Everybody Has a Theory About Procrastination. Here’s Mine.

August 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm (By Amba)

But first (ha ha!), here’s the latest new one that made me want to write this. And here’s an old post of mine presenting two opposed perspectives on procrastination, one heroic, one subversive. So there you have three other theories of procrastination (four, actually: the first link talks about procrastination as a time-management error before proposing that it may instead be a mood-regulation error).

So here’s mine.

For us to do anything challenging, and particularly anything creative, our regular everyday self has to get out of the way, and it doesn’t want to.

Our regular everyday self wants the credit for the work, and the gratification of having done the work, but in fact it cannot and does not DO the work. For the work to happen, our regular everyday self not only has to sacrifice the petty, reliable pleasures with which it lines its cozy nest and shores itself up; it has to sacrifice itself. It has to go away. It has to cease to exist for an indefinite unbounded while, a little death that for all it knows might be the big death. For the regular everyday self, this is not only unpleasant, it’s terrifying. It will put up a fight for hours, for days. Procrastination is its rear-guard action. A miniature version of this battle must be fought at the entrance to every workout, every workday.

But you can’t go in at the deep end with your clothes on. You have to shuck your regular everyday self: it’s the entrance requirement of the creative realm. Once you do, and only then, new stuff can come through, into the world through you.

And then at the end of the day or the task, your regular everyday self comes back and celebrates to find itself still alive and possessed of this new stuff that it can show off. The creative doesn’t need to celebrate. It just goes off looking for some other place where it can get into the world.

/my theory of procrastination. But does it help? It helps me.

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