The Whims and Fancies of Procrastination
The underlying message every article on procrastination, whether found on the internet, newspaper or health and well-being magazine; is that procrastination is a headache, several cups of coffee, and a good old writer’s block.
Even the prodigies are not immune to this infection. Famous personalities such as Dalai Lama to Charles Dickens and even the greatest melodramatic fictional characters like Shakespeare’s Hamlet are proven procrastinators. It’s reassuring to know there are other chronic procrastinator’s out there. And fellow procrastinators, take heart for if these people gained recognition and success, chances are that any procrastinator can turn their toxic relationship to a healthy symbiotic one, for the better.
But little good does this knowledge do to console the idle minds of procrastinators reading this. On the bright side, one study conducted in twenty countries shows that more often than not, these handful of people end up clearing the least impending part of their to-do list, as a means to avoid the one task weighing most heavily on their shoulders. As a result, the chores you would’ve lugged on forever and a half, gets done and dusted in the heat of the moment and bout of laziness. Be it dusting your home or paying the gym a visit.
Let’s face it, no matter how you try to glorify it with menial tasks, procrastination is that one hate-hate relationship everyone is secretly guilty of harbouring. We all have a small conscience nagging us at the back of our mind, telling us that there’s plenty of time to finish that essay due far too soon, tomorrow. It wouldn’t hurt if those funny cat videos on the internet get a few extra views, would it? Before you know it, that one cat video leads to another and we fall down a net-surfing spiral which ends with the cake of regret. That small voice in your head is suddenly domineering, and consequently destroying your life. The question is, how do we fight it?
Speaking from experience, there is a sprinkle of vacillation in even the seemingly most organised humans. Procrastination is a more radical form of hesitation, as in short it is downright laziness. In Hindu belief, the god Shiva is the destroyer of creation. But delve a little deeper and you’ll realise he is also the destroyer of ignorance, laziness, jealousy, ego and hatred. All these negative traits are represented in the demon ‘Apasmara Purusha’. Shiva performs a powerful dance, crushing the demon under his feet, there are numerous idols of Lord Shiva with the demon flailing under his feet. This particular conquest of Shiva has made him and his practise of ‘Yog’ (Yoga) and meditation immensely popular, even amongst other religions and the western world. It is scientifically proven that Yoga and meditation drastically improve focus and determination, as well as strengthening your body and most importantly mind and soul to have the willpower to say ‘no’ to derailing temptations.
Looking into the mind of a procrastinator, these are exactly the qualities missing. Lack of concentration and stamina to get through a task is where procrastinators fall short from other people. Whilst it is relatively easy to throw oneself wholeheartedly into an enjoyable, leisure activity, life is not all fun and games. The real test of patience and inner strength is brought out in people when they deal with tedious chores and how an inconvenient situation can bring out the best or worst of them. Procrastinators often fall into the latter category. But take heart, there is a solution. But no solution is an easy way out. Keep your groans to yourselves. The first, as mentioned above, is Yoga and meditation. Even as little as two minutes of meditation on any one object can do immeasurable good. Secondly, adopt a mantra, for example the infamous Nike slogan; ‘Just do it.’ And abide by it religiously. Lastly, every time you make a choice, try to foresee the impact that action will have in the future. Even being aware of procrastinating while doing so, can make a big difference. Every time you make the right choice, it will be easier to do the same the next time.
However, when down in the dumps it doesn’t hurt to draw inspiration from more infamous, human figures. Tim Urban, a cherry of the many master procrastinators the world has to offer, gave a Ted Talk on the disputed topic of procrastination. One thing that he said which especially hit home, was neither a fact nor an opinion, but the cold, hard truth. The truth is regardless of your relationship with procrastination is unhealthy or not, the average lifetime only has so many boxes per week. And every time we fill a box in this ‘life calendar’. It ultimately decides if you look back at your life at the threshold of death, with regret or satisfaction. I’ve heard countless accounts of ‘your life flashing past your eyes’ a few seconds prior to death. And I’m bent on making the best of my life to let those few seconds give me a greater sense of achievement, fulfilment and above all, peace.
The choice is in every individual’s hands. The next time something insignificant comes up like ‘do the dishes or eat cake’. I wholeheartedly suggest you go with your gut (or stomach) and eat the cake before it spoils. I shall not torture you with ‘cake’ anymore. So, bake one, buy one, and celebrate your journey to a productive life. Then do the dishes. Sooner or later.