Procrastination: maybe it’s okay

Okay. So here we are. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I’d hate to say the classic ‘I’ve been too busy’ because, quite frankly, I believe that is never an excuse: if you want something enough you will make time for it, it’s just a matter of priorities. So why haven’t I written in a while?

Sometimes it’s hard for us to put our finger on why we procrastinate and put things off endlessly. I think we sometimes need to take a step back and clarify why we decided to get something done in the first place. It might be because you have to: an essay, homework, a job application. It might be a task you set yourself: reading a book, going to the gym or – indeed – writing a blog post.

Re: writing. I think sometimes it’s hard for me to crystallise what it is that I want to write about. Let’s go back to the drawing board: I started this blog because I like writing and I didn’t feel there was enough of it in my life (I can count the number of essays I wrote in medical school on one hand – in fact, I could count them on my hand even if I had lost three fingers in a tragic accident). So, I want to write, but why haven’t I until now?

Re: fitness. You know you want to get fit. You know when you’re at the gym you feel better for it. And you know that each time you eventually get round to going you wonder why it took you so long.

For me, it’s the Post Office. I used to accumulate vast quantities of brand new clothes because I just could never get round to going to the Post Office. It’s not that hard, is it? And surely the money is more important?

What is it that holds us back from doing the things we had planned to do?

At the risk of sounding like Carrie from Sex and the City I’ll refrain from asking another rhetorical question. Suffice to say, we can’t always place our finger on why we procrastinate, and maybe that’s okay.

Possible reasons for procrastination:

  1. We’re too busy. Unfortunately, I’m calling bullshit on this one. If it’s enough to get you stressed about not having done it, then it’s big enough that you ought to have prioritised it.
  2. We don’t want it enough. Hmm. I think we do want these things or we wouldn’t feel so bad that we haven’t done them yet.
  3. It’s human nature. If we went through life accepting our shortcomings as just “human nature” we wouldn’t really get anywhere. (I’d like to think we’re still evolving, but that’s too contentious an issue to delve into right now.)
  4. We think too much about it. I like this one: I think it’s often pretty true- for myself at least. Often, I find that the best chance I have of getting a job done is just doing it then and there – like replying to a text or email. Perhaps adding things to growing lists of jobs is unnecessary and we ought to just do more and think less. This is a good excuse, but it’s not realistic. (Being a junior doctor is all about lists and some things need a lot of thought!)
  5. There isn’t a good reason why. The more I think about it, the more I settle on this as our answer. Stop thinking about why you haven’t done it. Shit happens; things fall by the wayside and sometimes we’re not logical human beings. Ultimately, you know you’ll get it done eventually. You get back to the gym, you return that dress to Asos and you call the relative you’ve been meaning to call all week. Perhaps by accepting that sometimes we get shit done and other times we don’t we’ll stop putting that pressure on ourselves and find that, actually, we do get shit done- be that immediately, gradually or eventually.

For whatever elusive reason I have taken so long to sit down at my desk and write something, anything, I’m doing it now (even if it’s a bit too stream-of-consciousness-y for your liking) so I’m going to stop mulling it over. So whatever it is you need to do right now just relax and know you’ll get it done at some point. I hope that gradually these little faults we see in ourselves will be ironed out by the passing of time as mature and gain valuable life experience (wishful thinking, I know).

P.S. Things not to leave too long:

  • Returns. Because you won’t get the money back and money doesn’t grow on trees. (Note to self: return those trainers because I’m pretty sure four weeks is nearly up.)
  • Going to the doctor’s. This isn’t a plug! But some shit is serious and needs prioritising, e.g: unexplained weight loss; persistent coughs, bloating, nausea and vomiting; night sweats; fevers.
  • Going to the gym. You’ll just feel a bit crappy, a bit podgy and a bit guilty.
  • Writing blog posts. Because people will start to forget you ever started a blog.
  • Things you enjoy. Because that shit makes you happy!

You’ll get it done, at least eventually.



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