My journey to connect with purpose and passion.

Myth of Procrastination and Productivity

I listen to something while I walk. I bounce between multiple windows while I work. I'm in a constant state of stress about looming deadlines, even as I waste time on remembered tasks of little importance.

I spent an entire weekend reading a sci-fi pulp series. I raced through each book, completely immersed. As Monday loomed, the sickness found it's voice. I had wasted my weekend. I had procrastinated the work I needed to do.

But what if I have it backwards? What if my soul craves long periods of time where I am able to immerse myself and be fully present – even if that involves space knights falling from the sky like iron rain.

Productivity is a sickness. It is the quality of presence that holds our desired reward.

The past two days I have awoken to the insanity of my daily existence. How I struggle to be present. Even as I write these words, I feel the urge to listen to something on my headphones or to check my email. I'm waiting to hear from a client, aren't I? Was that the beep of a chat message?

I always blamed my procrastination for that horrid panic of cramming all my effort into those last few precious minutes before a deadline. Now I see that I have been tricked. Blaming procrastination traps me in the paradigm where I am forever distracted and unsettled.

It is life spent alternating between distracted and panicked. The only constant is the voice of blame in my head, chiding myself for procrastinating yet again.

The culprit is not procrastination. It is a lack of focus and presence. It is an inability to take a deep breath and just be fully here with what is happening or needed in the moment. 

I tell myself that I am better when I am doing three things at once. I dash to email, fire something off, remember a task, launch my browser, log into a service, check my stats, spend 2 minutes manically trying to remember the task that brought me to my browser, remember it, log into a different service, do the task, then drift aimlessly between all my windows wondering what was next.

I am a machine of disconnection. Or rather, I was.

Now I am learning to breathe. I keep my task list handy. When something comes up, I simply add it to the list. Then I let it go and return to what I was focused on doing. Slowly, less interruptions surface. A calm focus begins to emerge, freed from the bouncing distractions, the fear and the malaise.

I expect to slip back into my old ways. I hope only that I grow better at catching myself and returning to the present moment.

How do you stay focused? Do you have a ritual? A practice? Methods? Tools? Please share.


My JourneySean HowardComment