There are some days that I just have something that I’m just dying to talk about, and I knock this thing out in like an hour.
Other days, *ahem* today… I have no idea what to talk about, and I don’t finish writing until some wee hour of the morning. I would apologize, just like I apologize constantly for being like seven minutes late to things, but… it’s kinda just who I am, and I can’t really help that.
“Discipline!”, you might say. You’re not wrong. However, optimism will always triumph over the rigidity of habit and good feeling of being somewhere on time. Those five minutes before leaving the apartment in the morning just seem too valuable to pass up… so, you start to make an omelet. Or decide to reorganize your sock drawer. Or perhaps feel the need to sit down and write a song, even though you haven't done that in six months. And there’s nothing in your brain that says that it isn’t a good idea. It’s just creative, optimistic, stoked on life, you.
Maybe you’re nothing like me at all. Maybe you’re stellar with time management and prioritization and general focus in life. Good for you. (Teach me?) But the thing is, is procrastination really as bad as we all make it out to be? Like, why is it the bane of so many people’s professional careers and the annoyance of all responsibility enforcers in the world?
There’s a brilliant TED talk that really changed my perspective on procrastination. In fact, here it is: https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator?language=en
I’m not gonna steal Tim Urban’s thunder and tell you exactly what he talks about (also, cause I want you to actually watch it…), but I’ll just kinda steal one of his points and make it one of mine.
Not all procrastination is created equally.
There have been so many instances in my life where if I didn’t have the pressure of a due date, deadline, or late period, I wouldn’t have done nearly as good of work. Because of the pressure and the timeframe that I gave myself, which was much less time than it should have been (according to most people), I was forced to be productive and pump out the best of what I’m capable of. Creatively, I don’t think it’s any different. To just mess around in the direction of creating something get you nowhere — to set a deadline gives your brain an ultimatum — and the procrastination in lieu of necessity draws out the most creative ways to get something done. I know that I’m not the kind of person to draw out something like a paper or painting or project… I’ve got to get it done in one sitting. So, if I have to choose that one sitting window, it’s gonna be when my brain has to think most creatively and efficiently to get it done… which also happens to be right before it needs to be done.
Some of you nay-sayers are gonna think I’m just giving excuses to make myself feel better. And you might be right, to some extent, but… it’s the facts, folks. And by facts, I mean that it’s probably true. And by that, I mean that I’ve probably witnessed a miracle in my life by the amount of work that I’ve been able to do in the few hours before an assignment is due, and somehow get away with the 100%. Nonetheless… there’s something to be said about not always being so stuck in the rules and being okay with flaws.
Here’s a breath of fresh air for your tired, over-worked, anti-procrastination, pro-productivity lungs to breathe in: IT’S OKAY.
I know you’d like to believe that you’re just this well-oiled productivity machine, capable of keeping focus for a massive amount of time, and accomplishing superhuman amounts of work, but… you’re actually just a person, who has flaws and isn’t perfect and really is actually kinda needy. Like, we all need rest and food and water and sleep and friendship and… about a million other things. So why do you expect more of yourself than you’re capable of?
Here’s something interesting to think about.
Maybe, the thing that you’re just dying to do… the thing that keeps making you late… the thing that you’re always thinking about and constantly consumes the waking hours of your consciousness… is the very thing that you need to be spending more time on.
Now, this isn’t always the case. Being distracted from finishing an important project or thing that you’re responsible for, isn’t beneficial to your life. Just because anything shiny or anything that moves grabs your attention while working, does not mean that you need to be focusing on them more. In fact, you should probably move seats and face a wall (pro-tip). But we’re talking about the other scenarios. Like, you’re struggling to focus on your business-y, suit-wearing, professional job because you can’t stop thinking about making sweet jams on guitar. (Heh, pretty cliche, right?) Or you’re constantly dreaming of seeing the world and exploring, but you’re stuck working at Chick-Fil-A from 9-5? (God bless you for your service.) Or how about, you’re currently taking classes in college, but all you want in life is to do something that’s significant and that matters, no matter what it is?
Find that thing that sets your heart on fire, and relentlessly pursue it.
I’ll be honest. I’m so not feeling like writing this right now, and it’s taken me way longer than I’d like to admit — that beginning paragraph took first breaths like 5 hours ago… so I hope you know, that even if you’re “bad” at procrastination, you’re in good company here. There’s really not much wit or clever ways of looking at things in this post. There’s not a whole lotta tasty one-liners that I can make bold and seem important. This post isn’t the most brilliant revelation that I've ever had, and maybe you think that it’s kinda lame.
But if nothing else, I just want you to know that you’re not alone.
That might sound kinda cliche or self-help-ish, but I feel like that’s something that’s so healthy to admit and understand in our lives.
You’re not perfect? You’re not alone. You don’t have your finances in order and are kinda unsure about your career choices? You’re not alone. You have some habits that maybe you’re not super proud of and really feel like you should have gotten over long ago? You’re not alone. You sometimes feel hopeless or that maybe you don’t matter that much? You’re not alone. You’re often unfocused and distracted and kindof burdened by the fact that you’re told that this is something that “could be better?” You're not alone.
There’s room for all of us in the grace that Jesus abundantly offers.
I know I started by talking about procrastination, and I still stand by the things that I said about it, but… I feel like maybe this is more important. More than the logistics and methods and practices, perhaps one of you reading this needs to hear today that you’re actually not as bad as you think. You’re accepted and loved and cared about, even though you’re imperfect. That you are actually incredible, and have something truly unique to offer this world. The things that you do matter — you matter. You’re truly wonderful and there’s a reason that you’re here… and it’s not for you to sit there, feeling down about the fact that you don’t know why. Get out there and BE YOU! That’s how you’re gonna find that reason. Don’t let life get you down, cause you are more than a conquerer. Y’know what that means? You’re not only the biggest winner that was ever created, but in fact, MORE than that! How can that be?! I don’t even know. But the Bible says it, and I believe it about myself and I believe it about you. Let that sink in.
…Don’t think so? Jesus thought so. He died for you because He thought so.
I don’t think that procrastination is really even about the thing that you’re putting off… it’s about admitting your brokenness, realizing that you’re actually pretty alright, and that literally every person you see in this day is broken just like you. I heard a quote once that says, “We lead by our strengths, and connect by our weaknesses.” Are you letting your weaknesses bring you closer to people, or are they being used as a false reason for seclusion? You’ve gotta be honest with yourself. It doesn't feel good to be weak, but just maybe, that’s exactly what its gonna take for you to be the best you that you’re meant to be.
BIG IDEA: You’re not alone in procrastination, and you’re not alone in life.
I pray that in this day you see the value of who you are, flaws and all. You might be sitting there, with your iPhone propped up somehow, reading these words, and feel like you’re not going anywhere in life. I want you to stop for a second and just breathe. Take a moment to think about your place in existence. Think about the immense blessings that have been afforded to you, and the fact that you’re even alive. The Lord created you on purpose, and though His ways aren't our ways, you can know that He’s in control and loves you more than you can even fathom. Let that sink in. I pray that you read this and go about your day, aware that even if there is darkness looming in your life, or some kind of burden that is super real and scary… Jesus cares about you. He knows you and He hears your prayers. Don’t let the blessing of this life become something that tears you away from that truth. You’re amazing, friend. Keep moving forward.