Procrastination, the act putting off or delaying or deferring an action to a later time, is something that most of us seem to be good at. Be it the week before the finals examination or even the evening before a presentation, most of us would rather put away task completion and replace it with more often than not, mundane activities that may actually get us nowhere. The very essence of procrastination lies in the fact that you can indulge yourself in a series of activities that are not even remotely pertinent to the task whose deadline you are expected to meet. Whether it’s an essay or a reading assignment that you’re running away from, you could always involve yourself in something entirely unrelated yet enriching.
They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. The usual process of procrastination involves being glued to assorted unimportant webpages, social networking, listening to music and randomly staring into space. It’s all too main-stream. How about we use the precious skill that most of us carry of being able to put off a task for ‘some other time’ for some benefit for ourselves? At the end of the day, there is so much we all would love to learn/do, but we do not actually act on those whims. Perhaps, this could be of help to you. Following are 10 ways to help you procrastinate better, something you will not regret trying in the future.
1. Spend time with your loved ones
We, human beings are called social-animals, and it is so for a reason. We were made to socialize and embrace other human beings and involve ourselves in social domiciles. By shutting ourselves away with our respective laptops and books, we are only going against our very nature. Nobody wants to die alone, and the best thing you could do with your long periods of procrastination is maintaining existing relations and forging new ones.
It is everything in a single package, it satisfies our needs for social affiliation, it satisfies our needs for love and affection it satisfied our desire to be heard and appreciated. Spending time with your loved ones could be the key to unlocking the mysteries that your machine-like lifestyle presents to you. It does not necessarily have to be an outing, per-say it could be just a simple game of poker or a beer at the nearest sports bar. Anything that you like, it will do you more good than any number of hours in front of your computer on a social networking site.
2. Meditation and pursuit of spirituality
We all love to procrastinate and brag about everything that we did whilst procrastinating. Have any of us given much thought to the fact that the need to procrastinate could actually be our body’s cry for help? Perhaps, we are beginning to rust from within and our body and mind are succumbing to the pressure and the need for speed in our highly volatile surroundings.
It is always wonderful to be able to get away from it all and build a personal space for ourselves. Being alone with our thoughts can actually be a good way to rid the body of all the stress that have accumulated in us over a period of time. It could be something as simple as an extra hour at university to something as complex as the fear of aging that could be overpowering our minds and crippling it from within. Meditating improves concentration and it provides the much needed relief that we more often than not, forget to give our mind and body. We are all so involved in leading a perfect urban lifestyle that we ignore the very fundamental problems that are manifested in it. Meditating and relaxing far away from the reaches of urbanization can rejuvenate us and prepare us for whatever is yet to come.
3. Nurture a reading habit
The habit of reading is one of the most severely misunderstood concepts. People always equate reading with a large amount of effort. Contrary to popular belief, reading does not drain you mentally and does not consume too much effort. Surely, it takes time and there is a joy that one finds in turning the pages of a book and being transported to a whole different world.
Reading opens your outlook and it weaves you into a story, when you are a part of the story you experience whatever happens as though it is happening to you. This way, you find it easier to stand in someone else’s shoes. Books don’t necessarily have to be novels. They could either be your favourite sportsman’s autobiography or a political satire or even a cook-book on everything novel in the culinary world. You will know only when you allow yourself to be lost in a book. All of our technological advancement and gadget knowledge and affinity can take the back-seat for a while. Going old school can do much good for our body, mind and perhaps our soul!
You see, capturing moments actually compensate for the innate need of us human beings to store memories. We all want to remember that lovely moment when our best friend announced that she had been admitted to the college of her dreams. Of course, we all resort to clicking pictures of the moment and storing them in our collection of memorabilia. But you see, the problem is, often in moments that we really crave for perfection, there will always be numerous faults with our pictures. In today’s world of high definition and sharp images, we cannot afford to lag behind with badly shot pictures. So, whenever you do find yourself with nothing of interest to you, you could always invest some time into learning how to click pictures the right way.
