I used to worry about my procrastination tendencies a lot. Now I don’t. Why? Well, procrastinating isn’t always the bad thing people take it for. You see, most often procrastinating saves me from doing something that turns out to be completely unnecessary. This applies to many, many things, including housework. Another thing is, I’ve learned something about myself over the years – if it really needs to be done, I will get it done eventually, and it will always be in time to meet whatever deadline life has thrown my way.
One other thing procrastination is good for, is giving you time to enjoy life. Sure, I might enjoy an activity more if I didn’t have things in the back of my head that needed doing, but because I’ve learned not to worry so much about those things, they really don’t bother me that much. There’s another message that sits in the back of my mind to argue with the worrier, and that is: You might not live through tomorrow.
No, I honestly don’t believe I’m going to die, but the possibility exists. If I die, will I really regret waiting another day to clean up the apartment. Nope. Will I regret not running an errand? Not on your life. Will I regret not enjoying myself? You bet I will. Will I regret not reading that book, or not learning that one additional thing on Wikipedia? Probably.
In a way I use procrastinating to sift through my priorities. It helps me determine the things that I really need (and want) to do with my life. Yesterday I finally got around to entering a writing contest. It was something I’d been meaning to do, and finally I did it. So, it was obviously important to me. My writing is important in a lot of ways. Sometimes it’s a way to vent personally, like in this blog. Sometimes it’s simply creative expression. Sometimes it’s a way to share wisdom or express anger at something going on in the world that others may not know is happening. It’s been a part of my life since I was twelve years old, so I know it always will be, even if I put it aside for a little while.
Of course, sometimes procrastinating gives me my best ideas, too, because while I’m procrastinating and messing around with computer games or other activities I enjoy, my brain never stops working. I ponder. I brainstorm. I work through issues related to tasks I need to accomplish. If I jump right in to do something, I may do many days’ work, only to realize after that I should have waited until I’d thought it through a little more, because most often an idea pops into my head when I least expect it – and that idea is usually so simple and quick that I have to say, “D’oh!”
I always meant to go back to school and further my education. Well, I haven’t signed up for the main courses just yet, but I have signed on with a place that offers coding courses. My coding skills are twenty years out of date. I can guess what I need to do, but it takes me longer to do things because of that. Now I’m going to update my skills, because I plan to build websites as a sideline. I can make a decent living at it if I do it even part-time, so it’s worth taking some time to learn the newest languages, including mobile application development.
I look around the apartment and know I need to clean, but unless there’s a good reason to get it done right then, I put it off. You know why? Because putting it off every time means I’ll have cleaned fewer times in my lifespan – and that can only be a good thing. Cleaning is never finished. It’s never perfect. I will never be satisfied with it. So, I’ve learned to simply not care. It’s very, very low on my list of priorities.
Then there are the long-term dreams. I talk about buying land, putting up a steel building, and living off the grid, and people say, “Why haven’t you done it yet?” Well, it’s certainly not because it’s not important to me. For one thing, it requires at least some cash, since I have no intention of getting a mortgage for it. I don’t need to, so why would I give my money to a greedy bank if I don’t have to? Not that I much like giving it to my landlord, but at least they’re technically human beings. Also, buying land means a lot of planning and research in my case. It has to be inexpensive, remote, and ideal for what I’m going to be using it for. I’ll need to have decent access to solar energy, so my panels can be installed at the right angle to catch it. I need to have decent ground water so I can have a well that won’t run dry in ten years. It needs to be at a decent price, and the zoning has to be right. Aside from the solar stuff, my real estate agent will be able to handle almost all of those details, but I have to know what details to ask for in the first place.
There are definitely decisions I’m slow about making, and the land and house situation is one of those things. Other things, like my education, took a long time because I had to figure out what I wanted to be educated in. Sure I’d gone for programming in my early twenties, but I changed my mind about it for a long time. I was concerned about my tendency to hyper-focus. I used to get absorbed by tasks, and would forget to eat or sleep. That would have been easy to do when banging out lines of code.
Time is life. That’s a fact I’ve known for many years – since before I took my programming course. I lost eleven people over a stretch of three years, and it shifted my priorities into questions of what would matter relating to life and death. Everything I thought about doing became a question of whether or not it was on my bucket list. Of course, that term wasn’t in use back then that I’m aware of, but you get the idea. I actually had big lists of things I wanted to accomplish with my life. Getting a book published was always on that list. Again, I’ll get around to it. If I don’t, it’s not like the world can’t do without one more novel. What I have managed to do is write articles that are sometimes read by thousands of people, and believe me, that’s no small thing in my mind.
So I spend my time doing the things I feel like doing, when I feel like doing them, and my time doesn’t feel like it’s been wasted. It feels like I’ve enjoyed and appreciated my life. I go through fits of being a workaholic, and I go through times of listlessness. And I just don’t care how others might view that. I fulfill my obligations to people, I try very hard not to let anyone down, and I make sure nobody is hurt by my actions or inaction. When it comes to activism, however, I have to limit myself to what’s psychologically safe for me to do. I have my own emotional limits there, so I’m careful. I’ve burned myself out before, and won’t do it again. Getting burnt out wasn’t a bad thing, either. It was something else that showed me the benefits of procrastination. I learned that running around, doing everything I could think of, was really a stupid way to live because I wasn’t actually living. I was simply doing. What kind of life is that?