It's not procrastination: making room for inspiration

If you know me well enough, you will know that I find it sometimes more productive to simply drop your to-do list and go take a walk in the park, or call your friend who you haven’t seen in a long time. When you pay attention to the way you feel, you know when to work and when to play.

To illustrate this, I like to tell the tale of this snowy day when I decided to go for a long morning walk through the snow instead of tending to the to-do list at hand. By the time I finally got back and sat down to work, I accomplished a great deal more than my regular day, simply because I was relaxed and refreshed by my stroll.

I used to call this “procrastinating better” or “smart procrastination”.

Then I read Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less and I realized that this was not procrastination at all.

Procrastination is basically self-sabotage. It is tricking yourself into not doing something important, usually out of fear (of not getting it right, of being sucked into something greater than yourself, of other people’s judgement, etc).

Using your time to do playful activities, on the other hand, is a deliberate choice to recharge your batteries and fuel your inspiration.

As it turns out, when you make room in your days to do things that make you happy and encourage you to look at the world in a playful manner, it becomes easier to know what to prioritize and how to go about the difficult tasks you need to accomplish.

I could use the word “creative”, but I know many people feel blocked when they hear it, so I’m using playfulness instead. It does not matter whether you see yourself as a creative person or not. You don’t have to be someone who draws or writes or sings. Taking a stroll by the lake on a sunny day for the sheer pleasure of it puts you in a playful/creative mind mode. So does playing with children, or going to that art exhibit you wanted to check but never found the time.

What matters is that those moments give your mind a break from the high-efficiency, non-stop executing mode that rules our lives. You let some air in, and then you can see clearly when the time to work comes again.

If you think you have no time for such kind of luxury, consider how we waste a considerable amount of time with unimportant things (or simply panicking about all that needs to be done) when we don’t take time to freshen up and recharge. Consider how many times you have thought about your to-do list and then opened Facebook just for a quick look before you started working (a quick look that consumed a good 15 minutes of your day, or perhaps even more).

Could you use that time in a more meaningful way? My guess is yes.

Sign up to the networking café on May 9th to learn more about how you can use essentialism as a method to take the reins of your days, put an end to the frustration of not lagging behind in your to-do list, and get the things that actually matter finally done.

Maria Alice StockComment