Slowly, as you find your photography skills being on the road to perfection, you could even invest on a good camera. You see, nowadays, a good camera is a guaranteed mean to get yourself a good name. People always want to be pictured and certainly, the pictures cannot make them look ugly or shoddy. You, with your camera and your acquired photography skills can be their Messiah. The added advantage is that you have a lovely collection of memories for yourself, uncompromised by bad camera angles and too much of flash. Also, since we’re living in an age of social networking, you could always demonstrate your work over the internet and get appreciated for it.
All those who procrastinate on a regular basis know, that sleeping is an integral part of procrastinating. We all find ourselves losing sleep over a myriad things, events and people. Procrastination periods are the best time to compensate for some lost sleep and give your brain and body that much needed rest. Even otherwise, sleeping has not killed anyone, in fact after a nice long nap, when you do decide to complete the task that you have been avoiding, you may actually be highly productive at what you do.
Sleep-cycles have not been called ‘beauty sleep’ for no reason. Sleep is truly effective in making you look and feel better. Sleeping helps you relax your senses, calm your nerves and keep all those problems that bother you at bay. You also find yourself dreaming, which is an ideal escapists’ desire. Sleep also translates into better looks, better bodily functions and better concentration when you wake. If not for scientific reasons, you could always grab some extra eye shut just for the sake of the ecstatic comfort it gives you.
6. Learn to play an instrument
You will be surprised at how many instruments can be learned easily with close to no professional guidance and a little bit of practice at the comfort of your homes. Ever found yourself mesmerized by the guitar backgrounds of a song? Ever wished you could play an instrument like the flute and lose yourself in the beautiful melodies you produce? Well, here’s your chance. All you have to do is invest a little bit in the instrument and get yourself a tutorial. It could be online, or you could ask one of your friends to help you learn? The fun part about learning an instrument is that it builds your self confidence. You’re always going to begin sounding ridiculous and absolutely hateful, but as you progress you will find yourself playing the instrument with ease and making some really beautiful music. You could even jam with a couple of friends, and really be able to lighten up. Music is a powerful tool and being able to make some music can never cause any harm to you. If you pick up the skill of playing a guitar, you could even make the mandatory and boring family get together interesting. You can always win some points among people you want to impress if you can play an instrument and create some nice music.
The necessity here is that you display some levels of dedication. You’re never going to get the tune right in the first go, so you’re going to have to be patient with it. Take it slow, practice harder and one day, who knows, you could be the next music sensation, or you could be just a really happy person who made the best out of some procrastination sessions.
7. Pen down your thoughts
Ever wonder if you have a hidden talent for writing? The best part about creative writing is that it gives you immense scope for creativity. You could experiment with some free verse or you could try your hand at a style that you have come across for the first time.
Writing is actually a really productive outlet because the better you are at expressing yourself on paper, the finer your communication skills get. We all need a strong set of communication skills in order to survive in this competitive world. Even the boss who is expecting your presentation tomorrow morning can be bowled over with perfectly average content if you have the right kind of communication skills needed to pull it off. You need to be able to sell your thoughts and you’re never going to be able to do it effectively unless you have picked up a few skills along the way.
The thing about writing is that it is of use in every facet of life. Documentation has been a major part of every system there is and if you’re successful at documenting the right things in a qualitative manner, you know have succeeded in building yourself a decent lifestyle. Creative writing also gives you the advantage of toying around with flamboyance. Ever wondered how special you could make your mother feel if you could turn around a simple ‘I love you’ into a little poem? You see, words can be extremely impactful. Why is it that we remember things that Samuel T Coleridge wrote in his poetry and what Albert Camus writes so passionately, yet absurdly? It is because they have exploited the most powerful artillery of words. Now that you’ve decided to procrastinate, why not try your hand at a couple of free verses or letters to loved ones? In your head, you could be building castles with the most alluring architecture, but what good is thought if you cannot put it on paper?
