How many of you would admit to daydreaming on the job? For optimum production, daydreaming is often viewed as a waste of time, something to be avoided completely when seeking accomplishment.
In fact, in traditional work settings, daydreaming is associated with laziness and many feel productivity is valued far above creativity.
However, daydreaming has been studied for years by the neuroscience community. It has been discovered that the brain actually uses this “downtime” to make sense of past events and solve problems in a connective dream-like phase. Brain activity recorded during these seemingly non-productive moments actually proves the presence of high-level inward processing.
The brain takes advantage of time made available for daydreaming to explore the inner realms of its data files searching for connections and meaning.
Quite comically, my coffee mug sits on my desk displaying the words, “I might look like I am doing nothing, but in my head, I am quite busy.”, aptly defining the phrase “Dedicated Daydreaming” for me.
Creativity is simmering in the background, in a space some call nothing. At times, I invite my creative coaching clients to mark time on their calendars with the event called “Nothing”. This is where the behind the scenes “work” happens.
In a world where people are yearning to change, find ways to reach goals, and get ahead many are focused on production strategies. Disconnecting from planners, to-do lists, and organizational tools seems counterproductive and is forcefully resisted.
However, appearances can be deceiving. When we consider ideas that are in opposition to the norm or popular way of thinking, we open ourselves up to possibilities. Possibilities, that may not have existed before we provided the needed processing time, emerge. We are able to solve long-standing and seemingly unsolvable issues. We open the way for creativity that expresses connections and relationships discovered deep within us.
Excessive focus can actually drain our mental energy preventing us from “seeing” what really matters.
It is through eyes of understanding creativity flourishes, as doorways to invisible passages are opened before us.
Below the surface of forced productivity, our creative hearts long to be freed. Your brain only needs time to process the alignment.
Creative ideas are waiting to be realized even if only a whisper deep within your soul. Dare to unfocus and intentionally make time for daydreaming.
Procrastination is a noun meaning “the action of delaying or postponing, or being undecided, or indecisive”. This can and is often naturally perceived as an unhealthy and negative approach to life or work.
Ironically the words used to define this word typically relate to me at times. What the definition neglects to add or show is what I’m capable of after I take the necessary time, to postpone an action, until I feel decisive enough to move forward. Procrastination has been followed by the creation of some of my best work.
Chronic procrastination is another topic and I agree that it can stand in your way of personal success. I also will not argue that chronic procrastination is healthy, only that intermittent procrastination is not necessarily unhealthy or negative.
We live in a world of instant gratification and knee-jerk decision making. Sometimes it even appears necessary for survival in this fast-paced technology driven society.
Where does that leave the super-analytical idea-generating dreamer? In the land of procrastination.
When life’s crises and setbacks catapult us toward unmovable walls of choices that contradict our values and sense of wholeness, isn’t it only fair that we take a minute to procrastinate until we can stand on our own two feet to take a step.
Rather than believing that procrastination is the problem, we need to understand that too much action all of the time needs to be balanced with a bit of procrastination. Taking the time you need to recover from an traumatic event and delaying decision making while you postpone work can actually be a positive coping method.
Honoring ourselves even in our moments of hesitation, vacillation, and perhaps overall indecisiveness is only an indicator that we are not ready to take action.
Sometimes taking time to “kick the can down the road”, allows us the time to think or feel our way to the appropriate action.
Perhaps procrastination can be productive after all. In fact the dictionary refers to it as an action. Could it be that procrastination is an activity that leads to taking the appropriate action?
I have coined the phrase, purposeful procrastination, to give you permission to procrastinate because it has its purpose. Everyone does it sooner or later. We can’t be “on” all the time. It is the lack of focused attention that allows our minds to explore resourceful avenues of thinking. Without the burden or requirement of instant action, we are given the momentary gift of contemplation, not unlike our ancient greek philosophers when they allowed themselves to enjoy a garden in the middle of their libraries.
Procrastination always leads me to books. Books feed and satiate my desire to learn more about everything. At times, “the more” causes temporary paralysis as I allow the inspirations to sink deep within my soul. It is at this time that I find procrastination settles in nicely as imagination and creativity simmer beneath the surface.
Yes, procrastination to a type A, controlling, non-analytical, “need to make a quick decision” and “fly by the seat of your pants” individual could be viewed as a negative trait.
It is here I ask you to closely and honestly examine the reasons behind your procrastination. Is it to avoid failure or delay something you believe to be harmful? Or are you procrastinating because you’ve chosen to allow time to reflect and contemplate before taking your next move? Or maybe it’s simply laziness because you feel like doing nothing? The latter being what I choose when housework becomes necessary.
If you are choosing to procrastinate for reasons that seem right for you, you are in the game-changing space I call simmering creativity.
Again, to push my point across the table into the arena of wolves that would eat me alive for preaching contentment and positivity in procrastination. I’ll share an anecdote.
Say you were asked to make a difficult life-changing decision in a short meeting and you were feeling pressured by a deadline placed before you to make your final choice. All the while; everyone around you is hungry, quick witted, and utterly confident with their responses. You, however, ask to get up from the table and go for a walk, using the language “I’d like to procrastinate.”
Perhaps this procrastination goes on longer than expected and you don’t return to the meeting. You now accept that you may have lost your seat at the table of wolves.
The next day you return to the same room. It’s empty. Everyone has left. But you are clear on your decision. You are extremely enthusiastic and confident. However today there is only a maintenance man in the room. So you tell him,
“I’ve decided it’s time to move on in a completely different direction.”
And he smiles at you approvingly and says “Great choice! You know, everyone was forced to leave yesterday for making the wrong decision to stay.”
What you didn’t know is a decision didn’t actually need to be made. Someone, somewhere decided that everyone MUST make an immediate decision. Yet that decision had already been made, governed by outside circumstances. Life changed for everyone in the room on the outside on that day but it also changed your life on the inside as you used it to your advantage to come to terms with the right decision for you. Forced decisions rarely work out for anyone in the end.
I’ve presented that decision making is a process as is creative development. We cannot rush or force ourselves to jump through hoops that we are not ready for. Procrastination is a necessary pause to catch up with ourselves so that we can fully invest in our decisions moving forward.