Nov 25

Is Procrastination Always a Bad Thing?

my opinion

What are you putting off?

It's a problem that confronts us all from time to time. You have something to do... and you just keep putting it off. BUT... perhaps reframing that can help a bit. This technique has helped me to see procrastination as a necessary part of the process. See what you think!

Video transcript

Whether you’re a trainee teacher, already in the classroom, a teacher trainer or running your own business, I KNOW you’ve come up against this situation.

There’s this thing on your To Do list. It’s got to be done. It’s a lot of work. The deadline is looming and you keep putting it off. Sound familiar?
If you want to know how I deal with this, keep watching.

I'm Jo Gakonga from ELT training, I've been in ALL of these situations and I know what procrastination feels like. I'm actually a person who always gets well prepared before deadlines but this also gives me the possibility to keep putting things off.

A good example of this was when I was doing my PhD, especially in the writing phases. It's a mountain of work and I don't actually love academic writing very much, so it was a big task every time. I knew that I had to get down to it but somehow cleaning the kitchen always seem much more urgent or I would decide that if I went for a walk I'd be able to get down to it after that and I KNOW that this is common feeling.

BUT a realisation that made it all much easier for me to handle- and I hope it might help you- is understanding that this procrastination is actually part of the process of the work.

I have this image in my head of oxen ploughing a field. I know this is old-fashioned but bear with me. Now, once those oxen are ploughing, they’re doing a job that's hard, but you can see the progress. But before you start to plough you have to be yoked up and you can't start the work before you've done all of that yoking up.

Another image in my head that helped was the idea of walking on the flat towards a mountain. You know you've got to climb that mountain, but you've got to get there first.

The main idea here is that procrastination is part of the process. It's not a distraction from it.

For me at least, it's a STAGE that I have to go through and as soon as I started seeing it like that, it became much easier. I could see that although it felt as if I wasn't doing anything towards the work, in a funny kind of way I was because this stage HAD to be gone through and this meant that pretty soon I'd be yoked up and ready to start ploughing or at the bottom of the mountain and ready to start climbing.

For me this thought really helped take the pressure off. It stopped me beating myself up about cleaning the kitchen and it put a much more positive frame on the time when I wasn't actually working. I was actually working. I just had to go through this phase in order to get to the work.

I don't know if that helps anybody else but just in case it does, I offer it to you. And if you're at the stage of procrastinating about developing as a teacher then go ahead and clean the kitchen but then go to my website and have a look at what I have to offer.

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