Procrastination - A shameful trait?

8 Aug 2022
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Some years ago a present arrived by post from one of my cousins. It was a plain notebook, the type with blank pages that you write in, and it had a fancy cover, with a title “The Procrastinator” in large strident type both on the spine and the front.

This sent me into a spiral of negative thoughts, did my cousin think I was a procrastinator, did others think I was a procrastinator, had it been sent in a sarcastic way, some side barb? The other practical problem was what to do with it, I couldn’t take it to the office and pick up another nickname in addition to the “onion breath” one that had accompanied me unknowingly when I didn’t go to the dentist for a few years (phobia). Similarly, I didn’t want to use it in front of my friends.

The notebook sat hidden at the back of some shelves for a decade, then I gave it to a charity shop. I had procrastinated about the procrastinator book – it was true I was one, and the book had fulfilled its destiny.

From psychometric tests, I found out I make decisions slower than most people, and that annoys them. However, also from the same assessment, my decisions achieve better outcomes as they are well thought through. A benefit!

Then one day I read, that procrastination is avoiding uncomfortable feelings, you are putting off doing something that you anticipate will make you feel bad. Suddenly I understood, at another level, that it wasn’t an intrinsic flaw, but more a natural behaviour. My challenge is to know when to procrastinate, and when to take the plunge.

At the weekend out of the blue a young relative contacted me and asked me to be guarantor for him. I was shocked, likely he didn’t understand I would be liable if he ran up debts (fair chance he would), I stayed in my shock state for a couple of hours then showed my husband the message. He immediately said I should phone up the young man, and explain we couldn’t do it for practical reasons. I did (after some gentle pushing and a couple of runs through of phraseology with husband) and the young man was fine about it we had a nice chat, and I invited him to stay.  If I hadn’t had the encouragement from my husband, I would still be chewing it over, and going down some rabbit holes of calamity, about whichever route I chose. But actually, within a few minutes, the weight was lifted and I felt so much better.

I think what I am saying is procrastination is not shameful, or necessarily bad, it is only bad if it makes you feel bad and brings rumination and catastrophic thinking.  Then it is time to take the plunge and know whatever the outcome you are taking control, and attempting to improve your well being.

What do you think? Is Procrastination good or bad?

 

Daisy

A Moodscope member.

PS.I have been thinking about this blog for 6 months.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Oli

Aug. 9, 2022, 4:55 a.m.

Sometimes delaying a decision is the best thing to do. But delaying a decision for the purpose of avoiding uncomfortable feelings, i.e. procrastination, is seldom useful. I need to do something about my weight. Well, I don’t, but I’ve heard that from many people. I need to do something about my smoking. Same. I need to stop drinking. What are you waiting for? What is the new information you need before you make the decision? And it’s not about new information, everyone knows all they need to know already. What’s the delay? Avoiding feeling uncomfortable. Dwelling and ruminating about how impossible and catastrophic it will be. When, in truth, it will feel like a weight lifting and everything will feel so much better. Great blog Daisy. Thank you.

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:11 a.m.

Hi Oli - interesting I hadn’t thought about procrastination in terms of these things- which generally I don’t have problems with eating healthy exercise etc. for me it is mainly avoiding conflict- any type makes me feel terrible and if bad exhausts me. So I guess for everyone- there are things we are good and things we are bad at. I agree Very good comments - the weight lifting and freeing. Thank you

Jul

Aug. 9, 2022, 5:51 a.m.

Hello Daisy The word procrastination has negative connotations. What we could say instead is delaying a decision either until we reach the right one for us or because we can't face making that decision or taking that action. I've been in a similar situation as you and my husband had to help me act and take a decision I'd been delaying making for years. I knew what I must do but couldn't do it. When eventually I did with the help of my OH, I felt 100 times better than I had for years. Apart from that, I tend to make very quick decisions as I can't bear them hanging over me. Interesting topic for a blog Daisy. You've got me thinking. Jul xx

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:13 a.m.

Hi Jul - yes you are right the very word is negative- maybe we should change to your phrase which is a lot more evidence based. And can be very positive

Teg

Aug. 9, 2022, 6:43 a.m.

Hi Daisy I think I may need some time to answer your question! ( I jest). I don't believe there is a black or white solution. In certain circumstances we need more time to reach decisions. This is an individual matter and it is not always negative behaviour. As you say your tests showed you make good decisions if you are given the time. Don't let others rush you. Obviously it is possible to take longer than others may expect but they need to be patient. Don't forget the relief you will feel when you have finally made a difficult decision. I am pleased you made the decision to get this Post published. And I hope it helps you in understanding this issue. You are not alone in deliberating about the content of Posts as my next one due on Saturday will show. Enjoy the sunshine, flower. Txx

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:14 a.m.

Thank you Teg - I look forward to your Saturday blog! Yes the flowers have been watered and are enjoying the sunshine

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:08 a.m.

