Productivity and Procrastination Are Two Sides Of the Same Coin

Asmita Karanje

Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash

We often ignore emotions when we talk about productivity.

The last few days, I felt like I have gotten no better at procrastination. In my previous article, I had written about the art of procrastination and spoke about ways to overcome it. But to my utter dismay, I think I have my episodes of procrastination and productivity.

Just recently, I spent nearly 2.5 days before I even touched my laptop and started writing. I write my thoughts as and when I get time, but sometimes it is difficult.

For example, consider this scenario

Today — it’s a Saturday, and since Thursday evening I haven’t been able to write. I came back from my office, and I was happy as I got some excellent feedback for my recent deliverables, and that motivated me to write.

But I also had this terrible pain in my feet because of those high heels that I was wearing. So I just rested for a while, took a hot shower and watched some YouTube. By then, I was famished, thought to make some soup., only to be disappointed in finding no suitable ingredients to make soup — the veggies have now expired, stalk cubes that got out of stock (wow, what an irony of my life). Now have to think of another alternative. Not sure, do you also find deciding what to cook more exhausting than cooking itself? Anyway, in doing so, a few hours had now slipped and bam the time is now 10 pm — no time to write or do anything unless I want to borrow time from tomorrow.

It might sound very frivolous even to write about these small things, but the struggle is real, and I cannot undo them instantly because of this side hustle.

I had the intent, and I had the inspiration but still couldn’t get to write the article I wanted to. I don’t understand how I lose all of this time, especially the time that gets lost when I don’t pre-plan it.

But, can you always plan your time and run as per the schedule? Let’s find out.

I used to feel I wasted this much productive time that I could have utilised working out at the gym, swimming, reading a chapter, replied to some office emails, etc. However, what I have come to realise is that you can never adequately plan your entire days and that isn’t bad for multiple reasons

1. The external environment is outside your control

You cannot control the weather, control the office environment, uncomfortable shoes (you can control this but not 100%) and so things don’t always work out as planned.

2. Demands on your time by other people

Most often you get the call from your family or friend, and you cannot accommodate that, but hey you didn’t plan that in your 6-hour task routine and now that 6 hour seems 7 hours because of this. Don’t stress; it is all right.

3. Those simple everyday things that go wrong

The important part is to realise you made a mistake and trying not to do it again and allocating some extra time for these unforeseen circumstances.

As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Thomas Edison

4. The emotional factor — ‘how you feel’ when performing that task

While planning for something important, be it anything, be it an office project, a trip, a big wedding or just running usual errands for that day one of the biggest mistakes we make is not accounting for emotions. We aren’t like robots who can complete one thing after another. We experience many emotions while completing these assignments, and seldom we think or even account for them while planning these big tasks.

And this last reason I think is the most crucial reason why we are so wired into thinking ‘we aren’t good’, ‘we wasted those precious hours’ or ‘we haven’t accomplished much’, and this all the more leads us into a hurricane of negative thoughts before we even realise this.

So in my example of that evening when my feet were aching, and my dinner went for a toss — I wasn’t particularly excited to write. If I would have written, I might have just checked the box, but I know deep down that article would turn out to be just as shitty as my mood. So I should have just cut myself some slack for not writing that day.

Sometimes you have to slow down to be able to run faster.

Now, if this had continued over the next few days, that might have been a sign of procrastination. But this day wasn’t one of them. Not all days are the same, and there will be better days when I am motivated and excited about something and I would have enough capacity to pen it down.

Moreover, procrastination or mood swings are all an integral part of how we feel, and thus, we should not ignore them. If we are physically unwell, we take rest, we see a doctor, and in general, all-in-all treat ourselves. But, if we don’t feel mentally healthy, why do we not take those exact steps?

I know I am probably making procrastination sound like an illness rather than a bad habit. But the real reason we procrastinate is that deep down we don’t feel motivated enough to do something and we had given up even before we fully tried.

In summary, not all non-productive days are equivalent to procrastinating, when you are a repeat offender, introspect to check for signs of an unhealthy mind, and there’s no shame in acknowledging a problem, how else will you be able to solve it? Also, plan for fewer hours than you intend to initially but strive for more meaningful outcomes, be okay with not being able to do everything as per plan and slowly develop a life-long habit to sustain through that routine you built for yourself.

Soak in life, breathe and relax — you are doing just alright if you do not feel like a bot processing all the inputs without feeling a thing.

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX

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