While in the 17th century procrastination was only a concern of some overly pious reverends, it has become a main preoccupation of the whole mankind nowadays – especially since the invention of Twitter and RSS feeds, it seems. Everybody is worried about procrastinating on the tasks they should be getting done. In times of ever more efficient machines, human beings apparently should adapt – but instead of doing that, they’ll just idle around.
But consider this: First, machines don’t think. They compute. And second, procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing, as even the ancient Egyptians knew. It can just be a sign of one of the following: Either the task at hand is annoying (and should probably be avoided), or it’s a task whose carrying out still requires some thought. Outsource it to a machine, and you will never get an answer. In contrast, procrastinators generally don’t have problems finishing their stuff – they only decide to put it off… and to provide results “just in time”.
The problem then isn’t procrastination – it’s stressing out. So to prevent this, you could just embrace your inner idler and enjoy procrastinating on tasks by doing other, more enjoyable things: Work on interesting projects you never had the time for (cleaning the kitchen probably doesn’t count!), lie at the beach or, better yet, meet some friends. They will help you to relax and at the same time give you some kind of non-task-related input. This might support your idle brain to process the information it needs to solve the task you’re procrastinating on.
On the other hand, check if you are procrastinating on your life. Way too many people do that. Instead of doing stuff that matters, they just carry out tiny tasks thrown at them by others. While there will always be some tasks you cannot avoid to do – be it at school, at university, at the office, or at home – nothing will prevent you more from living your dreams than to concentrate on the urgent trivia instead of on the important few.
The classical symptom for procrastinating on your life is telling yourself you will “do that trip when you are retired”, “enroll in that course when you find the time”, “pursue your passion when you are financially independent”. During all this time you may be very productive on many minor tasks, but you will be losing your life – instead of taking it into your own hands and making big, probably difficult decisions and changes (that, like everything, start with just one tiny little step).
So as you’re reading this article on The Friendly Anarchist, think about the small and the big escapes you took this hour, today, this week: Were you procrastinating only on your tasks – or on your life?
Personal note: I am currently experiencing a lot of trouble with getting internet access in my house. Until the not so friendly, but certainly anarchistic ISP sends some guys over to fix things up, please be prepared for slow comment moderation, but feel at home like always! Thanks!