The general consensus is that procrastination is an ineffectual use of time, that it’s certainly not productive and it is seen as a thief of our goals and our dreams. To a certain extent, that is true.
On many occasions, I have put off doing what is in actual fact really important to me, for example, my writing. Writing is precious to me and I have a big purpose to help, inspire and motivate people through it. Generally, when I write, I feel fully alive, connected with myself and with my true calling. So you’d wonder why, on a day I plan to write, I find myself doing all manner of other things, like cleaning the bathroom, tidying my desk, sorting out paperwork, replying to emails, browsing Facebook, chatting to friends on the phone and, oh I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but yes, watching Daytime TV. I even caught myself glued to ‘Psychic Sally On The Road’ the other day! I came to, and immediately reached for the remote control, exclaiming out loud, “What the **** am I doing?!”
Now I’m sure you can relate to this, perhaps not with writing, but with something else you might similarly be passionate about achieving.
Well, here’s the thing. Sometimes, but not always, procrastination is a part of the process and can actually help you to achieve your goals, particularly with creative endeavours. You may be familiar with Archimedes’ ‘Eureka’ moment in the bath. Paradoxically, it’s often when we’re not thinking of or working on the idea, that we get an inspiration for the idea.
Dr. Paul Howard-Jones, a reader in Neuroscience and Education at the University of Bristol, says that a change in context or environment can help us to come up with new ideas, working to take us away from the obvious things that are associated with the task at hand. In this way, we stand a chance of being newly inspired, revisiting our work with a fresh perspective.
So if you yen to do something different that could be enjoyable and perhaps relaxing but has nothing to do with your project, remember it could be helping you by creating ‘space’ in your brain to allow new inspirations to land.
This has often worked in my case. Many times when I have been chatting to friends on the phone, which by the way is another way I can procrastinate, I will get an idea for my writing through our conversation. When I hang up the receiver, the laptop or notebook comes out and I quickly jot down the ideas.
The other day whilst watching television, I suddenly got the answer to a problem I’ve been having with one of my characters in a novel I’m working on. I heard a word on the show I was half watching, and there it was, clear as day: I got his motivation.
I believe procrastinating is a necessary part of creativity. It allows us to create space to receive information, ideas and inspiration, but only if you remain open to and present to your idea, your passion, your creation. If your goal is in your heart, your mind, your being, then you will pick up signals, ideas and inspirations, even when your focus isn’t on the thing itself.
Next time you’re scrubbing the bath, changing the bed, walking the dog, reading a magazine, or watching daytime TV…actually no, I draw a line at daytime TV, resist the temptation to beat yourself up and see it instead as time potentially well spent. Creativity isn’t just about output; it is also about preparing the ground and preparing you, the channel for creative expression.
Have the Courage to Connect with those moments of reflection, relaxation, pursuits and pastimes that are not directly related to your task; they could be gifts that contribute to, rather than steal away your dreams.