Christmas is a time of festivities, family, and fun, and it is also a time of procrastination as our days and weekends in the lead up to December 25th, fill up with office parties, get-togethers and lunch dates. These jam packed itineraries offer easy excuses for not cleaning the car, even though the kids next door have written "I'm so dirty" in the layer of dust clinging to the bonnet. Excuses for not attending those seven pump classes you signed up for, in a bid to be beach body ready by the time January rolls around. And excuses for not writing a single sentence beyond the 1000 words written for your second book back in October, when you had the pipe dream of 'finishing by Christmas'.
Yes that's right, things fall by the wayside over the holiday period, yet unlike the rest of the year, our guilt is minimised . We share this with our family, our friends, our neighbours, and for that reason, we are comforted and we are accepting. And isn't that what procrastination really is? A somewhat 'justified' excuse for not doing something?
The P word has certainly held some relevance to me over the past few months, what with so many ample excuses at the ready; a new baby on the way, Christmas, travel and events in January, and a bunch of hobbies and weekend activities all competing for my attention. Interestingly enough, - or if I was drawing on themes from my debut novel 'Four of a Kind' perhaps it was a sign - I stumbled across the concept of procrastination while doing some research for the sequel. And the learning I took away was to stop procrastinating. Easier said than done, right? Maybe not...
Once you start identifying when you are procrastinating, it becomes a lot easier to prevent the behaviour. For example, I will often take clean laundry to my room and instead of putting it away immediately, I leave it on my dresser to put away at a later time. As soon as I acknowledged that I was simply delaying this activity for absolutely no valid reason, I mentally forced myself to undertake it at that moment instead. And from here, your acknowledgement starts to increase, and your procrastination as a result declines.
What was however most surprising was how much of a mental impact decreasing my procrastination levels had. It's exactly the same feeling when you leave the house and have that niggling in the back of the mind that you've left the oven on, or when going holiday and you're sure you've forgotten something. Just a constant, minor feeling of anxiety that weighs ever so slightly on the mind. Just like when you delay emptying the dishwasher and instead park up on the couch in front of the TV; you're left with a lingering guilt that burdens on the mind. Therefore, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that once you start to rid yourself of these taxes by consciously stopping yourself from procrastinating, you feel mentally lighter, like you have the right to relax.
So next time you mentally scribe yourself a note to "do that later", if you can, do it now instead. The mental satisfaction will well outweigh the inconvenience of prolonging your relaxation or "just can't be bothered" mind set for a little longer. Of course, when it comes to less menial tasks, it's a little bit more challenging. Interestingly, I don't choose to do nothing by means of procrastination, I instead choose to do something else - coming back entirely to my point on justification, as long as one is productive they don't feel like they are procrastinating. For example, I've written an entire post on Procrastination, without writing anything on my next book... looks like I haven't quite conquered procrastination yet.