Wasting Time Productively - Avoiding or Finding Your Way?
Wasting time productively may not be a new catchphrase. Or a new concept. Pamela Madsen, dear friend and fertility advocate used it the other day and it started occupying space and spinning around in my thoughts.
Why does it resonate so deeply for me?
What does it even mean?
Is it when I clean the kitchen but what really needs to be done is a PathtoFertility blog? Is it when I answer emails and what is more pressing is working on the Fertile Yoga calendar?
I think yes. Or at least yes for me, that is wasting time productively. I can honestly say that I am taking care of something that truly does need to be taken care of, at least at some time during the day. Dishes do need to be cleaned, emails do need to be answered, no question about that.
Wasting time productively ends up feeling vaguely unsatisfying though, and maybe that’s the major tip off when it’s happening. Yes, something important or necessary is being accomplished; no, it’s not the task that is actually supposed to be receiving my attention. That vague dissatisfaction tends to build up during the day, as I work hard and still, I am avoiding the items that are most crucial and so I don’t feel productive.
Ah. I just realized another word for the phrase “wasting time productively”. It’s called procrastination. Procrastination has a negative connotation, for good reason.
Here’s an online dictionary definition of procrastinate:
Procrastinate means putting off doing something until a future time. When people sit down to write term papers, they can find all kinds of clever ways to procrastinate: reorganizing the paperclips, calling everyone they know, typing "I am bored" fifty times in a row.
The verb procrastinate is from Latin prōcrāstināre, from prō-"forward" plus crāstinus "of tomorrow," from crās "tomorrow." Some synonyms are defer, postpone, and delay, though these words often apply to more positive reasons for inaction. The reason for procrastination is often assumed to be laziness, or just that the task or action is unpleasant and difficult to begin
Procrastination and Its Bad Rap
The bad rap that procrastinating gets is in the heart of this definition, “The reason for procrastination is often assumed to be laziness, or just that the task or action is unpleasant and difficult to begin”.
So I will just own it. I procrastinate. I am not a recovering procrastinator. I am an active procrastinator. There are many things that I put off because I don’t like doing them.
Wasting time productively can have a slightly different spin though. I have come to realize that I don’t take care of things, especially details on the same time table that others often do. I read a great quote in a daily meditation book that I read every day that seemed to answer some of the questions brought up by wasting time productively. Or at least my version of procrastination.
“You must be before you can do. To accomplish much, be much. The doing must be the expression of being.”
My instinct is to slow down, to do less, even as I am encouraged and even pressured to do more, faster. It’s coming together though, that my leaning towards slower is not out of laziness. Rather it’s out of yearning for feeling my way into a state of being that I can recognize and honor and express through my actions.
A little less emphasis on doing and a little more appreciation for being. For quiet. For slower. For pausing before answering or speaking.
From this quieter place, I find that I become prepared for creative and productive action.
Opposite of wasting time productively.
Yep, I think that pretty much nails it.
What do you think? Can you tell me, share with me, what you do to productively waste time?
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I have a tendency to procrastinate. Generally, this actually works fairly well for me and I have come to accept it. I find that when I wait, something slips into place that had I moved to action immediately, would not have been possible. So, although procrastination has gotten a bad reputation, I have made peace with the fact that this is how I do things, and that in fact, it's not laziness, but a realization that over-planning, for me, often, is not my best choice.
Infertility and infertility treatment is planned out exactly, in terms of medication, procedures and blood draws. Except. A great big, huge except. Except when follicles grow more quickly/less quickly; except when there aren't enough follicles; except when one's body reacts more/less to the medication than anticipated; except when bloodwork doesn't indicate what is needed; except when sperm count is not where it needs to be; except when ovulation comes earlier/later than planned; except when a treatment cycle needs to be adjusted from IVF to IUI; except when you need to reschedule work days off from Monday to Friday.
You get the idea. A fertility treatment cycle is planned and then things happen. You are an unique individual. Your body is unique as well. Sometimes things go exactly as expected; often they do not.
Here's an excerpt from an article from Yoga Journal, written by Sally Kempton. She's been meditating and writing about meditation for about 30 years and is the founder of Dharana Institute.
Put simply, it looks like this: You do your best to control reality, to make your life function smoothly and efficiently. You also strive to keep your mind and emotions under control. At the same time, part of you longs for flow. Somewhere deep down, you know that a crisis or a meltdown can serve to push you past the psychic barriers you erect against the unpredictable and lead you back to the roller-coaster-like sense of freedom that can arise when your plans are suddenly overturned. You've probably also felt how resisting life's flow nearly always seems to create suffering.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all are engaged in a pas de deux between our desire to keep things under control and our longing to ride with the unpredictable. On one hand, control is essential. Without it, we would never mature, never accomplish our goals, and never transform bad habits. Our safety and productivity—indeed, the social contract itself—depends on our collective ability to control our impulses, check our tempers, make plans, and keep our commitments. When we say that someone is out of control (unless we're talking about a rock star going into fourth gear onstage), we usually mean that the person is dangerous to herself and others.
At the heart of any control issue is the desire for personal power. Essentially, we measure our empowerment by how well we control our inner and outer environment.
Externally, we express our power by how well we're able to control and manage our time, work, reputation, finances, and—admit it!—the other people in our lives. Internally, we take power by controlling our bodies—think of how good it feels when you hold a Headstand a minute longer than usual or resist eating the extra cookie—as well as our thoughts and emotions. We try to think positively or take deep breaths, instead of lashing out at a family member. We get down to work when we secretly feel like watching a movie. In so many ways, control is good, necessary, and admirable.
But then there's the other side of the story. That useful, necessary control mechanism has a tendency to turn tyrannical. Too much control deadens the life force in you. And the line between too much and too little can be hairline fine.
Sally goes on to discuss the other side of control, the control freak side of control. One that many of us become familiar with in fertility treatment. We just want things to go the way they are supposed to, the way we were told they were going to, they way that they need to for us to become pregnant. And it is scary and upsetting when treatment changes course or timing is different than we expected.
Sally goes to on to say this in the Yoga Journal article:
However you slice it, the control freak has two big problems. The first is that, when you let her dominate, she'll try to eliminate everything unpredictable from your life and everyone else's. The second, more serious problem is that, since life is basically out of control, your attempts to control outcomes will often end in frustration. If you can't let go of your need to control when necessary, you'll be at the mercy of your stress hormones.
It's been a stressful week and I felt myself several times go into wanting to overplan, over organize, and decide things too early, before other things were in place. My inner control freak still wants to take over when there's a lot going on. I know when my control freak is taking over by the looks on the faces of those around me. Yep, time to settle into myself when I see that particular look on the faces around me.
So easy to say. Not so easy to do, find balance between control and letting go of control. I find it easier when I look at letting go of control as release. My release of myself and demands and my release of what I am demanding from others.
How're you all doing with this today?