Today at work I attended a procrastination seminar. My favorite bit of new knowledge from the program was that “procrastination is not a time management problem”. The speaker told us that if you are procrastinating, a planner isn’t going to help you do the things that you don’t really want to do. She told us that planners are for remembering, not reducing inertia. This information gave me relief. We do have time to accomplish long-term goals and chores, it’s just that we often make poor choices. Also, a lot of important activities require just a little bit of time, but must be practiced on a consistent basis, like exercise or maintaining relationships.
We were also given tips for identifying when we might be subconsciously procrastinating. For example, if you start substituting a pressing need for another ‘productive’ activity , then you are probably procrastinating. I do not like cleaning, but I realize now that sometimes I will do unscheduled cleaning at home to avoid something else, like boring paperwork that has a deadline. The feeling of productivity and accomplishment for doing an unpleasant chore masks the internal excuses used for the more important task.
Whenever I attend these sorts of self-help classes, I find that for the next few days or weeks afterwards, I am hyper-aware of my choices and activities. My to-do lists shrink and I feel accomplished. It’s the sustaining of positive choices that can be so difficult. But the practice of being aware of our choices is a step that can help us attain long-term goals. So, it isn’t the actual content of the class that I’m after, but the actions that I know I will consciously take afterwards that keeps me coming back.