So I’m sitting here, working (actually trying to work) and thinking about this whole productivity thing. I mean, I know that being productive throughout the day is a very nice concept. One that can bring your business/hobby/any other activity to the next level. However, aren’t we just too productivity-focused in the 21st century? Before the year 1600, the word “productive” didn’t even exist, yet people were still able to function perfectly fine on a daily basis. How come?
Why we procrastinate
Obviously, I am not a madman and I won’t say that productivity is a bad thing. In fact, I wrote a number of articles focusing on different aspects of productivity, and I do consider it one of the main things to master in our lives. Personally, I’m a freelance writer, so if it wasn’t for productivity and work organization I wouldn’t be able to make a living and get paid to write, but I also think that treating productivity like this unattainable goal is only going to bring bad results. Most people struggle to be productive just because they don’t realize how simple things are, and how little you have to actually keep in mind.
One of those things is being and feeling relaxed. If you’re not relaxed, you won’t be able to produce any good results (no matter what you’re doing), and this is where procrastination comes into play. Whenever we realize that there’s so much stuff to do, yet so little time, we immediately get stressed out and decide to take care of the easy (but unimportant) stuff and postpone the essential. This is procrastination.
Now, a short distinction between procrastination and laziness.
- Not doing anything at all: laziness.
- Doing simple tasks instead of important tasks: procrastination.
Should you procrastinate?
This is the kicker. Yes, you should, because why the hell not?! Most authorities in the productivity niche say that we should always take care of just the essential tasks and fight every, even the smallest case of procrastination. I say the opposite (I guess I’m no authority then).
What I’m trying to convey here is that you can procrastinate if you’re in the mood, and use this time to reevaluate your goals. Here’s what I mean:I have never met anyone who would honestly want to get a given project going yet couldn’t find the time to do so. If something is important to you, you will find the time and dedication. If something is not that important, though, you will struggle to get it done because you’re acting against yourself.
What it all means is that “essential” tasks are not really essential if you don’t feel like taking care of them. The problem is that sometimes we like to (or feel the need to) fool ourselves that something is important to us, when in fact, it isn’t. The lesson here is rather simple: If you’re in the mood for procrastination, do it, do it like a boss, and use this time to reevaluate what’s on your plate.
However, before you start…
Improve your schedule and relaxation
The whole concept of reevaluation I’m going to present in just a minute is a rather brutal one, so before you can try it out I advise you to take a look at your current schedule and “relaxation levels,” so to speak.
As I said a couple of paragraphs above, the lack of relaxation is often one of the main causes of procrastination. The thing is that when you’re relaxed, you’re in control. You have no doubts or stress regarding the things you should be doing and when you should be doing them. Relaxation allows you take care of the tasks you have planned, instead of finding alternatives.
That’s why before you do anything else, it’s really important to build a schedule that you are happy with—one that makes room for any non-work-related activity you wish, and one that doesn’t require constant late night work. When you have this, you can spend the evening relaxing and recharging your batteries. This will allow you to work more smoothly during your productive hours.
So the only question is: Do you still feel the need to procrastinate? If that’s a yes then you need some serious reevaluation.
How to procrastinate
Let me share my own example here as a kind of a case study.
For some time now (close to two months actually) I’ve been running an experiment in which every time I’m tempted to procrastinate, I don’t even try to fight it, but instead just go with the flow (step #1).
Then I spend 5 minutes or so trying to come up with the reason of my procrastination (step #2). I focus on the appointed most important task of the day and why I don’t want to take care of it. I’m trying to list every reason that comes to mind.
When I’m done, I just set the list aside and handle my other tasks—the ones I’m procrastinating with (step #3). Remember that these tasks should still matter; spending your time on anything that doesn’t matter at all is a pure waste.
I repeat this process whenever procrastination hits me. Then, if I start noticing that one particular project is being constantly procrastinated on, it’s probably not the most suitable project for me after all. This causes me to reevaluate it, and in most cases get rid of it completely.
Picture such a situation: If you’re running a business and you know that cold calling is an effective marketing method, yet you keep procrastinating on it for two weeks straight, then maybe you should stop fooling yourself and try something that’s more suitable for you…? Now, in this example I’m not trying to say that cold calling is not effective. I’m just saying that it’s not effective for everybody. No matter what your job/work is, you should always find your own effective way of handling it, not the way you think is effective but never get to execute it with dedication.
The point is simply this: Do what’s right for you. If you find yourself procrastinating, you may just be in the wrong area of activities/tasks/projects.
Cut-out-‘n-keep cheat sheet
Just in case you like such things, here’s the cut-out-‘n-keep cheat sheet.
- Improve your schedule so you have time for anything.
- Procrastinate consciously (jot down the reason).
- Reevaluate your projects and goals.
What’s your take on procrastination? Do you consider it being the #1 enemy of a productive lifestyle?
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