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Cover image for Introducing Procrastination In A New Light

Introducing Procrastination In A New Light

delfina profile image 🐬 ・4 min read

“A Book That Changed My Life: The Artist’s Way”.. “How Julia Cameron Changed My Life”… “The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron Changed My Life… and it still is”..”The Power of Journalist: How “The Artist’s Way” Changed My Life”…

It wasn’t until I read “How I Stopped Sitting Around All Day Seething With Jealousy of My Peers” that I learned about the book “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” and all the life-changing claims.

A bible for creatives, it goes deeper into self-limiting beliefs around art and work, and the concrete ways to get unstuck. Such a good book, yet, it’s taking me longer than ever to read it. Why?

When Googling procrastination, 50,500,000 results show up.
What is procrastination exactly, besides a term I’m never sure how to pronounce? The action of delaying a task that we know there’s no escaping. The action of inaction, inertia, deadlines included for good measure.

People frequently ask Google whether procrastination is a mental illness. Our hatred of procrastination stems from our hatred of discomfort. It’s not a willpower issue, nor a psychological issue, but an emotional one.

Looking around the room.

“Why am I here?”

It’s a useful question to ask often.

Either it will re-focus your reasons for being where you are, or it will make you realize your reasons have expired and you should be somewhere else.
-Derek Sivers

Even though emotions have been used against women, especially against black women and other marginalized groups for decades, we’re finally reclaiming them. Emotions are f*cking powerful and I’m no longer afraid of mine.

My own self-limiting beliefs surrounding emotion tried to convince me smart and pure can’t coexist, that emotion and reason are mutually exclusive.

Emotions are powerful. And important. And we should be paying attention to what they’re trying to show us. Delfina, what does this have to do with me being too lazy to clean my room?!

Procrastination is an “emotion-focused coping strategy to deal with negative emotions.”
-Dr. Tim Pychyl, Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Education and Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University

Psychology Today beautifully put it: “Tim and his students devote their attention to understanding why and how we can sabotage our best intentions with needless delay.” Dr. Pychyl stated procrastination is a problem of emotion management rather than time management.

Your messy room, your unfinished essay, the project you are slowly, but surely getting behind on. They’re all signs of a bigger, underlying problem.

It’s irrational for us to postpone something we will have to do eventually. Leaving it to the last minute is irrational. Self-sabotaging is irrational. Making situations more stressful is irrational. But pretending, expecting people to be rational 100% of the time, is the ultimate irrational belief.

Procrastination is associated with low self-regulation. An ancient philosopher by the name of Ice Cube once said: “check yo self before you wreck yo self”.

That’s what self-regulation is: managing our moods and behaviors, responding appropriately to different stressors, “checkin yo self.” It’s a crucial part of socialization and childhood since the early years set the foundations for our self-regulating skills.

Self-regulation is defined as the process by which people incorporate behavior change into their everyday lives, and it involves: self-monitoring, goal setting, reflective thinking, decision making, planning, plan enactment, self-evaluation and management of emotions arising as a result of behavior change.
Participatory Health Through Social Media, 2016

There’s a correlation between procrastination and meditation other than both ending in –ation. In layman’s terms, more meditation = less procrastination. Yes, research has shown that experienced meditators exhibit low levels of procrastination.

Mindfulness may seem unquantifiable, but its benefits aren’t.

I’ll expose my own damn self now. The reason I started researching and writing about procrastination was simple. I knew why I couldn’t get on with the book.

The solutions offered were clear and precise. But:

  1. The problems mentioned hit too close to home.
  2. The “this book changed my life” reviews were scary.
  3. The possibility of having all these answers was intimidating.
  4. The solutions were too clear and precise.

Why I stopped reading the book
It’s not me, bad time management skills, or laziness. It’s not even procrastination. As Destiny Child said: “it’s just emotion.”

More than a never-ending quest to happiness, ours is a stumble that barely resemblances a run to avoid pain and discomfort, even if that inevitably means avoiding pleasure too.

Takeaways:

-Procrastination is NOT a mental illness
-“Procrastination is an emotion-focused coping strategy to deal with negative emotions.”
-Our hatred of procrastination stems from our hatred of discomfort.
-It’s not a willpower issue, but an emotional one.
-More meditation = better self-regulation = less procrastination

Dealing with negative emotions sucks, but doesn’t being stuck?! Your unfinished project IS steering you towards something more significant than just procrastination.

Emotions are so powerful. Every time you procrastinate, you’re at a crossroads. You have to choose, over and over again: what’s more important to you, your goals or avoiding discomfort?

So I pass it over to you. Emotions are f*cking powerful; they’re information gold mines! If you explore how to leverage them to your benefit instead of your detriment, you’ll see massive improvements in all areas of your life.

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@delfina

I'm Delfina. In-house writer for 9+ companies, at the intersection of media, psych and tech. She/her

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