We are all of us adults here on this site, writers and readers, well-wishers and detractors. This naturally means that we are all well-acquainted with that sluggish beast known as Procrastination. Once upon a time, society viewed Procrastination as a blight, a rotten spot on anyone’s character. Procrastination was a heavy shame and people wanted it stamped out. But this is a new day, a new era. Sure, the old prejudices still lurk around, but we can’t really be surprised by it. I mean, after all, old-fashioned race-ism still lingers around and that malarkey is so outdated, I mean really. So of course there’s still irrational hatred for a character trait that is widely regarded as a horrible obstacle that keeps good people from being productive.
But I am here to explain how all the haters are hating a painful misconception!
That’s right. Anyone can make procrastination WORK. You can still be productive while procrastinating, you just need to open your mind and get over the fact that you might not be succeeding in producing the finished product you might have NEEDED to finish. But I think maybe we should reconsider this current lifestyle of “deadlines” and “you have to complete this specific thing I paid you to complete.” It’s all so narrow-minded, man, and I can’t support that bullshit mindset. This is not an article about what I do and do not support though. Oh wait, yeah it is. Because:
I Support Making Procrastination Work for YOU
So what needs to be done in order to be a good procrastinator? Well sir, you need to decide beforehand what ELSE it is you need to do. Most of us have mountains of work piling up all around us, threatening to topple and suffocate us without a care. Chores aren’t getting done, bills are being lost among our stacks of loose papers and notebooks filled with our Creative Ideas that we never find time to do because my GOD we are terrible at time management. You know, other things could be listed there but I am really not a specialist on how adults live life, so I’m sure I’m forgetting important things. Oh how about: meals aren’t getting cooked, and children are growing up beyond our notice as we spend our time stressfully contemplating how we must be losers because we don’t want to do all the things we are supposed to do! And that’s no way to live! That’s not even a way to die. Let’s throw out all of these bad feelings, friends. Let’s start over!
Too often people with little imagination think that procrastination needs to be full of pointless activities that cause guilt. Listening to all of your music in alphabetical order is a shameful waste of time because it only gives you enjoyment, but doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Fucking around on the internet offers a way to distract yourself, but you know that it isn’t really doing any good. Most people can’t get past the idea that you don’t need to do things that OTHER PEOPLE find useful, and that is a horrible thing that I would one day like to correct for us all. But until then, I can at least offer you some alternatives.
Here in this writing, I will give you seven OR MORE handy ideas for what you could be doing instead of what MUST be done that will still make you feel like you aren’t totally wasting your time! Seven is always a good number; it hasn’t failed me yet! And maybe it’ll treat you right, too. Gosh I sure hope so!
Embrace Good Health
As you sit at your desk, head in hands, wondering how you can possibly start writing that horrible report you are supposed to turn in tomorrow morning; you may be feeling a bit of pressure that reduces the quality of your life. If you don’t know what pressure like that is like, you lucky devil, I will describe it as feeling very much like a physical weight resting on your shoulders and back of your neck like a very heavy and malicious spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). This weight digs into your muscles and tightens them and it causes your posture to droop. As the hours swiftly tick by, the root tendrils belonging to this invisible Pressure monster may begin tightening around your lungs and heart and call over its good friend Panic Attack, but this generally mostly happens to people who have been harboring Pressure for many years, or who are particularly sensitive.
At times like this, I find that it is good to step away from the work area and do some stretches. It has been scientifically proven that cats are so relaxed and can purr because they spend as much as 40% of their day stretching and grooming. Wouldn’t you like to be a cat right now? They don’t have deadlines, or grades, or bosses. They can’t get fired from the business of being a cat, and neither should you! You don’t need to be knowledgeable in advanced Yoga techniques for this. Just begin twisting and pulling your back and limbs into semi-comfortable shapes. As your muscles lengthen and become healthier, you will be able to feel the stress leave you! In fact, you may begin feeling so good from the stretching that you may want to do some jumping jacks or possibly take a walk around the block. I tell you, that report won’t do you any good if you aren’t healthy enough to enjoy the benefits of finishing it.
If you’re lucky, you may pop your spine out of socket. The doctor’s note will absolve you of any deadline responsibilities! If that doesn’t happen, there is at least a good chance that you will come back from your multiple-mile hike exhausted. You may even fall asleep and have the first restful slumber of your adult life. In the morning, if you are fired, you can at least walk out of that thankless hellhole of a job knowing that you can sell your car to cut expenses and buy a bike to go job-hunting with, and unlike yesterday when you were fat and struggling, today you are fit and capable of bicycling uphill. In no time at all you will be thin and sexy through lack of eating, and that will cause you to appear to be a real catch among future employers. Everyone who’s anyone would rather hire a thin and sexy person, as far as I am concerned, and that’s the gospel truth!