8. Cook and then eat.
A large percentage of the people tend to gorge on a lot of food during an extended period of procrastination. This is actually a really useful area where you could do with some skill development. When you love to eat, why not try to love cooking. Some of the really yummy dishes are also really easy to make. Also, you can never go wrong with honing a few culinary skills because you know your loved ones will give you those extra brownie points if you bake them a couple of brownies. Don’t already write this off as something that someone over the internet came up with, cooking is actually an activity that ups the quality of your procrastination. Also, cooking helps you customize what you eat. Maybe, the person who makes your Jalapeño poppers simply does not get your want for more cheese, but you do. If you’re going to begin to question the legitimacy of this suggestion, I suggest you do so after you’ve tried your hand at the kitchen. Word of caution; begin with something really simple like spicy scrambled eggs or an egg bhurji. Also, google is your friend, so do not stop yourself from looking through the nitty-grittys of the dish you intend to cook up. You see, the advantage of having some basic culinary skills is that it will ensure that you are not going to go hungry, and also, a solid position in your social circuit because people really love a person who can cook, even if it is something really simple. After all, many people in our planet live only to eat.
9. TV Shows and Movies
While procrastinating, we also find ourselves falling prey to boredom. When we’re bored we are also a little too lazy to work our brains to learning something or even remotely indulging in activities that need any effort. It is in times like these that the television or your laptop come to rescue you and transport you to another world of entertaining yourself even while you are essentially as good as a log.
Television shows are in plenty, many of them have been experts in improving the process of procrastination for decades. To name a few, The Big Bang Theory, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, Monty Python, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock and Modern Family. You will not regret watching entire seasons of the aforementioned tv series as they have been tried and tested cure to the lethal combination of boredom and laziness. All you have to do is, grab your laptop, get yourself some comfortable seating to amble upon and perhaps, if you need it, some snacks that you can munch on while these tv shows slowly drag you towards them and have you super-glued.
As for movies, you know you can never go wrong when you pick a movie to watch in your two hour procrastination period. Picking a movie, these days, is easier said than done. There are so many movies that you have to pick from, that the process of settling down on one option may itself take forever. You may as well do a little bit of a google search and look for movies that have fared well world over. Procrastination does not necessarily have to be executed well with main-stream cinema, this could be your chance to delve into the depths of experimental cinema and see what that experience gives you. A new perspective, entertainment and maybe dialogues that pack a real punch are some of the many benefits of squeezing in some movie time. Try some Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher; they are the contemporary godfathers of entertaining as well as brainy cinema.
10. Work-out when you’re not working
Exercise is a great outlet for most negative emotions that we may harbour. The good thing about exercise is that it is always a win-win activity. Given the amount of time we spend surrounding ourselves with appliances and gadgets that do not require us to move, we are receding farther and farther into the world of couch potatoes. It is not only about fat anymore, it is also about our high-stress levelled lifestyle and general apathy towards maintaining good health.
If one were to spend even as long as an hour a day, from the time that one spends on perfectly useless procrastination, one may actually live longer. Now, who doesn’t want to live a long life? Low amounts of physical activity increase the risk of developing a cardiac disease. We all do procrastinate for a reason, it is because we want to live each moment to the fullest and not waste it writing that project report that your boss said is due in a couple of days. Why not procrastinate and ensure that you do not fall prey to lifestyle disorders and find yourself incapable of doing everything you love?
The best part about working out is that there are really just a couple of rules. You can always chalk out a work-out plan that fits you perfectly. Working out also sits in very well to music. So you may as well be listening to ‘Rubber Soul’ by The Beatles as you stretch yourself or as you spin away all of those accumulated calories and negativity in you.
Working out also has some serious spiritual benefits, working out gives you an immense sense of satisfaction as you wipe away those dollops of sweat from the 45 minutes that have just spent jogging on the treadmill. We all may love lazing around and staring at our computer screens, but really, we all are high-functioning narcissists and a little bit of work out is actually, a humongous boost to our ego, self-esteem, self-confidence and how we look at ourselves. Get off your lazy butt and go jog a little bit, it will only help you live a little longer, that time you could perhaps spend procrastinating some more.