There is something about procrastination that is hard to grasp. Is it laziness? Is it tiredness? Do we hate our lives? None of these answers seems to cut it.
Deep down, we know it’s not laziness that stops us from doing the things that would help improve our lives.
What it is about
Essentially procrastination is an intense feeling of resistance against specific tasks. Especially tasks that are hard to grasp or seem too big to comprehend when we start. Something makes us uncomfortable, and we occupy ourselves with 20 other things instead.
Why is procrastination bad?
Procrastination is bad because we keep putting off important tasks that can help us to build better lives. The things we avoid doing can become so big in our minds that it feels impossible to move past them. As time goes on, the very thing we procrastinate becomes our biggest fear. Procrastination is bad because it turns small problems into gigantic problems when they don’t have to be.
Only by sitting with ourselves can we access the quality of energy we need to do more and be more. I talk about trauma because for many people, it’s the first thing that shows up when they sit still. It’s the collective of unfelt feelings that comes forward. It’s not fun, and that’s why so many people have fallen into the productivity trap that consists of ‘keeping busy.’
Indeed, we can’t just sit down and say, ‘now let me take a look at Trauma A, part 1 from my childhood’, even though many of us approach ‘self-improvement’ this way. But healing from trauma, or putting it differently, going through unfelt feelings, is the pathway to the quality of energy we need to thrive. Simply put, active energy is the walk, passive energy the compass. Both are essential.
What can we do to ease into sitting still? The cure for anything we’re afraid of is to look for it actively. If being alone with your thoughts scares you, grab a piece of paper, and write down your experience. It’s my experience that when thoughts and feelings exist as free-floating concepts in our minds that they can control us. Once they’re out, through talking, or writing, you take back control.
We overcome procrastination by doing. It’s not necessary to immediately take the plunge into the thing we’ve avoided doing. Instead, it’s time to be still and get to the bottom of what this procrastination is really about.
Like I said before, you know that you don’t procrastinate because you’re lazy. It has a deeper reason, and that reason is a different one for everyone.
Using the Morning Pages
A big part of procrastination is feeling overwhelmed. This overwhelm creeps up on you, holds you in its grip, and doesn’t let you go. It only seems to ease a little when you move away from the task and focus on something else.
Often, we don’t even know what exactly makes us so insistent on procrastination. Luckily our subconscious does know. One thing that has helped me majorly move forward – and get started with writing, for example – is this concept called “Morning Pages” from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.
Every morning before you do anything else, you sit down and write about two pages longhand. If there’s something particular that has been bothering you lately, this is the time to get it out on paper. You mustn’t stop to think about what you’re going to write; just keep on writing.
Don’t worry – your writing is supposed to look like absolute crap. You should write about anything you think or feel at that particular moment. Even if it’s nothing, then write about why it’s nothing. This might seem like a super silly practice, and it feels that way sometimes, but commit to it for at least a month.
And no, you don’t have to be an artist for this to work. If you’re just a person who wants to start living life without the constant pain of procrastination, it’s most definitely worth giving a shot.
Take it step by step
Let’s say you’re procrastinating writing a book. Overcoming anything, whether it’s writing or starting a new business, is by taking small steps.
The last thing you need to cure procrastination is to overwhelm your calendar with tasks that are way too ambitious. Instead of writing a chapter, let yourself write an article. If you’re procrastinating starting a new business, don’t write down big goals. Make a vision board instead. Write down three things you need to start – and what you need to learn to do it.
I’m a big believer that taking small steps towards your goals while at the same time getting out the dirt of your subconscious works WONDERS for beating procrastination.
Below I’m listing my favorite books that all contributed to moving beyond my creative blocks and procrastination. It’s a great balance between creating new habits and understanding ourselves from a deeper – perhaps more spiritual – place.