noun. the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.
We generally say that we have a reason to procrastinate, and when it’s something that we either don’t want to do or find boring or unpleasant, we can think of millions of things that we’d rather be doing. Hands up if you’re guilty? I know I definitely am. Did you know though, that there are two types of procrastination, and the reason you procrastinate might not be what you think it is?!
Type 1 - Productive Procrastination
I love this type of procrastination! When you start to get that little twinkle of an idea, and you’re not quite sure what or where it’s going to lead to, what shape it will take, or how you’re going to get there. All you know is that you need to mull it over in your mind for a short or a long while until your idea reaches fruition, or you just need to share it with someone to get their input. This is all hugely positive productive stuff and is part of the natural creative thought process that leads you to solidify that idea. Call it mental wandering if you will (thank you for the phrase Mel Robbins). This type if procrastination is most definitely not something to worry about!
Type 2 - Destructive Procrastination
This is the ‘uh-oh’ not-so-good type, where you put off doing stuff and find any and every excuse that you can not to do it.
The common misconception is that this is due to laziness. It’s absolutely not! It’s a type of stress coping mechanism. There is something in your life, whether that be a relationship, finances, health, work or anything else, that you don’t want to address, so you find other things to do, but you also put off other things that you don’t want to do on a day-to-day basis, like cutting the grass, phoning that annoying client, housework, the list is pretty endless. What you actually need to do is to really analyse what issue you’re really avoiding tackling. You can only do this by giving yourself a bit of space, and then looking inside yourself and being really honest with yourself about what is really bothering you.
Forgiving ourselves for the issue we’re really avoiding is something that many of us, me included, find extremely hard to do. Once we understand what our real issue is, we’re often too embarrassed, annoyed with ourselves, or guilt ridden to forgive ourselves. We do whatever we need to do to feel good in our current situation and try to ignore the feelings of guilt caused by avoiding our underlying issue. However, by holding on to self blame, we’re really holding on to all of the negative feelings associated with it, and all that then happens is we keep perpetuating that same negativity so we can never break free from it, until it begins to affect our mood, our health, and our ability to move forwards. I’ve recently managed to forgive myself for a couple of things that I’ve been holding on to for years, and the sense of relief and freedom that it gives makes it possible to actually deal with those issues in a positive and proactive manner as well as feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders.
Once you’ve understood the root cause of your destructive procrastination, have forgiven yourself for both the issue and for procrastinating about it, you can then tackle the issue whatever it is, in the most proactive way possible. That could be anything from picking up the phone to say hi or sorry, accepting that you don’t have to be friends with everyone you work with as long as you can have a professional relationship with them, arranging for a debt to be paid in manageable chunks, arranging for that health check, writing off a debt from a non-paying customer, forgetting about that 1 star review from a troll, or finally sorting out your pension. There are so many issues that affect our lives, and not dealing with something in one area of our lives has such a huge impact upon every area. We can’t be perfect in dealing with them all, but as long as we try, and as long as are proactive in addressing them, we can only move forward.
If you’ve been avoiding doing something, I challenge you to set some time aside for yourself, to think about what issue you’re really avoiding, and to do something about it today :)