we are supposed because of all of the stress associated with re-planning those activities. By DOING, the stress becomes much less and only increases when finishing up the task at hand, which is very short-lived. Besides a little adrenaline rush is good for the soul. For instance, once the appointment with the doctor is over, you will be able to forget about it and move on with your other life duties. Stress is removed by DOING. Remember procrastinating could lead to emotional and psychological difficulties with increased feelings of guilt and depression. It is better to get the task done and move on, better than storing it in the back of your mind while you figure out how you will get it done next time around. Thinking about it is not DOING it. Plan it, get it done and leave the stress behind.