Taking a Break vs Strategic Procrastination
By Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH
What is the one thing that we can all do, and we all do too well? Procrastinate!
It seems there is always something that we know we have to do but for whatever reason continue to avoid or put it off. Every time we begin to make the effort to do this task, inevitably something else comes along and entices our interest.
Then as time goes by and we still haven’t gotten around to dealing with this nuisance of a chore, the weight of guilt sets in. We may even find ourselves lying to others (and ourselves) when asked why this task has not yet been completed. We may even procrastinate when it comes to seeing the people who are waiting for us to complete the task.
And then we feel shame.
Is this a familiar scenario?
Of course the longer we procrastinate, the more stress we begin to feel, and then when we finally do get around to completing the task, we say things like, “I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders.”
Or alternatively, we may resort to condemning ourselves.
- “I am such a loser.”
- “Why can’t I do anything right?”
- “I always let people down.”
And on and on…
But do we need to let it get to that point?
Of course, it is best to simply complete the task at hand in a timely manner in order to avoid the stress that you will no doubt feel when you drag your feet for long periods of time. However, that being said, there are times when a task may be completely overwhelming, and in a case such as this, there is a form of procrastination that may be beneficial. Yep, you read that right! A beneficial form of procrastination!
And I call it Strategic Procrastination.
It’s not practical to think that anytime you need a break you can go to a spa, resort, or simply just devote a complete day to yourself, although it is important to do this from time to time. This is where Strategic Procrastination comes in. It allows you to give yourself complete permission to take a short break.
I can hear you now, isn’t this really otherwise known as “a break”? What is the big deal difference?
Okay though taking breaks throughout the day is awesome for stress reduction, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you completely remove your thoughts from the task you wish to take a break from. In fact, often we remove ourselves from the situation only to continue thinking about the task while taking a walk…or replacing your thoughts with even more stressful ones! You may end up more stressful after your break than you did before!
However, with Strategic Procrastination, the end result is the relief from stress. Not more stress!
Though I truly enjoyed creating content for Online Holistic Health, I would be lying if I said that there were never times that I felt completely overwhelmed. Creating all of the content from years of research and journals, responding to emails, social media, putting together audio and video materials, overseeing website production and all of the technical “stuff”, and let’s not forget about all of the deadlines… oh and then there is also life outside of the internet and all that entails!
Even when I would just take a break I would still be continuously distracted by the never-ending voice in my head telling me that there was no time to waste and that every second counted. It was during these times that I wanted to do anything but the tasks at hand, and this in and of itself was mentally exhausting!
Talk about an unhealthy lifestyle!
Fortunately, I discovered a way of productively dealing with these moments that would otherwise be self-defeating. AKA Strategic Procrastination.
I allowed myself to take guilt-free micro breaks, let’s say ten-minute hiatuses to “plug in” by doing anything but the activity that was causing me to feel overwhelmed. This ten minutes doesn’t need to be a walk in nature, deep breathing, and/or exercising… although all are excellent options.
But what I am really talking here is a short window of time that can be spent doing anything that you feel you need to do in order to get past this slight bump in the road, without thinking or talking about the bump! It can be playing a video game, watching a few minutes of TV, catching up with friends, reading your favorite book, or whatever else strikes you at the moment. This is kind of like allowing yourself to eat the chocolate chip cookie instead of the salad and not beating yourself up over it.
After indulging in a short period of downtime, I would always feel recharged and ready to face my responsibilities again. I’m certain that you will too.
It is key to actually incorporate these moments of strategic procrastination into your daily schedule.
By merely knowing that every two hours, for example, you will have ten strategic moments all to yourself, and you’ll find that your productivity increases by nearly twofold!
However (and this is a BIG however) I can’t stress it enough, this time is for you and for you only. It is not completing some other task that you need to do, or for the purposes of helping others. Yes, I am telling you to be 100% selfish during these moments. After all when your emotional tank is empty due to stress, not only does it harm your productivity AND your health, but also leaves little energy for those whom you love. And that is what makes this type of procrastination strategic!
For more about strategic procrastination, check out Crazy Meets Common Sense! Podcast 6 Feature Topic:
Included In The Discussion:
- The reasons we avoid certain tasks in our lives.
- How “regular procrastination” can eventually cause health issues.
- The impact that lying has on our health.
- How our perception is directly related to procrastination.
- Why Strategic Procrastination is a major game-changer.
- How you can successfully incorporate strategic procrastination in your life!