Is this even a writing blog if I don’t mention the word procrastination?
I think everyone knows what that word means now. It became the word of choice in the early 2010s, when being a ‘creator’ and making a name for oneself was all the rage. Countless YouTube videos of “How I procrastinate”, “Why you procrastinate” and subsequently, “How to stop procrastinating” spring to mind. The irony of the latter isn’t lost on me.
As everyone began subscribing to the idea that going to work each day and working on nothing else was not how to become fulfilled, recognised, and rich, the focus shifted to becoming ‘self-made’. That obsession has only grown over time. In internet culture, it rose alongside professional YouTubers and even more recently, ‘influencers’.
With that realisation, the general population began to try being creators and working for themselves. And they came to another realisation – that doing all that is hard work, and a lot of it receives no reward.
Everyone has ‘suffered’ from procrastination at some point. Bring it up in conversation, and you’ll be met with a chorus of “me too”s and “all the time”s. However, procrastination falls into that dark pit of what I’d refer to as ‘labelled weaknesses’.
Citing procrastination as the reason why one doesn’t achieve something is an easy way out. “Why did you take so long on this project?” “Sorry, I was procrastinating.” It becomes an excuse that, at its core, doesn’t actually represent anything other than “I wasn’t doing it.”
That might sound harsh, but I am of course speaking from experience. There are very few people (if any) on this planet who haven’t procrastinated in some form. I do it constantly – even today, I put off writing this blog – not because I didn’t want to; I simply put other things ahead of it.
In blaming procrastination for delaying or failing to complete a task, we personify it. It becomes an entity which stands in the corner of the room, along with an “Out for Lunch” sign left by its friend, motivation (whom I will address in another blog). We can point a finger at it and say “it’s their fault”. And in doing that, we fail to take responsibility for our own actions.
Even in saying I ‘struggle’ with procrastination, I shift the blame. In this case, I’m treating it like some kind of disorder that’s been forced upon me – which it isn’t. For me, that phrase translates to “I struggle to complete tasks which require effort.”
This isn’t an advice blog. I’m not going to sit here and tell anybody how to ‘beat’ or ‘overcome’ procrastination (more examples of why giving it a name feels false). The main reason for that is that I don’t see it as a tangible thing that can be overcome. Sometimes, I’ll complete a task with no issue. Other times, I’ll complete a task, but it will feel difficult – it might take me longer than I thought, or I’ll wait to start it. And sometimes, I might try and start it, but won’t complete it. Or won’t start it at all.
If this happens to you, you’re to blame – sorry. That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism, as whether an anonymous blogger thinks you’re lazy or not isn’t your concern. Your concern is whether your procrastination is preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve, in the time you’ve given yourself to achieve it.
Generally, if a task has a deadline, most people will complete the task at some point – even if that is right at the last minute. The issue with pursuing creative or business endeavours is that there is no deadline – if you don’t do it at all, nobody really cares… except you. At that point, one has to decide whether they care enough. That’s the hardest part.