Aw bless your cotton socks, Daisy- thinking about this blog for six months….and look! You did it and it’s a goodie and one I will bookmark. You are so right in what you have found out about procrastination: it can be devil in disguise because of it’s assumed negativity. Some decisions have to be on the spot: you’re in a shop, choosing. You’re on the phone? No, you don’t have to make a decision there and then - you need to have a line or two prepared for being put on the spot. "Let me have a look at my diary, calendar and get back to you by…name a date" or "Great, I’ll have to check with OH and let you know". Then there’s my classic - "Oh gosh I know there’s something on that date, but I’ll find out if I can do…(whatever)…and get back to you." The other end of this conundrum is you can let your mind work it’s naughty way into changing what you want to do and you will accept, say an invitation, and then regret it, or you will worry and dither and genuinely procrastinate and the ‘offer’ will have gone or the friend/family member will get cross. I think the notebook you were sent was a bit underhanded - what in earth would possess your cousin to send such a ‘gift’? I wonder if this cousin is without perceived fault???? Probably not. Their fault is being judgmental - is there a book on it you can send in return??!! Sorry I am being naughty!! It is often bullying, for people to expect a decision right there, on the spot. I often feel so very sad, for the obvious reasons, when someone is widowed, but also because for years the married couple have shared ideas and discussed decisions and made them together and suddenly the partner is gone, and all decisions have to be taken alone or guidance sought from other family members. Take your time, it has obviously been proved by the test you took - that the decisions you come to are valid, so don’t feel undermined…after all, it’s not the worst ‘fault’ to have - you could be the bullying cousin!!! Love, thanks and Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:44 a.m.

Thank you for your bear hugging words which have envelopes me with warmth. To this day I don’t know if the book was negative on purpose or a time pressure grab buy - the first thing seen when going into shop and still need to post it - type of situation. Or maybe she believes I am a dreamer and somewhere to put creative ideas. I would have loved one of those with arty covers, or maybe creamy pages that smell booky. But at least at end I did make donation to the charity shop and I have got a blog from it - this supports my proposal that I get good outcomes from my decisions! Thank you as always Bear.

Norman

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:36 a.m.

Daisy hi! It may have taken six months but it was worth, it. You weren't procrastinating, you were "maximising your thinking time" and very well too. I have had a problem with apparent procrastination all my life, and it turned out to be ADHD, (lack of focus and inability to concentrate.) I look forward to the next blog (in six months...)

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 8:15 a.m.

Wow Norman - I had never related procrastination with ADHD - that is interesting but I don’t have it. So it seems there are many roads leading to procrastination- I bet they are all long and winding….

Chris

Aug. 9, 2022, 8:01 a.m.

Thank you Daisy for a blog that resonates with me! I believe I am unclear what the difference between procrastination and over thinking is. Since I heard Ruby Wax mention this on a radio show and heavily identified with it; I believe I have been over thinking, over thinking! When I experience this (frequently). I give myself two pieces of advice, as I often struggle with choices. The first choice was probably the right one and there is usually a do nothing choice and a do something choice. I usually empower myself and do something. I also notice a blog previously that mentioned take a risk and find this good advice Good day to all Cx

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 8:18 a.m.

Hi Chris - we could form a club - seriously though your advice is good- sometimes I don’t even realise I am procrastinating- empowerment feels good Good day to you too!

Sue

Aug. 9, 2022, 8:22 a.m.

Hello Daisy. I was wondering whether to reply to this and found myself saying 'I'll have a think about this first! So I've jumped straight in. After having a dental issue for over 30 years I have finally taken the decision to have braces and have it fixed, now in my 60s. I like to think I was waiting for the right time but yes, i was afraid and kept putting it off. Now I can't wait to see the final results -weight lifted.

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 9:25 a.m.

Congratulations Sue well done and the braces and thank you so much for commenting Time maybe is on your side I am guessing the braces are much better than they were before

Orangeblossom

Aug. 9, 2022, 9:54 a.m.

Hi Daisy, many thanks for the blog which I enjoyed reading & gave me lots to think about. I am more of a prevaricator but maybe the two words are linked. Sitting on the fence because I am procrastinating.

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 11:59 a.m.

Hi OB - I had to look up prevaricate because I wasn’t sure of difference- I think you are right- sometimes I am evasive about answering because I need time to think- if I just data dumped then people would be bored if not worse. Thank you

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 1:15 p.m.

I love that word prevaricate - prevarication sounds so much more deliberate than procrastination!

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 11:35 a.m.

Thanks for this blogpost Daisy and for all the comments. I'm another one who's been diagnosed with ADHD 'symptoms' - which obvs get worse when in depths of depression. But even on a good day, I still get overwhelmed easily with everything I need to do and not v good at prioritising n focusing. I'm trying now to just accept that I'm like that - that I can only do what I can do .... even if it takes longer than 'most ppl'. I try to avoid calling myself lazy .... but it def does take me longer to get the courage, confidence n strength to face difficult 'projects' ie stuff that has several stages that I have to engage my brain about. I have to consciously break things down especially small, slow 'babysteps'. Frustrating but so be it. That's life! [Meds can help but they have their own side effects eg speeds up heart rate ... so that's a bloomin choice too... ] I'm looking at it like hearing or eyesight or most anything else different ppl struggle with - comparing would be like saying 'well most ppl dont wear glasses' - bonkers, right?!

