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The Joy of Procrastination

38/365 Puzzled
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mykl Roventine

Procrastination does not have a good reputation. He steals our productivity, robs us of achievement and runs off with the attainment of our goals.

So we protect ourselves from Procrastination with shields and swords and all manner of armor and weaponry. Sometimes we feel as if we are winning and feel pretty good about ourselves.

And yet, Procrastination finds a way to get around all of our protection, because, ultimately, there is an inexplicable joy to doing things we want to do when there are other things that need to be done.

But maybe we don’t need to protect against Procrastination. Maybe Procrastination is our friend. He certainly is very enjoyable company.

The Thrill of Being Pulled

The real joy of Procrastination is in allowing ourselves to be pulled towards whatever we are drawn to.

If we lift our heads up from our work for a moment and look around, something to the side may catch our eye.

A forbidden path. The road less travelled. Whatever you want to call it, adventure and uncertainty call to us as we look off into the periphery.

Too many times we see that thing that calls to us and ignore it, feeling we should instead keep walking the straight line that we are on now. That it will be faster and more efficient.

Procrastination allows us to wander off into the grass or into the trees to find things that we never knew existed. He alerts us to the possibility of joy.

The Infinite To-Do List

When our to-do lists reach a certain length we tend to tell ourselves that if we do not work solely from the to-do list certain doom will soon be upon us.

Procrastination tells us that this is not true.

When we hang out with Procrastination for a little while (or a long while as it may be) there always comes a time when he must go home. At this time we can go back to the items on our to-do lists, to wait for him until he comes knocking on our door again.

Procrastination may come and go, but the items on our to-do list will always be there for us. So it’s wise to catch Procrastination when he comes around and save our to-do list for when he’s not.

Getting Stuff Done

Procrastination is a fun friend, but he has a sixth sense about when we really need to get some stuff done and allows us our space to do so.

He wants to be able to pull you with him on various whims at random times of the day, but he knows that in order for this to be possible you do have to complete some of the to-do list items.

So he goes and plays with other friends, leaving you to work and be productive. Allowing you to feel good as you mark a line through those items you’ve completed.

Procrastination is not clingy. He wants to have fun with you, but he knows that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. And frankly, he has to work on his to-do list too.

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” – Scarlett O’Hara

Published inLiving

5 Comments

  1. I consider procrastination to be just the result of how we have set uyp our pain and pleasure structure. We attach certain pain to some activities (maybe long to-do lists) and pleasure to other things (maybe watching tv or going outside) so it is natural for us to avoid the pain and go after the pleasure. Only the intellect can override this.

    When we take the pleasure route then later on our intellect says we really should be doing the other things (maybe due to knowledge of long term pleasure) and that is when we finally label our process as procrastination. Really we can just work on restructuring what we associate pain and pleasure to.

  2. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Jarrod – Interesting idea. Certainly our perceptions can (and do) change. But I think a lot of people don’t do that actively.

  3. Procrastination is defined as the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks until a later time.

    It always seems that INFPs procrastinate long much more than other types, however we tend to lump avoiding evaluation with the still-in-the-evaluation process (i.e. is the task really what we should be doing?)

    If we finish something, it might not be perfect. It’s finished so we can therefore judge it to be perfect or imperfect. INFP procrastinate to avoid having to judge something their doing as less perfect than they imagined.

    The other reason we procrastinate is we can’t decide what we should be doing so we’re just doing something until we have enough information to decide. So we start a task and as we do the task we do other things to help us decide if our initial task was really what we should be doing. Sometimes doing this other thing gives us a basis of comparison. Sometimes, doing this other thing gives us space and takes our mind off the incessant need of productivity in order to decide that we didn’t really need the result of that task. That’s why INFP abandon so many projects.

  4. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Corin – Your second point particularly resonated with me. The “I’m not sure what I should be doing so I’ll just look around Twitter for a bit.” I’ve definitely had that experience, and it really is just putting off making a decision. In a way, it’s related to your first point about not wanting to have to judge something. In both cases it’s not the activity we are putting off but the decision making/judgment of it.

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