Procrastinating in this day and age is seen as a sign of aimlessness, poor mental acuity, and at worst complete failure as a human being.
In our go-go-go, hyper-accelerated working culture and day-to-day life, procrastinating is just not in the picture. And if it IS … well, there must be something very “wrong” with you that at all costs must be FIXED.
How many times have you read articles out there about “How to overcome procrastinating,” or “7 ways to beat procrastination,” or “How to break the cycle of procrastination”? Probably a lot. But I’m sick and tired of reading about how to be more efficient, more organized, and more productive. I’m bored of the same old re-hashed articles and advice columns advising us how to “plan our days” and structure our lives better. And I never liked the books “Getting Things Done” and “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.”
Why? Because while these books, articles and pieces of advice help us to do more, succeed more, and live more stress-free days, none of them confront the underlying issue here: why do we have to do so much in the first place? The immediate answer might be, “Because that is how life works.” Is it? Is living a rich, fulfilling and “successful” life really about cramming so much into our days that we have to schedule family dinners, fun time, and even sex on a virtual calendar? Perhaps we should rethink our beliefs and ideas about life.
In this article, I offer you a completely different perspective on procrastinating, and how it can actually be beneficial for your well-being.
4 Gifts of Procrastinating You Can Benefit From
I’m not all that good at procrastinating. Because of the obsessive (I call it passionate) way my mind works, I find it hard to set aside what I’m doing and just relax. Inevitably this leads to stress, burnout, and eventually a debilitating “I don’t care about anything” attitude. That is why I’ve had to teach myself how to procrastinate … because it is absolutely vital for my health!
On the other hand, you might be completely different. You might be an excellent natural-born procrastinator, but also, you might struggle to keep up with all the demands of life. Firstly I must commend you. Procrastinating is commonly thought of as the tendency to avoid and escape from responsibility due to a lack of will power, but I actually believe that procrastination is one of the most “willful” actions out there. When we procrastinate we are basically desiring to enjoy the present moment as much as possible. And that is not always such a bad thing.
But don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating hedonism or self-sabotage. There is a difference between procrastinating (which we all do) and the chronic procrastinator who turns to drug/alcohol addictions, gambling addictions, lies and other forms of belligerent procrastination to constantly avoid the hard and painful elements of life. If you are a chronic procrastinator, this is not the right article for you, and I recommend that you leave this article immediately in search for another that will help you to face your pain in a healthy proactive way.
However, if you are a normal, garden-variety procrastinator who feels overwhelmed, lost, and aimless in the face of life, continue reading why procrastinating can actually be beneficial for you:
1. Procrastinating helps your mind to expand.
Yes, you heard me! Whether it’s watching “the llama song” on youtube, taking a detour to the local bookshop, browsing the interwebs for hours, or making believe that you are doing something useful that completely isn’t, procrastination helps your mind to relax. When we are constantly focusing on one task or project for hours, even days, weeks or months, it is very easy for us to get linear and myopic in our focus and perspective. So give yourself a break and let your mind roam everywhere it shouldn’t.
2. Procrastinating helps you to mentally and emotionally prepare for big projects.
I have made the mistake of jumping into massive projects way too quickly to the detriment of my physical and emotional health. Why? Because I didn’t prepare, or in other words, procrastinate enough beforehand. In the West especially there is a big emphasis on doing things that are “quantifiable” or measurable, and procrastination just isn’t one of those things. In our work culture we are pressured into dividing everything into time-controlled tasks (e.g. take the rubbish out at 2pm, allocate 1 hour to this, 3 days to that), and we bring this into our personal lives.
While it isn’t always possible to procrastinate on-the-job, it is possible to learn the benefits of procrastinating in your own personal life. For example, I would love to write another eBook with Sol. However I have the tendency of jumping in too fast and not thinking large projects like this through (which has led to untold amounts of frustration, stress and disappointment). But spending hours researching, recording, practicing and mastering random things has helped me to gain an idea of what exactly I have to offer, and what exactly is in demand.
3. Procrastinating helps you to stop taking everything so seriously.
Procrastination is the buffer to burnout. I have learned that the hard way. Without a gap between desire and action, we always act out our desires; we always work, work, work. I’m not sure about you, but workaholism is definitely not a desired state of being in my world. This is why procrastination is so important: it helps you to slow down, it helps you to regain a balanced perspective of life, and it can even help to salvage your health.
4. Procrastinating helps you to re-taste simplicity and present-moment bliss.
I believe that on an unconscious level we all procrastinate because we are seeking to return back to the state of simplicity and joy that we innately are, but often lose touch with. Whether it be walking the dog, watching too many episodes of your favorite mini-series, doing simple errands, or playing on your phone, it is important that you find time to follow your bliss however grand or simple that is. After all, isn’t that what life is all about, experiencing the miracle of living?
What Has Procrastination Taught You?
How have you benefited from procrastination? And at what point does procrastinating become detrimental? Personally, procrastination becomes disadvantageous to me when I begin feeling aimless, when I experience existential lethargy, and when procrastinating is negatively impacting the lives of others. At this point, I know it’s time to get back on track. What about you? Feel free to share your struggles, triumphs, and bits of advice below.