I just saw an article in the NY Times about a conference on procrastination and was reminded of my recent post about the tyranny of our culture with completing things, basically the same thing as looking upon procrastination as being lazy and unproductive. The article link is:
I have been procrastinating publishing a post here. I wrote a rambling post on social anxiety the other day, but it was in need of too much editing, so I left it unfinished as a draft.
I always have a running list of posts to do, topics to talk about:
I start series of posts about topics and leave them and maybe post a bunch of pieces and then drop off and forget about them:
I still could post more on interesting cultural rituals around the world in service of people being more respectful and interested in how other humans deal with birth, different age markers, coming of age, commitment ceremonies and birthdays, and funerals and burial of the dead. I was doing it regularly and dropped it.
I recently started a series of posts on the “Selfie” and even had a list of topics to cover.
More on Altered Books a big passion of mine, especially as I’m doing a workshop in a few weeks and have not planned it yet…
Social anxiety and common misconceptions about it.
More on gender non connformity, transgender, etc. Started up the topic recently
Been meaning to post about yoga and how it complements therapy and other ways it enhances life.
Connected to yoga, there is the, how do you integrate a daily practice into your life without feeling like you are tyranizing yourself with yet something else you “have” to do a certain amount per week, the danger of any yoga or exercise , physical activity program. No matter how spiritual it may be, it could become the thing you are avoiding and trying to do on a regular basis.
Ayurvedic medicine and how it makes sense to see people as having very different systems…
Ok, back to Procrastination and getting more done, and procrastination and “laziness”. Doing nothing has become of course a huge business, “Meditation”. Books, CDs, podcasts, programs, etc. all on meditation which simply amounts to sitting quietly doing nothing but breathing and noticing your breath.
What is the difference between meditation and laziness? One big difference is posture. Even if you lie on a mat in the “Savasana” corpse pose while meditating, you are still keeping your body in a definite position and have as a constant check in just noticing what is going on in your body. And more commonly people sit up straight while meditating, so for so called new comers to meditation, most of it becomes about how uncomfortable it can be to sit up straight on a mat for even five minutes and just breathe without scratching itches. Definitely when being lazy, it is preferable to have your body in a very bad posture, like that of sitting curled against pillows in bed, half lying and half sitting up, the very opposite of keeping your spine in alighnment. Laziness also can involve doing mindless things like watching TV. Really lying around and doing mostly nothing is actually pretty challenging to most people, and probably easier to do if they have to pay attention to accomplishing something and noticing when they are bad at it, namely, sitting up straight. We are so goal oriented that really doing nothing is pretty impossible. In the article above, the author sites a Russian novel I read long ago about a man who spends most of his life in bed doing nothing. I read it in college so I remember little about it, but I know it was a fun read even though it was 500 pages and not much happened.
Have you heard of the hierarchy of procrastination, not covered in this article? I read a great post on it years ago by a professor who had a whole blog about procrastination. Basically we all have a list whether we write it or not, a kind of pyramid with the thing you are most avoiding at the top, the impossible thing you hardly believe you will be able to do and finish, which you are constantly avoiding and spend a lot of time thinking about and thinking about how you are not doing it, then below that is something else you need to do that you are procrastinating as well. The list continues with the tasks you need to do and use up time getting them done while procrastinating the top challenges, basically increasing your productivity but not in the central focus, in the sidelines. How we tend to proceed is to actually get a lot done through the art of procrastination. Suddenly you have cleaned your room and folded your clothes and organized them by color, while avoiding going to the store to buy ingredients to cook something healthy and also avoiding finishing the article, essay or paper or even thesis or book that you have at the top of your pyramid. Weeks may go by before you buy ingredients to cook something healthy because you are doing the things that seem “easier” to you, the things lower on your personal pyramid. For example, I have started taking iphone photos of an altered book to post on my art website and started posting them but left off the task as it seemed just one small part of a monumental overhaul of website and having to add new work to it; I put away a lot of summer clothes and started putting away winter clothes but theres a mountain of more winter clothes to sort and fold, so that is about three different organized tasks that have an end or completion that are now being procrastinated. I guess my example disproves the idea that you can get a lot done and completed while procrastinating. My art of procrastination involves continually creating more things that get half done or done half assed or not completed but started. It’s the starting something that begins procrastination for me.
One tip this guy had was to try to trick yourself into swapping the top of the pyramid with something else so you would get the thesis done while avoiding quitting smoking. Not sure how effective this tip is for most people.
However, as the Times article suggests, let’s just drop effectiveness and productivity in place of letting ourselves sit in our messes and enjoy all the incomplete half done things, when too pressured to get something done or start again, just take a nap.
I am most amazed at one thing that has happened to me in this arena of procrastinating. I procrastinate things for years, not just months, so I have gotten used to somewhat accepting this. I was doing yoga about twice a week around 7-8 years ago. I spent the last 7-8 years completely avoiding yoga. I barely stretched since 2007. Info, I used to be very into yoga and then toned it down but still liked it regularly, so it was strange to juststop altogther but I had got into that rut where you want to do it less the more time you don’t do it. Anyway I finally got myself going on my summervacation and jumped back into it….
I will finish this later. I had a long rambling thing that makes sense but I am too lazy to finish the train of thought, or to edit this, mispellings and all…