‘Tis the month of April and fools alike! I thankfully was not the receiver of any pranks on April 1st; that I know of anyway. Instead I took a trip to the theatre to see Billy Elliot before it closed. I had wanted to see it since it opened some ten years ago, but true to form I just kept saying “eventually, eventually”, until I got kicked up the bum and into action when I saw that the show’s run was coming to an end. So this time at least, I beat procrastination.
I’ve always encouraged a bit of procrastination in myself and others, thinking of it not as a time wasting exercise, but a pause in between tasks that you should be doing. I also, for a long time found that it fuelled my own creativity, especially during my master’s and undergrad degrees. Whenever I was supposed to be writing an essay I hated or studying for an exam I was sure I would fail, I would instead take out my notebook and write some poetry. At the time I just thought it was my brain’s way of relaxing and de-stressing through the catharsis of poetry writing, but actually it was my way of giving time to the thing I really wanted to do, even if I didn’t know it yet.
But I procrastinate less productively now, even with writing things. This week I had some writing deadlines that for the life of me I couldn’t get started. I watched the TV show Friends, I pottered about my new flat and chatted on the phone with actual friends. But sitting down to write something that I found quite interesting suddenly felt like a chore.
It felt like my equilibrium was off, and whatever I was feeling was affecting my ability to finish a task. I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly, but I suspect that it might be to do with my mind getting used to my change in surroundings, and not having to fight against an environment I disliked, in order to get work done.
And that used to be my thing: if I was surrounded by chaos and external anxiety, I could always get some equilibrium by creating my own world of order or disorder in the form of a poem or story. Whereas now, there’s nothing to push back against, to motivate me to work hard.
This is merely a theory, but I plan to test it out this month: What is the basis for my procrastination? Do I need chaos in order to get things done? And if so, surely it can’t be that hard to find chaos right?
I know, I know; be careful what you wish for.
Image credit: Galapagos turtle by parkjisun from the Noun Project