Procrastination is something I do every day. In fact I am doing it right now while writing this piece. It took me an extra hour to finish writing because I was too busy mastering the art of procrastination. If there is one thing in the world, I don't fail to do every single day, it is procrastination.
Now, what exactly is procrastination? The word derives from the Latin words pro which means "forward, forth, in favor of," and the word crastinus, which translates to "of tomorrow." It is the wonderful and elegant art of putting things off intentionally and mostly out of habit. Do you have trouble persuading yourself to do things you should do or wish to do? Then, congratulations! You are a true procrastinator.
Why do people like me love putting things off until the very last minute? Is it because we are lazy? I beg to differ. Procrastination does not equal laziness. Being lazy means not doing anything and actually not regretting it. On the other hand, procrastination means wishing to start or work on something but not finding the motivation or force to do so. For me, procrastination is trying to muster up enough motivation and enthusiasm to start something. It can even be something which I enjoy doing. I have been putting off starting a new TV series for months because I am afraid of committing to a new one. Meanwhile, I am watching 'Parks and Recreation' for the umpteenth time.
I like to call myself a perfectionist rather than a procrastinator. Perfection can only be achieved by thinking of million other things you need to do before starting the actual task you should do. Now, I know that it can be a bad thing too. You do not want to end up doing absolutely nothing. You need to be able to balance out your procrastination and work ratio.
One thing I learned in the past few years was that you need to stop stressing about wasting time. Tim Pychyl, author of Procrastination, Health, and Well-Being reported that students who forgave themselves for procrastinating before an exam ended up dawdling less for the next exam. If you procrastinate, you procrastinate; there is no reason to stress out your brain. People would be surprised to know stalling has taught me the ability to finish seven hours' worth of work in just one hour.
For all the laggards and dawdlers, it is time to rejoice. According to a research in Psychological science, we can now blame our parents and ancestors for our procrastination skills. The study says our genes are somewhat to be blamed because around 46% of 'lazy' tendencies are based on our genetic makeup. However, biologist, Dr. Sharad Paul, MD, did say in The Genetics Of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health that even though the amount of stalling we do depends on our biology, we can still take control of our 'lazy' genes and change them according to our diet, physical activities and environment.
Procrastination should not have to be unpleasant and unfortunate. If done right it can even make oneself efficient and hardworking. Often I have found inspiration when I was willfully wasting my time doing mundane times. A writing assignment due in two days? Suddenly I will find my closet and room need a deep thorough cleaning. I will spend one and half-day contemplating when I should start writing and right when I think maybe a writing career is not for me. I will find inspiration from a seven-year-old magazine lying in a corner of my closet. It is often shocking to me how everyday things can trigger one to create great things.
If you want to work on a task you are supposed to do, try convincing yourself to work on the smaller tasks first. It is not a sign of weakness to be unable to finish something in just one go. Sometimes amazing and the very best work has been achieved working like this. It is quite natural to think that success will come through hard work but I have found that my 'laziness' has sometimes done wonders for me. The only difficult part was to come to that conclusion while berating myself for not being like other hard-workers.
Now, will my approach to procrastination work for others? Maybe not, but it might help people to gain a new perspective on life. Who knows, you might even end up liking it. There can be moments in your life where squandering away your time is the exact thing you need to do. We can give ourselves a small taste of what is to come when we do achieve our goals. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a reminder that the end goal for all the hard work and torture we put ourselves through every day is to sit back and relax.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.