written in 2016 for Know You More (you can also see it here: https://www.knowyoumore.com/know-you-more/chronic-procrastinator-weve-got-covered/)
“Procrastinate now, don't put it off.”
― Ellen DeGeneres
Procrastination is defined as putting off doing a task that needs to be done. This can be writing a paper, studying, tidying up, seeing a doctor, avoiding an important conversation… The task is associated with some discomfort - you need to put a lot of effort in it, maybe it makes you anxious, pushes you out of your comfort zone a bit; we don’t procrastinate on things we enjoy doing.
According to various studies, more than 50% of university students procrastinate; data varies, but in some studies it goes up to 80%. Wow! So, if you ever struggled with procrastination, you are not alone.
But more than 50%? More than one in two people??
Is there a plus side? What can be good about procrastination?
Some people only start really working when the deadline is fast approaching, they finish on time and are satisfied with a not perfect, but good-enough result.
More often though, people get stressed because they started late and then ran out of time. They are not happy with the result. And to be fair, the result does not do them justice - they have skills, abilities and resources to do it better, but they ran out of time. In the end, this does not help their confidence and reinforces self-doubts.
What can you do?
2. Sort through the things you have to get done.
IMPORTANT NOT IMPORTANT
NOT URGENT NOT URGENT
IMPORTANT NOT IMPORTANT
Sometimes we are very busy doing things that are not as urgent as others, although they are important (you don’t need to tidy up everything when your exam is in three days, the exam is more urgent; tidying is important, too, but less urgent. On the other hand, some calls or mail can be urgent, but they can get in a way of the important task. You can fit them in when you have a break or you can let people know that you have a pressing deadline and will get back to them later.).
3. Write it down.
4. Allocate time.
5. Stick to your plan.
6. Just start.
I did not have time to procrastinate on this blog about procrastination, but I found myself recently procrastinating on a different work. When I looked closer at what was happening, I realized that I started to resent it, I wasn’t enjoying doing it. I did not like the way my client was communicating and his attitude, and the work itself was hard and required a lot of effort from me. This awareness did not make me feel enthusiastic about the job, but brought clarity. I was not lazy or ungrateful, or disorganised. I managed to keep the deadline that I set for myself and did a good job, but it took me longer than I thought it would. Which meant less sleep.
When there is no deadline looming over your head, you might want to look closer at what makes you procrastinate. Do you think you won’t achieve what you want anyway, so why bother? Do you feel unworthy of having good things in life? Procrastination can often be easily dealt with by more conscious time planning. It can also be the tip of the iceberg that hides deeper feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt or lack of confidence. In any case, it helps talking about it to someone (a friend, a professional) to see what others find useful.
Neuroscience might have something to say about why young people get in trouble for procrastinating. There are lot of changes going on in our brains in adolescence (12-24). According to dr. Dan Siegel, adolescents are more prone to give in to their impulses and need novelty - that’s why they get easily bored. Social connections are very important, enough to take a person away from a solitary task. The part of the brain that has a lot to do with long-term planning, decision making and evaluating future consequences of our actions, called the prefrontal cortex, is among the last to fully mature. All of this is individual, but it might suggest why some people struggle more with procrastination that others.
So don’t be too hard on yourself - but most of all, don’t procrastinate on dealing with procrastination!
I for sure wish they invented a shorter name for it!
“The real lesson is that under conditions of true complexity - where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns - efforts to dictate every step from the centre will fail. People need room to act and adapt. Yet they cannot succeed as isolated individuals, either - that is anarchy. Instead, they require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation - expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress toward common goals,” writes Atul Gawande in his book The Checklist Manifesto. He illustrates this on examples of building high rises and on hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The book has been sitting on my shelf for several years, since my daughter left it there. I do not know why my hand reached for it a couple of weeks ago. Why am I reading this book, I was wondering? Until I read the chapter about the hurricane. Then it all clicked:
We are living a complex situation just now. A global one. Our knowledge base about the virus multiplies every day. No one has a ready made solution or a framework they could implement. There is no one who would have all the expertise and information to come up with an effective plan with guaranteed results.
There is a lot of disruption, forced change, loss and grief. And we also want this time to be the time for growth. We have seen mutual aid groups grow, we see other supporting activities spring up, a lot of creativity online.
Right now, every voice needs to be heard. As the Deep Democracy Forum, we want to continue creating space for that, getting people talking, building connections and supporting each other's ideas. That is our way of building back better.
Many things started because people started chatting over a coffee or randomly on a train. We all are parts of networks and we are contributing to many projects and activities - and we might not even realize it.
We want to see what can happen when people start talking to each other and sharing dreams for the future after the pandemic. Which seeds will take on. Now there is space for grass to take roots. Can you hear it growing?
And just to remind ourselves - we are not the only ones doing this. People all over the world are responding to current changes and challenges, getting together and sharing their experiences and dreams. In the olden days, people gathered around a fire. Now, we come together on zoom. Coming together is the first step. The next one will follow from there. No one has a map. It is a path made by walking.
Thursday 3 Dec 2020, 7 - 8:30pm on zoom.
It can get tricky to hold onto our big dreams when there is so much pain, inequality and structural discrimination in the world. We can easily start feeling small and hopeless, or judge ourselves for not contributing enough - but doesn’t this make us complicit with the status quo?
Participants in the previous conversation found support in sharing the space, the dreams, the angst, in reminding each other that even though the dream seems big you can always take one next step. Noticing tiny things, managing your energy, together with focus and quiet determination will make the difference on the path.
After the first series of facilitated conversations about the post pandemic future, we are even more aware of the importance of this space.
It is vital that we talk together about our future and how we envisage it. The present is rife with painful and urgent issues and the past is far from healed. It is up to us to decide what we want to carry forward and what to leave behind.
We are inviting you to join us in conversation to connect together and to ‘dream the future’ we want to see. If we are to create it, first we need to imagine it.
We aim to bring together our experiences of these big changes in our lives and share with each other
love and hope
Eva and Lea (DDF)
We had a wonderful group for our pilot workshop.
Women generously shared their experiences, exploring what can support us when we feel silenced. Also, how silence and slowing down can be a powerful resource in its own way.
Experiences around the Covid-19 crisis were also mentioned and explored, specifically isolation and feeling alone. Coming to the workshop was for many an act of empowerment in itself. Consciously creating a ‘time just for myself’, when it can be more natural to support and hold space for others.
We started planning these workshops before the Coronavirus pandemic, and a lot has changed in the world since March 2020.
As women we can often find ourselves living lives that have been outlined for us by someone else (for example, parents, partners and societal structures). We are also praised for being understanding, helpful and empathetic, often encouraged to be in a supporting role.
How are we experiencing our power now, amidst constant changes? Are we all just tired? Feeling isolated? How to find a place from where we can look to the future?
We have been grappling with these questions ourselves and we are curious to explore them with you.
Many people feel awkward focusing on their own power. But we believe - and previous workshops showed us - that it does not have to be. Getting in touch with our own power supports us and makes us resilient.
It enables us to take action and gives us courage ‘to be me’.
What if we collectively tuned into our own power and resilience, could this support individual and collective change? Where is this needed in ourselves and in the world?
Together we will bring attention to these dynamics and our diversity, exploring how they affect us personally.
We are offering new and creative ways informed by Processwork (Process Oriented Psychology) for noticing your experiences more, valuing your journey and empowering yourself around your decision-making process and your personal growth.