Understanding Procrastination: Separating Actions from Thoughts and Avoiding Blame
Procrastination is a term that often comes with negative connotations. It is associated with guilt, regret, and remorse, and is often blamed for missed deadlines and failures. However, the truth is that procrastination may not be the problem we think it is. In fact, the act of delaying or deferring to a future time can be a required skill in today’s information age.
With technology, there are more demands on our time, and we allow ourselves to be interrupted, reminded, and prompted to make new commitments. In such cases, it may be better to put things off until later, rather than trying to do multiple actions at the same time in the next moment. Therefore, procrastination may not be a problem, but a solution.
The Real Problem
To understand the real problem, we need to look at the situations where actual failures occur and why they had nothing to do with procrastination. For instance, if someone misses a due date, it may not necessarily be due to procrastination. It may instead be a weakness in scheduling time, not properly estimating the size of the task, or not using a calendar to determine the best time to start. In this case, what we call procrastination is a problem with the discipline of time management experts would call “personal scheduling.”
Similarly, in another case of several delays, someone may be blamed for procrastinating but may not have been lazy at all. Instead, several other events may have intervened, such as the weather not being favorable, rendering the ground unsafe for cutting the lawn. In such cases, the problem with the way we use procrastination is that it has come to mean much more than its dictionary definition, and it now carries an accusing tone filled with blame.
Separating Actions from Thoughts
The negative judgments and feelings related to procrastination don’t come from the delays, the putting off, or postponements, but instead come from our judgmental minds that have decided something or someone is to blame. It’s the negative thoughts that are producing the guilty feelings and blame, and not the actual rescheduling.
Therefore, separating our actions from our thoughts can be helpful. If we have blaming thoughts that keep returning and causing stress, using the method of Byron Katie may help free us from the harmful habit. Her method involves dealing with stressful thoughts by writing them down and applying four questions and a turnaround statement, an opposing thought. The result is a sense of relief, without the stress that typically comes with thoughts of procrastination or blame.
In conclusion, procrastination may not be the problem we think it is. While we may associate it with negative connotations and blame, the act of delaying or deferring to a future time can be a required skill in today’s information age. Instead, the real problem lies in inadequate scheduling, underestimating the size of a task, or having the wrong priorities or goals. Therefore, we should try to separate our actions from our thoughts, and avoid blaming ourselves or others for procrastinating. Instead, we can use tools like Byron Katie’s method to free ourselves from negative, stressful thoughts and bring peace of mind, which is the goal of every time management system.