There are many articles, guides, books, podcasts, videos, systems and processes out there to help us reduce procrastination as much as possible, because we could be so much more productive if we stopped wasting time and just got on with things.
But sometimes we feel fatigued, worn out, by the what we’ve been working on. The to do list seems endless, the project seems insurmountable and no matter how many individual steps you reduce your next task into, you just can’t bring yourself to take that first step.
So what do you do?
And then what happens?
You feel a little better.
Yes, procrastination is a productivity killer and you shouldn’t allow yourself to spend hours of your time mindlessly surfing the web to avoid doing the things you should be doing, but you should also be taking regular breaks.
Most sources of good productivity advice agree that one of the keys to being productive is rewarding yourself with regular breaks, interludes between what you just finished doing and what you’re going to do next. We all know the theory, but putting it into practice is the real challenge.
The truth is, it is all too easy for us to sit and just work and work and work and work. We exhaust ourselves but feel pride in our focus and dedication to getting all of the jobs done. But then procrastination eventually starts creeping in and shortly after that the guilt of knowing that you didn’t do your best.
Procrastination is our sub-conscious solution to the problem of not giving ourselves enough breaks. If you’re the kind of person who struggles to take regular breaks, like me, then procrastinating is one of the ways in which you get to take breaks when you’ve been working hard.
So I appreciate and even embrace my procrastinating habit when it shows up. I let myself get distracted with a few little things, my phone, reading a blog, chatting with colleagues, looking up random things I suddenly thought about. I enjoy the act of procrastinating at the time that it happens, appreciate the break, and then allow myself to get into doing what I know I should be doing.
I don’t make myself feel guilty, I indulge myself a little and then bring myself back to where I should be.
Some days I notice myself procrastinating a bit more often, and maybe I get less done than I hoped I would at the beginning of the day, but I still don’t blame myself for those days. I take notice of how frequently I let myself procrastinate and get distracted and try to do something about it. Maybe when my lunch break comes around and I go out for a walk, I spend more time noticing things around me instead of reading or running errands. Or after work I take a longer route home or stop off somewhere and spend some time reading. In the most extreme cases when I really need a break (because I haven’t given myself enough), I’ll spend most of a weekend lounging around at home watching Netflix and ordering in, not getting to the things I should be doing.
It’s okay to procrastinate, just make sure you know you’re doing it and then move on. And don’t feel guilty, you can be productive later.