I had thought about writing on procrastination last week 🙂
Well, when it comes to procrastination, there are three things I wish to cover:
- Procrastination is not always bad. There are benefits, depends on what you do when u are delaying the activity.
- The opposite of Procrastination, yes, there is something called Pre-castination, also has its own challenges. Its proven through studies that the creativity is highest among people who take a little more time to start an activity.
- The key question that you need to answer in either of the two cases, is WHY?
Why do you wish to do the activity that you are supposed to do. Just like an onion peeling process, keep asking why questions till you have a crystal clear understanding of why you decided to do something in the first place and then you will be able to decide:
- Do I really really have to do it?
- Do I have to do it right now?
- Am I prepared to start or there is something I need to complete before I start.
Lets take an example. The biggest victim of procrastination are new year resolutions. These are difficult to do anyway, and hence are pushed all the way from months of Jan (yeah, of the previous year) to Jan 1 of the new year. Thees are activities that are second nature to the person wanting to do it. A not so fit person deciding to start running or gymming. A plump (perceives oneself to be plump, is better way to put it) person decides to go on a diet. A boring person (that’s what one is labelled when one does not have ANY hobby worth talking about in social meetups, when in reality its not so bad) decides to take up a hobby, say cooking.
Now to simplify this further. Lets take the example of the person who believes he (most often its she, but let me not make this a gender debate and controversial discussion), so let me use the gender neutral term (its cool, nowadays!!) ‘they’. They believe that they are not fit and need to start going to the gym.
- Who decided they are not fit?
- probably they themselves, just because they compared themselves to some relatively fitter people, who might be fit because of their genes and family history and might not have been doing anything exceptional to stay fit. We all know of at least one person, who eats whatever he/she wants and never seems to gain a gram or inch of extra weight, right?
- Or someone in their friend/family, who, in most cases, are not themselves some ultra fit (I have never ever seen a fit person making fun of or coaxing a ‘not so fit’ person to go gymming. they will casually suggest, but not mock or put pressure.
- What is the level to reach that will make them feel they are ‘fit now’ ? never defined. There would be some random plans, like “i want to loose 2 kgs in 2 weeks” or “two inches around the waist line” or ” I should be able to fit into my favourite dress’ , etc. These are all signs of an immature and random plan. Plans which are random, are the ones that are most likely to go nowhere.
- Is Gymming the only way to get fit? This is where most people go wrong. pick up fitness activity WITHOUT a corresponding diet plan. And diet plan does not just mean taking the protein shake after the Gym session. It would mean a complete revamp of the diet all through the day, all through the week, all through months, years and life. Yes. Changes in diet need to be sustained for a long time, to not only yield the intended result, but for you to REMAIN fit. Yes, there would be cheat meals and some relaxation, but invariably, an overhaul in the diet is needed for sustained fit body.
- Are you sure you want to do it alone? can u tag along or do with someone else, so that each of you can keep a tab on each other. Trust me, the chances of success (or failure also :-(), just doubles if you have one more person doing it. No, it does not go up 4 times if you have three more people doing ti. Now u are getting greedy 😉
- Is the Gym nearby? U have a good commute plan to go to the Gym? Is the gym good? Do u have a good trainer? Sometimes, some or all of these issues might end up being the reason why you don’t go to the gym or stop going after a while. If the answers to all these questions are not a resounding yes, then look at either converting them to a ‘yes’, or take up another activity, lot more simpler and equally effective (to start with), like running (no, I am not saying this because I love running !!). or cycling, for that matter.
This was the core that I wanted to cover, when I said “Start with Why”. In most of the cases when we decide to take up an activity, we are not clear WHY we decided to do it in the first place. As Victor Frankl has rightly said in life changing book, Man’s search for Meaning:
He who knows the ‘why’ for his existence will be able to bear almost any ‘how. ‘
Once we have addressed the “Why” part, lets handle the Pre-castination part.
Why, at times, doing an activity proactively, earlier than planned, can backfire, because it might turn out to be a redundant activity. Say, just to to make sure that I do not miss out on good seats in the upcoming IPL, I proactively buy tickets at a premium. And then it turns out that due to absence of lot of star players, the match did not attract too much interest and the tickets were selling at a discount as the stadium was half empty. OK, i took a lame example far removed from the NY resolutions use case. But you got the point, there will always be instances where being early or before time might not command any special benefit and might even lead to a marginal loss at times.
How procrastination can be good? is simply explained if we look at the ‘Start with Why’ activity above. The very purpose of explaining it in detail, was to demonstrate that if, the person who is procrastinating, utilises the time spent thinking, in answering these questions, then, either, they will be better prepared to do the activity (and ensure continuity and guarantee success) or will have a foolproof logical reason for dropping the plan completely.
However, there is no sympathy for anyone who procrastinates and does not utilise the time spent in delaying the activity. They have no place in this society and will be labelled as ‘Losers’ for life !! Of course, I am just kidding. These people typical have these challenges as they are not positive oriented at that particular phase in life, mind is disturbed or distracted due to a completely different reason (girlfriend ditched him and did not show up for the NY party, and so on) and the poor Gym bears the brunt! That’s the other factor which would be worthwhile to assess. What are the ecosystem or boundary conditions that prevent one from doing an activity. And once those boundary condition issues are sorted (Girlfriend called and apologised and had a genuine reason for not showing up), one needs to get back to the ‘why’ing board and get the gym plan back on track.
There is a great article on the benefits of procrastination on creativity, which I would highly recommend for a more evolved learning on the topic:
One last request: If you liked the article, please DO NOT PROCRASTINATE on chipping in with a comment. There are absolutely NO BENEFITS in delaying such a kind act !!;-)