There is Life After the Thesis

After chronicling my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences throughout the thesis process on this blog (formerly entitled Rites of a Thesis), it seemed odd to me to simply let the blog go just because I had turned in my thesis and graduated. I don't want to merely "shelve" my thesis nor do I want all that I got from my time at Naropa to lie dormant. I want my thesis to continue to live and breathe and become, and I would like all the teachings and experiences I had during my time at Naropa to do the same. So I am keeping the blog (changing the title), and am commiting to myself to (w)rite on as I journey forward.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is Procrastination a Ritual? (Revisited)

Back on January 7, I wrote a very short post in response to this entry title. I stated that I wasn't sure. That I was "waiting to find out."

In order to come to a conclusive answer to this title question, I had to do some experiential research. For almost three months now, I have observed myself procrastinating, and here are my results:

First of all, let me be clear: choosing to go to dinner or a movie or anything recreational isn't what I would deem "procrastinating." It is a conscious choice to do something other than what I really should be doing. Procrastination isn't truly conscious. However, it is a necessity. Let me explain:

I discovered that I practice three different means of procrastination. The first type I have named "productive procrastination." When I practice "productive procrastination," I am definitely procrastinating, but at the same time, I am attending to specific tasks that need to be accomplished at some point. These tasks range from household chores, such as washing the dishes, dusting, vacuuming, and folding laundry to focusing on work-related tasks, such as prepping for classes or grading. While these are worthwhile "to-do's," they are also a means of avoiding what I should be working on: namely, my thesis.

The second type of procrastination in which I engage is of the "couch potato" variety. This is procrastination by way of television, books, magazines, crossword puzzles, or suduko. My brain is "engaged," but I am by no means attending to the work I am supposed to be attending to: namely, my thesis.

The third type of procrastination I have explored is what I have dubbed "white fuzz" procrastination. This is where I completely zone out. I may not even be aware that I am avoiding my work, or not attending to it. I go into the "fuzz." This is where I sit, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes for an hour, and literally do nothing. I mean nothing. I am not even aware that I am doing nothing. It's a time warp. It is almost as if I am biologically procrastinating. My brain shuts down and sends an all-points bulletin to the rest of my body to stop. Completely. But not to sleep. To "fuzz."

I realize that it seems like the three types of procrastination I mentioned above could be choices, However, in my process, they are not. They are a necessity. They are a part of how I do my work. My brain needs to gear up. It needs a "running start" - even if that running start is "white fuzz." I need a respit built into my work bit.

Some people may not need such a thing. Other people might be conscientiously, consciously focused - able to see a task at hand and go at it. Others might say, "play time," like going to dinner or the movies is their "down time," and when they're done with that, they can get on with their work. However, that just isn't the case with me.

I need to procrastinate. I can't quite "pencil it in," or schedule it. My psyche doesn't work that way. But I do have to account for it. Maybe because when I know I need to go to it and focus, I need the urgency factor: the now-or-never kick to get on it...because I have procrastinated.

It used to be that I was embarrassed to admit that I procrastinate. But I am not embarrassed any longer. I am a procrastinator. See? I said it. "Hi, my name is Nicky, and I am a procrastinator." Admittance is the first step to dealing with this fact. And the fact is, that's who I am. That's what I do. But now - now that I have admitted that it's simply a part of my process, it's simply that: part of my process. And I can say that, shame-free.

And, yes: yes it is a ritual...of sorts. A preliminary ritual. Because it has meaning and value to me. It is how I begin. It is a necessary element of my process.

So if there are any other procrastinators out there who are feeling badly about being one: You are not alone. There is hope. Admit who you are and what you do. Turn your mind around to the idea that there is another way to look at it. Accept that procrastination is simply a part of your process, and go on from there.

Here I go...

1 comment:

twistedboy said...

when I think "procrastination", I think, unhelpful, bad habit (pejorative).. what you describe as "procrastination" I wouldn't think of in that negative tone. Unless, yes, there was a conscious avoidance. I used to be a shameful procrastinator. Meaning though, that I couldn't with any avoidance of guilt put things off. Now, with maturity perhaps, it is all with due time, and part of the process, and indeed, a ritual.