All of That Whining Brings a Powerful Hunger
It is a scientific fact that desperately wishing for things to be as they are not burns calories and creates a gnawing void in the belly-region. The frantic wanting of something not to exist so that you won’t have to do it gives one the same cardiovascular exercise as trying to tear down a mountain with your bare hands. Of course, the accompanying stress and tension slow down the metabolism considerably at the same time, causing stressed individuals to develop an unsightly paunch in the lower abdomen, so that self-loathing can creep into the shadows of your mind and depression can kick you whenever you’re down.
Never mind that for now. When you are gripped by a need to procrastinate, it is a good idea to break the tension by creating a little snack or even a full meal. After all, you should enjoy your food while you can still afford to eat! After you get fired, you may not be able to enjoy these little luxuries, but that is neither here nor there.
Food-cooking is a pleasant activity. It soothes the soul and warms the heart. Learning a new recipe exercises the brain, and successfully performing it gives one a sense of accomplishment and success. It might even give you the courage to go back to the original task you were avoiding and broil the shit out of it just as you broiled that salmon or whatever! Oh god I had a whole food/work/cooking/success paragraph planned out in my head and then I got distracted and forgot it all and now I am sleepy so I don’t want to recreate it but I promise it was great! Hey! You can make your own in its place! It will be like a brain-game in place of whatever thing you are procrastinating from doing at the moment, which is healthy for your mind. You can thank me with gifts.
Clean Surroundings Create a Clean Conscience
As you writhe in a pile of shame and regret, counting all of the failed beginnings and incomplete tasks that litter your history, it might occur to you that your setting is equally cluttered with shame in the form of clutter, and regret in the form of tumbleweeds of hair, lint, and cobwebs. A filthy home creates discord inside of yourself, where your thoughts and feelings are housed. When your thoughts repeatedly trip over heaps of old cans and your feelings cannot find a place to rest their weary bones, your entire sense of well-being is jeopardized. And how can you possibly work when you can’t get comfortable? How can you become functional when the room around you is filled with trash and sorrow?
Oftentimes, I find myself cleaning instead of working on a project. This is great because I usually am procrastinating from the act of cleaning by coming up with some other activity that seems “just as useful” (see the rest of this list), so when an important project is due in a few hours, suddenly living in a clean environment becomes of paramount importance. How can I produce my best when I am not feeling my best, and how can I possibly feel my best when centipedes are waging war against dust bunnies? Stretching and exercise can only go so far. And anyway, mopping the floors and rearranging closets and organizing bookshelves are another type of activity that can cause sore muscles the next day, too, especially if you are a half-jellyfish half-slug hybrid like I am.
The ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui dictates that your home reflects your entire life. If what it’s saying is true, it is no wonder most of us are mired in a world of misplaced hopes and forgotten dreams. Those hopes and dreams are probably shoved under the bed, or crusting under the faucet in the bathroom. The old kind of procrastination lurks in dank corners of our living quarters, smothering us in the form of stagnant Chi and mildly toxic air. So open up those windows! Get out that vacuum cleaning machine! Use that feather duster as GOD intended and forget about that work you should have already finished and get to work on THIS work you should have never neglected in the first place!
Number Four: Make Some Lists
Studies have shown that creating lists often fills one with a sense of purpose. Making a list of things you need to do doesn’t have to fill you with dread if you think of it as a method by which you can become a more productive person. These lists can be used to efficiently tackle tasks and attain goals, ESPECIALLY when the goal is “to do everything on this list.” You can find a streak of Zen in the arranging and rearranging these lists in the most effective orders. You can be filled with peace and calm as you number tasks and erase things that you ultimately decide are not worth your time. When you are especially pinched for time on a project that you do not want to do, you may find that you can think of twenty or thirty different lists that you suddenly are in dire need to compile.
Grocery lists, lists dealing in life step goals, lists of books you’d like to read, skill and ability lists, chore lists, housework lists, lists of names, lists of favorites, and lists of lists you would like to make; all of these things can reveal interesting insights to yourself. You can review your values and everything – it really is a handy process to do. You can even make lists about how to better complete the project you aren’t wanting to do. I personally have TWO notebooks that I have dedicated to list-making. Where is the line drawn between efficiency and mental disorder? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you organize yourself so that you can get going whenever you are ready!