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 12:07 p.m.

Hi Moodie - when I was given the feedback that I was slower than most people at making decisions and that would annoy someone- I was surprised that the person saying it ( a coach) said that people needed to accept it, ie not for me to try and change Fast is sometimes good but is not the only way. It also sounds as if the whole process is exhausting for you. But that you are very committed and work very hard to do things Thank you for the comments

Teg

Aug. 9, 2022, 5:54 p.m.

Hi Moodie I am pleased to read about your acceptance. Some things we cannot or do not need to change. Txx

Jane

Aug. 9, 2022, 12:48 p.m.

Daisy, this is such a great post, and honestly I think many of us struggle with putting things off because of uncomfortable feelings! Reading what you've written about when to procrastinate and when to take the plunge, I wonder if one way to figure that out is to pay attention to the feelings we're trying to avoid. For me I struggle with my writing project in part because if it's ever finished, I'll have to send it out and be judged -- which I find terrifying. Now that I've written that out I can see what it is that I'm afraid of, and that's really helpful. Thank you for your post!

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 1:35 p.m.

Hi Jane - a writing project is such a task to do - well done even if not quite completed. I struggle with finishing things- I like to tinker with many projects and that is without being judged at the end of it. Good luck with the project and the judge- in the end who is to say what is good and what is bad Thank you

Teg

Aug. 9, 2022, 6:06 p.m.

Hi Jane Thousands of people will read your comments but are you concerned how they judge it? Everybody is entitled to an opinion. If others do not agree that is their choice. Have faith in your mind. Txx

Jane

Aug. 10, 2022, 2:02 p.m.

Thank you both for the encouragement! (And yes, Teg, I do worry about how my comments will be judged! I don't comment much partly for that reason, and partly because most of the time I don't have much to say on the topic.) Anyway thanks both, and thanks again Daisy for the post!

Patty

Aug. 9, 2022, 1:51 p.m.

Thank you for the blog Daisy. I, like you, am a procrastinator. It is difficult to be this way at times. The more I procrastinate on something, the harder it gets to make a decision. But, on a positive note. Like you, I take my time in making decisions. I feel that I do make good decisions because I do not make them rashly like some people do. I research things and look at all angles first. I just need to trust my decision making more.

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 2:11 p.m.

Hi Patty so good to know that I am not alone! Thank you

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 2:54 p.m.

Sometimes it helps just thinking of the first step.

the room above the garage

Aug. 9, 2022, 2:25 p.m.

I currently have jobs I am procrastinating about. Each one involves me sending emails to chase people up and I absolutely detest having to do that. It makes me feel ill…surely if they were able, and if they wanted to, they’d have done the jobs by now, so there must be a good reason they don’t want to, too busy, don’t want the job, so I’ll put off chasing it up and I’ll feel worse living in the frozen state whilst nothing happens. I get so cross with myself! I need to read through this blogs a few more times and then bite the bullet! But… :-(

Reply

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 2:45 p.m.

Ha ha RATG Me too…..

Teg

Aug. 9, 2022, 6:10 p.m.

Hi RATG If someone has agreed to do something then I see no harm in a gentle nudged reminder. A good tactic is to include something else in the email that has nothing to do the action they should be doing. Hope that may help. Txx

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 7:13 p.m.

ooh sneaky! Thx Teg - will give it a try x

Valerie

Aug. 9, 2022, 2:57 p.m.

Hello Daisy, I think procrastination is usually avoidance of something not very enjoyable,like doing a tax return or making a duty call to someone.In that sense it is an understandable reaction.I can usually make decisions and act quickly,as long as I am not presented with too may options.I can get indecisive,which is rather different,when there is too much choice. I am glad you refused to be a guarantor for a relative.In general,I think it is a very thoughtless thing to put another person in such an embarassing position.If someone actually needs a guarantor they need to ask themselves if they should be taking on the debt in the first place.x

Reply

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 3:10 p.m.

just to agree to that last para!

Daisy

Aug. 9, 2022, 3:48 p.m.

Hi Valerie- yes too many options is way too confusing Thank you also for the comment on the guarantor. This was my viewpoint too - I worried that I would be blamed if i didn’t agree. That part of the family has a very different attitude to money- they seem quite happy to take money without any thoughts about how to pay it back. Or worry. I have already been very accommodating to him - it seems that to me is a big deal but to them it appears not, and I should do it. Anyway his parents haven’t mentioned it (presumably they didn’t qualify to be guarantor ). And I have kept quiet and calm about it. He found another guarantor the next day - who is closer relation.

Moodie

Aug. 9, 2022, 4:44 p.m.

You've def done the right thing from what I can gather. Just hope that 'closer relation' has done the right thing. My attitude is 'risk averse' - I've been bitten hard before when I strayed from that. I dont have a lot of money and would only ever loan or provide any guarantee to anyone, however close, on the basis that I was prepared to face not getting it back.

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