“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Creative Procrastination – Make putting things off work for you

cartoon from invisiblebread.com
I don’t like to boast, but I am a championship level procrastinator. I challenge anyone to put off doing stuff as well as I do. My tax return is due, and I also have several assignment deadlines for my Masters course. And what am I doing? Writing this blog!

Several friends are up there with me in the championship stakes, they are all cleaning behind the fridge, browsing vintage standard lamps on Ebay, researching the mating cycle of common toads and pretty much anything except the very thing that they are supposed to be doing. And the more people I ask, the more I am sure that, despite what we’re telling Facebook, most of us are out there doing exactly not the thing we are meant to be doing!

Although chronic, many of my procrastination activities do seem to have a purpose, in that they do mostly result in some sort of useful or creative output. I have come to call this Creative Procrastination. As I write I have several deadlines looming - among them the University assignments and tax return mentioned above. But I am doing anything and everything other than those things. In another act of Creative Procrastination, I have turned my championship level procrastination skills into a bit of a joke with my friends and family, all of us vying for leadership of the championship stakes. So I asked them “what are your favourite Creative Procrastination activities”

Here is my distilled list of our top five ways to Procrastinate Creatively.

1. Cleaning

Cleaning is top of the list of favourite procrastination activities. I found myself vacuuming the yesterday as one of my several delay tactics, and although I was definitely procrastinating, the floor still needed to be vacuumed, so it wasn’t a waste of my time. But there is more to cleaning the house than simple task avoidance. We simply work and think better in a clean, tidy and ordered space. Cleaning may feel like procrastination but actually our instinct to create order is essential in facilitating our creativity.

2. Meditation

We know that regular meditation decreases our stress levels and this not only improves our overall sense of well-being, it boosts our immunity and makes us less prone to stress related illnesses. Among the other myriad benefits of a regular meditation practice, however, is enhanced creativity. Spending a short time each day meditation frees up mental space and helps us focus on what we really need to do.

3. Artistic Pursuits

As a writer, I usually find myself writing about this other than the things I am supposed to be writing about. This blog is one of them. But my output is never wasted. I have come up with some of my better ideas in the course of avoiding another writing task. You might spend time drawing, painting or crafting, making music or dancing. Often the creative ideas and solutions emerge when we let go of having to do them and do something equally creative instead.

4. Cooking

Some of us spend our procrastination time making healthy home-cooked dinners. One benefit of this is that we can maybe stock our fridge or freezer for when we do get our heads down to doing the important work. Taking time to commit to nourishing ourselves, is also about nourishing our creativity. Cooking is also, in itself, a wonderfully creative activity. And we get to eat the results!

5. Gardening

If you are lucky enough to have a garden or a space to grow things - then grow things! Gardening is known to have many positive effects on physical and mental wellbeing, with
the added sense of having achieved something, and produced an end result in the plants, flowers and vegetables that grow. You also get to light big fires!

Even if our procrastination activities themselves are not particularly creative, the very act of procrastination itself has been shown to boost productivity and creativity. So even if our procrastination takes the shape of staring out of the window, browsing Pinterest, or playing Minecraft, we are giving our brains the space they need to be more effective, more creative and more productive. Doing anything other than the thing, actually helps us find the creativity, energy and motivation to finally do the thing and do it better than if we hadn’t put it off.

1 comment:

  1. I came across your blog through my procrastination....Facebook comments etc. and guess what ? Yes I feel better, so much so I’ll share it with my son. I work with young children and actively encourage daydreaming. Gazing out of windows (my school has a wonderful wildlife filled field) seems to consolidate the teaching input. My eldest and creative son was often admonished for this, and I can understand the staff’s frustration, but without applying ones own calming imagination where’s the original thought and invention.
    Happy Sunday!