Notes from November – Procrastination & Why It’s Good for You

James Franco gets some much needed rest to fuel his next performance art endeavor.

James Franco gets some much needed rest to fuel his next performance art endeavor.

I had major resistance to writing these notes today.

In fact, my whole body shut down when it came time to sit in front of my computer. My arms ached, and something went numb inside me.

So, you know what I did? 

I listened to my body.

I laid myself down. I went inward. I gave myself space. And somewhere in that space, I started to feel safe, and then I felt an organic inspiration to write.

As I type these words, I’m still in a relaxed state of receptivity: I’m lying down on my good friend’s couch in NYC, with my feet propped up and my head reclined on a comfortable cushion. These notes feel like an outgrowth of self-care rather than a demand I have placed on myself.

I mention this because so many of my clients seem to struggle with the notion of what it means to be productive. There is this underlying dialogue that says, “If I get a certain amount of tasks done, if I can check these items off my to-do list, then I have accomplished something, and I am worthwhile! But if I give into doing nothing, then I am ‘procrastinating,’ and that means I am worthless and deserve to beat myself up!” 

I actually don’t think there is such a thing as procrastination.

I think procrastination is the body’s deeper, wiser call to rest. Relaxation is a much needed part of the creative process. And it is actually an act of self-cruelty to negatively label that need for rest as procrastination.

Osho writes, “Watch in yourself and see: 90 percent of your energy is wasted in activity. And because of this, when the moment for action comes, you don’t have any energy. A relaxed person is simply non-obsessive, and the energy starts accumulating with him. He conserves his energy, it is conserved automatically, and then when the moment comes for action his total being flows into it.”

What if we all let ourselves rest when we felt like doing nothing? What if we placed as big a premium on resting our exhausted minds and bodies as we did on crossing items off our to-do list? What if we ignored the seductive call of being “stressed out” and really let ourselves be? How much more complete would our real actions be? How much deeper would our creative expression run?  

With the holidays coming, the temptation to go, go, go will be stronger than ever. So much to get done, so much to plan, so much to squeeze in before the New Year. But what if you experimented with making resting a priority in your life between now and 2014?

That doesn’t mean ignoring life’s important tasks – it simply means making rest as important as those other tasks.

Our creative lives ask so much of us – especially if you’re really putting your whole self into your work. There is always a choice where you can respect the depth of this request by giving your system the time it craves to simply rest and recharge for those moments of big creative action.

You just might be surprised the effect it has on your writing and overall sense of well being.

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