Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?
Undoubtedly, many of us have procrastinated on some project or task at some point in our lives.
But that’s not necessarily bad.
The classic view of procrastination is that we shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t put off what needs to be done. We should just “do it,” as Nike suggests.
Here’s another perspective:
We’re all procrastinators because we have to be. We simply can’t do everything that needs to be done in a day. Time is limited, but our ideas of what needs doing are without boundaries:
1. Replace the bad boards on the sundeck
2. Register the kids for summer basketball camp
3. Buy a graduation gift for my oldest niece
4. Buy a father’s day gift for my dad
5. Set up a night out for my wife and me
6. Get the dog tested for heartworm disease
7. Write another chapter in aikmy book manuscript
8. Make a video explaining Morita therapy
9. (add 72 more items to this list)
As soon as we make a choice to do one thing, we are putting off doing everything else. This is unavoidable.
What we have to do is be able to make good choices of what we are going to procrastinate about. We have to do what is most important to do at any given moment and skillfully put off doing the other 79 things we could be doing. We have to become good at procrastinating.
One of the things that keeps us from procrastinating skillfully is our feelings about what we need to do. If we anticipate a task to be boring, anxiety-producing, confusing, or simply “not fun” we may choose to do something else, even though that task is really important.
Learning to coexist with unpleasant feelings is a skill – and it’s a skill that can help us be a wise procrastinator instead of a foolish one.
Feeling fearful, anxious, bored, confused, depressed, lethargic or shy . . . we learn the skill of accepting our internal feeling state and moving forward to take constructive action on what is important for us to do. This is one of the key elements of Morita therapy. We don’t let our feelings handle the driving. We do the driving. We take our feelings with us as a passenger.
On May 23, 2014 I will be teaching a 30 day online course on Taking Action, using methods and strategies from two Japanese approaches to psychological change: Morita therapy and Kaizen. So if you have something that has been in limbo for a while and needs to be finished, or, if there’s something important that you want to move forward on, this course is designed to help you take action. And while you’re making progress, you can apply what you’re learning to other areas of your life as well. You can tell your friends and family that you are taking a course in order to learn how to become a really good procrastinator.
Give up on trying to get everything done that needs to be done.
For most of us, this is simply impossible.
Stop allowing your feelings to dictate what you do and don’t do.
Take action on the things that are truly important.
What’s truly important?
That’s the right question.
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......