Procrastination

Procrastination gets a bad rap. Just search for "procrastination quote" and you'll see what I mean. Few people have anything good to say about procrastination. It is treated as the enemy of our 21st century value system where getting things done is the canon to live by. We in the Western world are a business/busyness-focused society, praising completion over contemplation, deadlines over dreaming, and action over idleness. But what if we reframed procrastination? Entrepreneur and serial failure James Altucher offers this thought: "Procrastination is your body telling you you need to back off a bit and think more about what you are doing."

While I don't completely agree with the 'think more' part, I like the spirit of this. I see procrastination as a gift, a resource for exploration and prioritisation. When I procrastinate it is often because i) I don't want to do the thing at all, or ii) I'm not quite ready to do the thing. More idleness and contemplation is needed—not necessarily thought, perhaps more like non-thought, dreaming if you like, uncontrolled wandering of the mind.

This is a monthly newsletter, and my intention is to send an update on the last or penultimate day of each month. On occasion I've done that, on other occasions I have not, and on one occasion I didn't sent it at all. I don't think anyone missed it. As June drew to a close I reminded myself to get this done. But I had no idea what I'd write about, and no interesting photograph from the month to inspire me. Last night I sat down to write it, still with no clear plan, except completion. Delaying further, I became waylaid by another project, a daunting one that I couldn't imagine how to even get started on. However, the drive to not write this newsletter was so great I found myself forced into this amazingly creative space where the daunting project simply flowed from my fingertips. I found focus and I found flow.

The enemy, procrastination also (inadvertently) creates prioritisation. The best way to not do something is to do something else instead, anything else but the thing. This means that I get more housework done, fix-up jobs around the house and garden, play with my children, laze with my wife (not enough of that though), or maybe write something that doesn't need to be written, that has no deadline, and no particular purpose beyond the writing itself. What actually gets done becomes, by definition of being done, if not the most important thing, at least the thing that matters most. Turns out the other thing isn't that urgent, or maybe just doesn't matter. Often it was an illusion fuelled by guilt and duty.

So I offer you this: next time you have an important thing to do, something that's causing you worry or guilt, try not doing it. At all. Clean the bathroom instead. Read a novel. Watch a film, or even better an episode of a soap opera. Sleep. Alphabetise your bookshelf. Paint a picture. Laze in a field of buttercups. Make marmalade.

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor." —D.H. Lawrence

What else did June bring?

Well, a general election, but you know all about that. Work-wise little occurred and it was a month in the red. Socially it was painted in many more colours. We had overnight guests, one from Adelaide and one from Brussels, and were in turn overnight guests with my godson and his family in Leicester. Rayna and Asrai went to Paris for a short visit with Rayna's sister, and Asrai got to spend precious time with her aunt Megan, who she hasn't seen for over a year. I visited Warsaw, and didn't actually see Warsaw, just a hotel and conference rooms. So it goes.

Learning-wise I attended a Fear and Political Chaos seminar with my friend Jem. Rayna continued with her Human Givens study, attending sessions on guided imagery and treating phobias. I had two interesting conversations, one each with my friends Ahmad and Arif, learning about Islamic business principles, and ethics. I was treated to a potted history of Sikhism from the local shop keeper, who wove his own family's history into the tale. And Rayna and I are rereading The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran as part of our morning prayer and preparation ritual.

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance." —Bernard Williams

The romance is over then, wake up to the reality of ongoing relationship, July's own specialty.

That's all for now. I'm looking forward to the dwindling day times.
Tobias


June Writing

In the spirit of this newsletter, accidentally, you'll see I've published nothing this month :) Instead I'd like to recommend a wonderful blog post by my friend Steve Chapman, Certainty sells, but what's the exchange rate? To whet your appetite I extract these four lines, which read to me like a prayer.

we only experience volatility because we seek calmness,
we only experience uncertainty because we seek certainty,
we only experience complexity because we seek simplicity,
we only experience ambiguity because we seek clarity.


1st July 2017