Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can procrastination be a positive trait? Does reading help shape one's mind?

I know the title of this post may seem disjointed but first things first, a story below-
Part 1 of the Story:
"Procrastination is a thief of time"- With this very quote Edward Young, i got introduced to the word Procrastination years back.
Then this quote prompted me to look at the dictionary for the very meaning of this word and it said "To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness". I also inferred Procrastination on the same lines as Absent mindedness.
While doing my Handwriting Analysis basic course (this course taught me determining different personality traits using in isolation using handwriting), I learnt Procrastination to be associated with word "delay".
More recently, while reading one of the fine books i have read in recent times a calmer you , the author described Procrastination as tendency to keep putting things on the back-burner, till the time they snowball into a crazy overload.
Over the years, i attended various Self-development seminars and all of these made my belief about Procrastination being a negative trait more firm.

End of Part 1

Part 2 of the Story:
It was not until i read two of the books that i quite admire that i started to change my rather established perception about Procrastination. First of the two books is Eat that Frog . It introduced me to the term "Creative Procrastination" and that got me thinking "Wow, can we apply creativity to Procrastination". The principle of Creative procrastination is based on a simple fact that we all know but somehow don’t acknowledge as much. The fact is that one cannot do everything that one has to do. You have to procrastinate on something. Therefore, procrastinate on small tasks. To me, the beauty of this approach is the fact that it encourages us to acknowledge the fact that everyone procrastinates and its only very human to procrastinate. This very acknowledgement releases a lot of stress that we often associate with this word. And secondly, it satisfy this inherent urge to procrastinate it allows us to procrastinate more on posteriorities than priorities.

The concept of "Creative procrastination" sounded all fine and sensible to me as suggested by the book- "Eat that Frog". It was not until i read Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success by James Bach , that i could visualize "Creative Procrastination" in action. In this book, the James shares a lots of self-education heuristics that has made him successful. Few such heuristics are- "The Procrastinate and Push Heuristic" and also "Plunge in and Quit Heuristic". James says-

Procrastination occurs when i am committed to a task, I have the opportunity to do it, and yet i do something else that seems less important. I often procrastinate when i need to study, learn, write or synthesize new ideas. I call that creative procrastination.

The Self Learning heuristics mentioned are much based on the idea of creative procrastination.
End of Part 2


My Learnings #1: Procrastination can be a positive trait
Quite obvious inference is that Procrastination is not a bad trait, after all. More important than that- Never be judgmental on Personality traits. One of the lessons that i learned from my advanced course in Handwriting Analysis is that it is not quite right to be judgmental about human personality traits. There is nothing called as a good trait or a bad trait. If you look around the workplace, one of the easiest thing is to be judgmental about the people around you. "That guy is just a Lazy fellow", "My boss doesn’t have listening ability", "He is very stubborn in his approach" and many other such statements or judgments, should i say do rounds in the workplace and more often these are based on first thought or first impression, which is often not so right.

Reading the above stories word Procrastination, would you dismiss it as a negative trait as i used to do ? I guess No. Most of the traits have meaning that are context based and judgments that we derive are without the knowledge of that context.

My Learnings #2: Reading does help shape one’s mind in a big way
One of the more profound learnings that i had in the journey from Part 1 of the story to Part 2 is about the power of reading. Most of our preferences and perceptions gets formed based on what we consume from our environment. Reading is one sure way to feed our brains. My perception about Procrastination as a negative trait got formed largely due to the reading and then the counter perception also got formed due to reading. As is evident in this case, reading resulted in collision of ideas in the brain and it eventually bombarded the incorrect perception and resulted in a more balanced view about procrastination. More i think about it, the more i realize that to be more the better ways to learn i.e. read about contrasting ideas, breed them and let them collide in mind and the end result will be you- a person with balanced opinions and better perspectives about the things around you.

Well, to admit writing this piece has in itself been an exercise in creative procrastination. I started writing a while back but kept holding back till i had all the ideas in place and the ideas were presented close to the way i wanted them to be in. As James Bach inferred- Creative mind knows no deadlines!

Do you still find the title of this post disjointed ? I think No, If you have read till here!

3 comments:

testalways said...

Positive or negative after I looked in the wikipedia I think I have this procrastination. LOL

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