I’m a procrastinator.
There, I’ve said it – and it really did take me more than half an hour of staring at the screen to squeeze those words out.
What could be a concern is that I looked at the Wikipedia definition of the word, just after writing the above and seem to have self-diagnosed ‘an issue’ that I didn’t realise I had, but one which has been with me since I was a teenager.
I am genuinely very content in life and 2011 was my greatest year, so far, but there has been an underlying – though not overpowering or debilitating - feeling of frustration stemming from inaction in certain areas of intent, such as improving my general health and fitness, and increasing my writing productivity.
Without doubt, compared to my pre-awakening existence, I am much more productive than I have ever been, but there’s very clearly room for improvement.
I wrote that it could be a concern to realise procrastination is more than just a word (and possibly a psychological disorder), but it’s not something that worries me – it’s actually quite exciting, because now I realise I experience it, I can work to overcome it.
Until now, I’ve always delayed tackling the important tasks until the last moment; instead, being distracted by the trivial. This goes right back to when I was at senior school and I’d be scribbling my homework down on the morning bus, or in the last few minutes before the bell rang for first class, because I’d spent the previous evening tapping away on my ZX Spectrum or hanging with my friends, as the youths call it, nowadays.
It’s a common problem, apparently, with up to 95% of students experiencing it at some point, and there actually being a specific ‘branch’ of procrastination, named ‘Student Syndrome’:
“Student syndrome refers to the phenomenon that many people will start to fully apply themselves to a task just at the last possible moment before a deadline. This leads to wasting any buffers built into individual task duration estimates.”
I guess I never grew out of that student phase…
When I read that procrastination could be an indicator to underlying psychological problems, I’ve got to say it freaked me out for a few minutes, but, according to Wikipedia, the two main causal issues are depression and ADHD. I’m certainly not depressed and it took just a glance through the symptoms to reassure myself that I don’t have ADHD.
Sooo… how to combat Student Syndrome?
I guess the best way to combat this is to employ the same tactic as I do with depression, in doing exactly the opposite of what my brain used to expect me to do. Whereas I’ve banished the black dog by being (to some) irritatingly positive and full of joy, the best way to combat procrastination is to scare my mind into submission by doing things… straight away.
It’s a no-brainer to you multi-taskers, I know, but this is a delightful revelation to me.
Somewhat annoyingly, this light bulb moment came after I listened to an audio-book about angels, during which, I spent most of the time scoffing at the advice given, with the author advising that I should ask Archangel Gabriel for help if I was experiencing creative procrastination.
Now, although I have a very firm belief in things of a spiritual nature – having experienced some crazy, beyond-the-five-senses stuff in my life - I do find I get irked by suggestions from authors such as this woman that we should abdicate our self-belief out to subcontractors, rather than relying on our own power to bring about change in our lives.
I only bought the audio-book because I’m interested in learning mediumship techniques (again, I’ve had a few experiences in that area) and this title was the closest thing I could find to the subject, on iTunes. I listened to it, cynically, then followed a few instructions because I didn’t want to waste my money.
But here’s the thing… if I hadn’t listened to that book, which I downloaded by 'chance', I wouldn’t have made this self-discovery about procrastination and I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I’d still be in the same mind-set I had last week, hoping that my cerebral turbo would kick in some time soon – which is essentially subcontracting my self-belief out of the moment, and away from my direct control, in the now.
Humouring you (and me), here, but just say there were angels, and you could ask them for help? Would they appear in a flash of holy light, accompanied by the blare of trumpets, then magically massage my mind to make the changes I was asking for, or would it be a more subtle process of slowly revealing the path to a new way of thinking – which is exactly what actually happened?
For those of you who completely reject the possibility of the existence of angels… you may not be quite so cynical about the concept of life after death; that your loved ones live on after their mortal demise and even, on occasion, visit those they cherish, in this world, with quiet comfort and guidance. I know a few atheists who have had ‘challenging’ experience of such things.
So, bearing that in mind, is it really such a great stretch of the imagination that there could be older and wiser spiritual beings that come to us when we call for help?
To be honest, I don’t know, but this process of recognising my failure of procrastination has made me smile. I don’t believe in coincidence, and whatever happened, and whatever the source of that happening – whether it be me, an angel or the holy ghost of Elvis the King - it’s a good thing.