Jenny Thow | Stepping Stones Learning

The Thin Line Between Procrastination, Self-Care & Laziness

It’s been another weekend of managing to do everything else except for the thing I most wanted to be doing.  I’ve caught up on sleep, tidied my bedroom, watched a few programmes on my sky planner, scrolled through Facebook, and generally not moved much since getting home from work on Friday.  What I wanted to be doing was tackling my to do list around my coaching business, and getting out and about to improve my chances of finding potential dates and more friends.

Have I procrastinated – of course!  My bedroom needed tidying, but probably not for as long as it took.  Have I been lazy – yup.  I could have been out engaging in some activity or another with other people, which would have been more helpful that watching TV and scrolling through Facebook.  Have I practised some self-care – yes, I have.  I used my weekend to relax and unwind and get myself ready for the week ahead.

So here’s the problem – when and how does self-care turn into either laziness, procrastination, or both?  Why do I find myself drawn to procrastinate or be lazy, and how do I allow myself to overstep the mark when it comes to self-care?

Well, my curiosity coupled with my propensity to procrastinate at least allowed me to google and read up on what might be going on. Let me share with you some of the things I learned.

 

What is Self-Care?

For me, self-care is an important part of being at my best.  It is about taking some time to relax and rejuvenate to be able to restore my energy.  Being single with no kids, it’s pretty easy for me to take care of myself.  When I look around and listen to those who are not single and have kids, it worries me that they don’t seem to find some time to relax and rejuvenate.

Catching up on sleep missed due to unsettled kids, early mornings, or late nights, eating healthily, exercising, finding time alone, doing something you love, are all ways to take care of yourself, and of the people around you.  I know I’m not able to give what others need from me if I haven’t given myself what I need.

I’ve also noticed that there is a point where self-care tips into either laziness or procrastination.  And I’ve learned there is an important distinction between these two:

 

Procrastination vs. Laziness

Procrastination is delaying or postponing action.  It is an avoidance behaviour that allows you to give into feeling good when you are faced with a task that you are not looking forward to for a number of reasons.  It’s a way you have found to cope with the discomfort and feel better about things temporarily, while running a dangerous risk of feeling even more guilt or shame when the task isn’t done to a level you (or even others) know you are capable of.

Laziness is the unwillingness to work or use your energy.  It can happen for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, you may be lacking motivation and therefore you choose not to waste your energy.  Secondly, you may just lack energy due to tiredness, reduced resources, and emotional exhaustion and just not feel up to the task.

I procrastinate in two ways.  Sometimes, I get absorbed in useful procrastination – my bedroom, or kitchen, and even my entire flat can end up super tidy!  I might clear out my wardrobe and have bags of clothes waiting for charity.   Other times, I engage in useless procrastination – I’m fully caught up on my ever-growing number of favourite TV shows, I know who’s got a good sale online and have bought more shoes or clothes to replace what I have given away.  I’ve been scrolling through my Facebook feed and now I’m “fully” caught up with what my friends are posting, liking, and generally interested in online.

I’m lazy too.  I have a list of things I want to do, but don’t feel motivated enough to get on with them.  I find some of them mundane, uninteresting, unchallenging, and just boring.  Others I’m not even sure I’m going to be able to achieve, or I probably need extra encouragement from friends and family to know that I’m making progress and it will be worth it.  I guess it’s one of the drawbacks of living alone and not having people around to help hold my accountable to my own goals.

 

Digging Myself Out

It sucks to be a lazy procrastinator.  I’ve got all these plans for myself and my life and I struggle to make them happen.  I go round in circles in my head thinking about what I want, and seem to be unable to put a realistic, actionable plan in place to help me get there.  At times, the panic of a deadline sets in and the job gets done. Phew!  But for many things on my list, the “deadline” is too far off for panic to be able to come to my rescue.  Yet I worry that it might be too late to change course.  So here’s some of the tips I’ve found while researching this topic:

  1. Forgive myself for procrastinating – get curious about the root of it.  What am I “scared” of?
  2. Know that this is an emotional reaction to cope with something I’m worried about
  3. Break down the task into smaller, more manageable tasks (a house is built one brick at at time)
  4. Plan rest and self-care into my schedule which also includes time on task
  5. Know that I don’t need to be in the mood for it at the start of the task
  6. Catch myself procrastinating or being lazy, stop what I’m doing, put away/turn off the distractions, and get started
  7. Avoid distractions, create deadlines, and tell people who can check on my progress
  8. Celebrate my achievements

I don’t know if I’ll ever kick my procrastination/laziness habit.  Maybe, with time, I can at least minimise the disruption it causes in my life and by knowing that it’s happening, maybe I can have a bit more control over it going forward.

While reading up about this (it felt like procrastination at the time!) I found this really great website about procrastination.  Here it is in case you feel inspired by it too:  http://waitbutwhy.com/

 

Photo credit: symphony of love via Foter.com / CC BY-SA