Procrastination is the devil. It’s insidious, it creeps up on you when you hadn’t planned on it, it tricks you into behaving as a worse version of yourself. It thrives on your weaknesses. I’ve been thinking about procrastination lately because I’ve been doing it. Putting off revising my novel for days until I panicked late in the week and hopped on the work I’d previously given myself to do. This happened these last two weeks. I spun my wheels in place. I worried. I suffered from low-grade anxiety. My novel wasn’t good enough, I told myself, it needed too much work, etc. (despite my husband beta reading it and having good things to say) and so I kinda ignored it.
In my defense, I did have some excuses. One of my three kids was at home, I had to drive the other two to two different day camps, then later pick them up. When I was at home for a few short hours, I struggled to focus on deep work while my at-home child practiced loud animated songs on the saxophone and piano. I’m grateful that she’s interested in music and able to work independently, but I couldn’t concentrate that well. Really though, I could have hopped onto my focus train better. I could have. It wasn’t my kids’ fault, it was mine.
A few weeks ago, I read a great article on procrastination by Tim Herrera in the New York Times. He talked about why we often don’t do the large complex task we’re supposed to and will often substitute a smaller, more meaningless task in its place. If you have a chance, check out the article, “Why Your Brain Tricks You Into Doing Less Important Tasks.” I’ve found myself chatting about it with various people. Those people have seemed to get a lot out of it too. So for today’s quote I’ll leave you with this idea.
“…people may choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows, instead of important tasks with larger outcomes, because important tasks are more difficult and further away from goal completion, urgent tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs…” In other words, researchers say, our brains trick us.
Once I realized my brain is wired to work against me, I cut myself some slack for procrastination. I forgave myself for it. Once you’re able to forgive, you’re then able to move on. And so, I wish you a productive week, whether it includes some forgivable procrastination or not.
Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.