We All Become Writers at Times like These
Say you have an article due in four hours and you haven’t even started it, you don’t even have the topic fully formed in your mind. The house is already cleaned, you are too full of delicious food to exercise too much, and your spine only popped instead of split apart when you stretched backwards. Your many lists will wind up pointing you in the direction of this fifth suggestion: why not write another article on another topic? By the time you squirt out six thousand words on some ridiculous subject, maybe you will be ready to write what you originally intended to write about. Maybe by writing this article, my article-writing muscles will be warmed up and I will be on literary fire, able to write entertainingly and well on ANOTHER ridiculous subject. MAYBE.
Today, this is really working out for me because my procrastinated task is “Write an Article for OMGJ,” and I have tricked myself into writing an article for OMGJ. It isn’t the article I SAID I’d write, but at this point, how can Jeremy complain? How can ANY of you complain?? However there have certainly been times when I was supposed to be working on something important, something that would actually give me some money, and I found myself suddenly at the receiving end of a great blast of inspiration for writing. At those times, it seems like I could write a whole novel, but even in my fiercest moments of procrastination, I am at least realistic. Please, remember to be realistic in terms of ability. You don’t want another item to add to your List of Creative Endeavors I Would Like to Complete, another regret to be listed on your List of Regrets.
For those of you who do not ordinarily find themselves in the role of Hack Writer, I recommend that you really embrace this recommendation. Really, it seems that ANYONE could be a writer. Start up a stupid web log that no one will read, or if you are more confident, you could write articles to send to us, or to sell to a periodical that might trade you some money for your thoughts. Imagine that! A piece that you wrote in a fit of Don’t Wanna could bring in some money! The Joneses next door would certainly consider that to be a good use of time! Your employer may think otherwise, but really, who would dare tell a Real Writer what to do? You don’t need a 9-to-5 anyway now that you can rake in the dough with your skills. And to think, if you never procrastinated, you may have never tapped into this hidden potential. You can thank me with gifts.
The Internet Isn’t All Bad
The internet is not ENTIRELY a distracting, blinking source of blinking distractions. It can also be a useful tool. I have heard people talk about how they have used it for information and research. They actually go onto it and learn things, and quadruple-check facts and references. Sometimes they get caught in a labyrinth of learning, where they follow links for hours. Time and money may be lost in these instances, but something more is gained. And brothers and sisters, learning is power, and power is what everyone wants. Power is NEVER a waste of time. Gaining power instead of finishing a task is not ever a problem.
This internet place is a good resource for learning how to better yourself. Maybe you would enjoy learning a new trade so that you can be more valuable to society. Perhaps you are interested in what it would take, what it requires, to open your own business. Possibilities are endless on this thing and you can use it to the best advantage instead of working on what you should be doing. Learning becomes fun and wonderful in these times, and you should embrace this attitude and learn as much as you possibly can until you fall back, exhausted and smiling. Even reading this article is a good use of time, as I imagine you are all learning and enriching your lives.
Some hard-hearted people may say that you should turn off all of your instant message programs if you want to use the internet responsibly. However, I would like to point out that if you do this, you may be missing out on some of the most rewarding and inspirational conversations of your life. I deal in facts, and the facts state that your friends become fascinating when there is other work to be done. The Fates above make certain that this is so. Your friends’ lives become complicated and thick with entertaining, motivational dramas. Their words are presented to you in a manner that can transfix you and send you spiraling, full of ideas and wonder. Occasionally, they need your help, and you become useful in fending off their depression and subverting their life decisions. Your time spent procrastinating here becomes beneficial as you are swept into a world where you can feel good about being nosy and getting involved in the lives of your friends and acquaintances. The important part is that you are doing something that matters! But even if you aren’t helping them, they can be helping you by supplying you with second-hand anecdotes that you can use later to impress new people and still other friends.
There Were Other Things But I Am Running Out of Time!
So maybe I shouldn’t have played so much Scrabble in between sections, or perhaps I shouldn’t have taken that walk just to grab some fresh air. If you really need a seventh way to use your time wisely, then I suggest you grab a book on Creative Visualization and get to work on visualizing your OWN successful methods. Start praying to some gods and increase your spiritual awareness – that’s always admirable to certain people I guess. Go play with pets or pet cats or spend quality time with family, friends, your children, car, hobbies, etc. There. There’s a ton of suggestions with none of the millions of extra words I depend upon to make it look like I know what I am doing.
Together, friends, we will bring procrastination into fashion and redeem it in the eyes of all of those mistaken fools who believe that nothing good can come of it!
Amanda lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a complete hermit in many respects, so if you find her out-of-doors, consider yourself lucky, Bucko!
Contact her: email@example.com
or maybe AIM: octocakes