“Again?” I think to myself. “Why are you on your phone again, put that thing away. There are far more important things to do. You have to be more productive.” I throw my phone on my bed and look at the screen. The editing software is open, and I know I have to edit some videos. I just don’t feel like it. A feeling of resistance, but also discomfort is present within me. I feel that if I start editing I might get stressed out. Editing videos is not what I want to be doing right now. I close the tap and open YouTube.
Before long I find myself wasting another gorgeous hour of my life on watching YouTube videos. Procrastinating on the tasks I have to get done. Instead of looking into why I am procrastinating, I start to watch videos on how to overcome it. How to beat procrastination. All tips, and tricks on being more productive with your time, and get as much done as possible. I think to myself: “Is this really how the rest of my life will play out? Me procrastinating on the tasks I have to do. Me trying to be more productive, pushing away the feeling of procrastination. Does it really mean that my work life will be a constant battle against procrastination?”
I hear the voice of the YouTuber speaking, but the words don’t make sense. I feel that I can’t ever beat procrastination. Because to beat it means I have to fight, and I don’t want to fight my way through life. I want to flow through life. Effortlessly. So, is there a way to approach procrastination, to deal with it, in a wholesome, and mindful way? That’s making my work life more pleasant, instead of a battle each day again.
Can We Beat Procrastination?
I start to look into it. Why do we want to beat procrastination? Why do we want to rid our lives of it? This is an important question because productivity has become the go-to topic when it comes to working. And to be productive we must beat procrastination, if we don’t we will postpone working, and that’s not productive. Yet that always begs the question with me. Why do we want to get rid of procrastination?
Do we want to get rid of it so we can be more productive? Well, why do we want to be productive then? Probably not because we just want to get a lot done? But more because we feel good about ourselves when we get a lot done. Doesn’t that mean we want to get rid of procrastination because it makes us feel bad? Because we know we have to work? Because we know we have to get things done? Surely that’s the case, that procrastination itself isn’t the problem, but that because we procrastinate we feel bad, we feel unproductive, and because we feel unproductive we feel bad about ourselves. Maybe even a bit guilty, knowing that we could have done more.
So is beating procrastination, getting rid of it, the way to go? Let’s say we do. And we start beating procrastination with various techniques and tricks. Does that feeling of procrastination go away? Or are we just pushing it further on?
So is beating procrastination, getting rid of it, the way to go? Let’s say we do. And we start beating procrastination with various techniques and tricks. Like habits, to-do lists, and so on. Does that feeling of procrastination go away? Or are we just pushing it further on? So that it can come back the next time we get to work? After all, that’s what happens. Today you might have to write something for school, or you have to get a task done at work. You don’t want to do it and feel that you want to procrastinate. So you push yourself to do it, to beat your procrastination. Which pushes it away. Then tomorrow as you have to start a new task you surely feel that procrastination rising within you again.
So are we beating procrastination? Or are we just procrastinating, the feeling of procrastinating? I think that I’ve been postponing the feeling of procrastination for myself. By tricking myself, by pushing myself, so that I feel more productive. Yet over and over again the procrastination returned, so I wasn’t actually beating it, it just kept returning. Beating my procrastination felt tiring, it felt exhausting because I knew that I would never win this battle. It would always return. Isn’t beating procrastination therefore a destructive way of dealing with it?
Beating procrastination is a destructive way of dealing with procrastination. It only postpones things, tiring you over time, which will only lead to more procrastination.
It must be because when I tried to beat it, overcome it, get rid of it, I found myself more and more tired. As time progressed, I felt more and more resistance to the tasks I had to get done. Because the tasks I had to do started to get connected with the feeling of fighting, struggle, and discomfort in order to overcome procrastination. Beating procrastination is a destructive way of dealing with procrastination. It only postpones things, tiring you over time, which will only lead to more procrastination. Beating, and getting rid of procrastination is making you feel increasingly less alive, it devalues the beautiful experience of being alive. That is because we are denying a part of living. A feeling we have of discomfort that causes us to procrastinate.
Which made me think, why do we procrastinate?
The Origin of Procrastination
If we truly want to rid our lives of procrastination, that is that we can find peace with it, we should learn to understand it. In order to understand procrastination we should look at the root. The core of why we procrastinate. Let’s say that you and I have to reply to about 10 emails. We both don’t like replying to these emails, yet we know it’s important we do. These emails contain messages of people we work for and emails of future clients. They take time to answer, which means we have to carve out some of our precious life to do something we don’t like.
We resist answering emails, we resist doing the dishes, we resist starting new projects, all in the hope to be free of these uncomfortable feelings.
Now that’s why we procrastinate. We don’t like to do it. Why don’t we like to do it? Because we feel it has no purpose. No value. Think about all the tasks you commonly procrastinate. Like doing the dishes, replying to emails, but also starting new projects. All these are things we either don’t like to do or are scary, to begin with. This in both cases means they make us feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied, therefore we resist it. We resist answering emails, we resist doing the dishes, we resist starting new projects, all in the hope to be free of these uncomfortable feelings. Now that’s why we procrastinate. Not just because we don’t like doing them, or because we are lazy. We do it because if we do start we know we have to face these uncomfortable feelings of fear, discontentment, or unease.
You see, when you don’t want to do the dishes, it is not because of the dishes. Doing the dishes is just a task. Something to do. Yet you, beforehand, think about doing the dishes. You start to make a misery out of it. You resist doing them because you think you don’t like them. But the only reason you don’t like doing the dishes is that you actively choose to not like them. If you wouldn’t think about doing the dishes, and just do it surely you’ll see that it’s not that bad at all. You might even enjoy doing them. Popping soap bubbles, listening to music, enjoying the gratifying feeling of seeing dirty dishes getting clean with every wipe off a sponge.
If you wouldn’t think about doing the dishes, and just do it surely you’ll see that it’s not that bad at all. You might even enjoy doing them.
The reason we procrastinate is that we do not want to face an uncomfortable feeling. That uncomfortable feeling is only created in our thoughts. It’s not actually true. It’s a thought, a belief we have created for ourselves. And beliefs, and thoughts we can let go and should let go. By doing that, by letting them go not just our productive life will benefit, but all of our lives enjoyment will benefit. This is the question of how procrastination can benefit our lives.
The Benefit of Procrastination
Although I believed that getting rid of procrastination, of beating it, was the way to go, a deeper understanding of procrastination has made me realize that we can’t get rid of it. It’s just as much part of life as productivity is. It’s only that we prescribe more meaning to productivity than procrastination. If we can turn that belief, and draw value even from procrastination, surely it won’t be as bad as we think.
Just observe yourself. The way you live. You aren’t a machine that does everything most effectively and productively possible. It would be a dull life. Just imagine living a life in which you did what you had to do perfectly effectively and productive. There wouldn’t be any enjoyment. Because enjoyment comes largely from awareness, cheerfulness, and spontaneity. Doing the dishes as effectively as possible saves us time, but it also means we don’t enjoy doing them. If we instead learn to enjoy doing the dishes, we might not be as effective in doing them, but our experience of life will have significantly improved for the better.
Instead of asking ourselves the question “how can we get rid of procrastination?” We should ask ourselves “How can we use procrastination?” Now that’s a way better question to ask, because now we are searching for a way procrastination can benefit our lives, instead of taking away from it. This means that it’s no longer an enemy to beat, but a friend to work with. It should be your company, your spouse.
Instead of asking ourselves the question “how can we get rid of procrastination?” We should ask ourselves “How can we use procrastination?”
I’ve found through observing my feeling of procrastination that it has one lesson for us. A lesson we deny by beating it and trying to be more productive. That is the power of creativity. You see, we aren’t robots, we can’t be productive all the time, for good reason. Life would be dull, as I explained. That’s why we want to procrastinate things, it’s our body asking for time to wander in thoughts. To rest and recharge, and to be creative. Yet we deny it that time by pushing on, by forcing ourselves to be productive.
Like everything in this life, it serves a purpose. It’s something to embrace instead of denying. Procrastination is just like that. It serves to give us reminders to take a break. Real breaks, not the breaks where we scroll on social media or watch YouTube videos as I did. That’s not procrastinating, that’s yet again doing something. Procrastinating means we don’t do anything. We just do nothing. And be for a moment. If we do that procrastination can serve us, by giving us time to think, to feel, to be creative, to recharge. So procrastination isn’t as bad as we think. It’s not the enemy. It can be our friend with this one wholesome approach to dealing with procrastination.
A Wholesome Approach
There’s one approach that I find is what gives procrastination meaning. This approach brings value to our lives instead of deriving it. This approach is very simple. The next time you feel like procrastinating, which means you have an urgency to watch social media, or YouTube, or doing something else other than the task at hand, do nothing. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort of procrastination for some time. Stare out in front of you. Wander away in thoughts for a while. It’s okay to do nothing, there is tremendous productivity in that because you allow your focus to recharge, and you allow your creativity to flow freely.
Just be for a moment. Be mindful of the feeling of discomfort. Be mindful of whatever you think. You will try to get rid of the feeling by doing something, try not to resist that feeling. Allow it to be, observe it. Feel it. Boredom will come up, a sense of worthlessness will come up.
It’s that simple. Just be for a moment. Be mindful of the feeling of discomfort. Be mindful of whatever you think. You will try to get rid of the feeling by doing something, try not to resist that feeling. Allow it to be, observe it. Feel it. Boredom will come up, a sense of worthlessness will come up. All of this is fine. Let it be. Feel it. Experience it. Maybe write down what thoughts you have if you’d like that. Do this for as long as you like. The feeling of procrastination will get less discomforting, and you’ll derive more value from it over time.
If you do decide to continue working with a feeling of resistance, a feeling of wanting to procrastinate that’s fine. Just be aware of the feeling. You can also continue working, continue doing what you are doing, and feel the discomfort of procrastinating and not resisting it. As long as you are aware of this feeling, of this sensation, everything is fine, because you are not resisting life to flow freely. This means you are allowing yourself to stay alive, to stay aware, and that will only result in more and more enjoyment of your life. It will help you say at the end of your day that, today you lived. You made the most of it.
I know feeling this discomfort can be challenging that’s why I’ve created a free guided meditation you can listen to on my podcast Just Now. This meditation, or reflective moment, however you’d like to call it, will help you go through the feeling of procrastination and derive value from it. You can listen to this every time you feel that resistance and procrastination come up. By allowing this feeling in, you allow life to flow freely, and that free flow will allow joy, cheerfulness, and liveliness to enter you. Listen to the podcast by clicking this LINK