Why A Little Bit Of Procrastination Is Good For The Brain

Today’s article came from doing exactly that, I couldn’t figure what to write about and when I should have been sitting down writing down ideas and brainstorming I realised I was doing anything and everything but.

Many gurus and lifestyle coaches would say that I was procrastinating and not getting on which is correct but I do think that not all procrastination is bad. Instead of writing I had the internet radio station Kool London on playing old school 1990s rave music and while bopping away I was tidying up my desk and reorganising the layout of my laptops and note pads etc.

desk

The better half came in to ask if I wanted any dinner making and when she saw the desk she remarked on how better it looked. I responded by saying that it was really a pointless task that I was doing instead of getting on and that I was in reality just procrastinating.

This then started a conversation about how taking yourself away for five minutes and doing something completely different takes the minds focus off what you were doing and can in fact refresh the brain into coming up with some different ideas either while away from the desk or when you get sat back at the computer.

In fact my messing around moving stuff around meant that I had this conversation and that I came up with the idea for this post. Had I not done the tidying up and reshuffle I would have stayed sat staring at the computer drawing up a blank when trying to think up ideas.

Showers & Toilets:The Eureka Spots!

It is often said that most people get their best ideas and inspired thoughts while having a shower or being sat on the toilet, sounds hard to believe but it is true. When you are doing something like having a shower your mind is completely off the task at hand and is not bogged down with information that could in fact cause you to fail to ‘see the wood from the trees’.

Einstein has a wonderful quote where he said:

einstein quote

Solutions and ideas come easier when we take our minds out of the mind frame we are in when struggling to figure out what to do or how to solve a problem, usually we try and figure out the solutions and ideas right after the problem has arisen which means we are using the same ‘muddled’ mind frame.

The best solution, unless time is an issue and you are up against it in a major crisis, is to take yourself away and have some time out. Maybe have a brew in the garden, take a walk in the nearest park, chat to family, maybe even watch some TV or do something else completely different like do some meditation or yoga stretches.

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!

Procrastination is seen as a really bad thing in a world where we are meant to be super ‘productive’ but I love the old Buddhist saying ‘Don’t just do something, sit there’ which is the anti ‘Don’t just sit there. do something’ saying that I used to hear quite a bit from my mother as a teenager. 🙂

don't just do something... sit there

The other ‘modern’ Buddhist quote that I love is ‘Sit happens’ which is a play on the term ‘shit happens’. Both those Buddhist quotes are trying to promote sitting in silence and contemplating or quiet thinking.

The reason for this is that quiet thinking takes your mind away from the stress of the problem and calms down the over reactional fast thinking that happens and quietens the mind to allow those ‘ideas’ and ‘answers’ to freely float forward into your consciousness.

In the excellent book ‘Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude’ by Napoleon Hill and W. Success-Through-A-Positive-Mental-Attitude-Napoleon-Hill-W-Clement-StoneClement Stone they talk about the American philosopher, teacher, scientist and inventor Dr Elmer Gates who would lock himself away in a small soundproofed room where he would ‘sit for ideas’ as he called it with a notepad and pen.

He would sit in the quiet without any distractions and not leave until he had ‘thought up’ or had an answer ‘revealed’ to him. He had his secretary take all calls and gave her strict instructions that while he was in the ‘room’ he was not to be disturbed until he came out.

The room only had a plain table and chair and was designed specifically for sitting and thinking/listening. OK so this room and what Dr Gates did is very anti procrastination to a degree but what I wanted to get across is how he took himself off somewhere else to refresh the mind and take it away from the problems and stresses it would normally be under in the normal daily office environment.

Too Much Procrastination Is Bad

Constant procrastination is very dangerous and can rob a person of a lot of productivity and lead to failure big time but there is a big difference between a lot of procrastination or should we say a habitual procrastinator and someone who now and then finds themselves drifting onto other things when they should be getting on.

The occasional bit of procrastination is good and can be very helpful but if you find yourself procrastinating everyday and nothing is getting done then yes you have a problem and need to have a big long talk with yourself and try and figure out why you are procrastinating a lot or what is the motivator that is stopping you from just ‘getting on’ with what needs doing.

But if you do find yourself drifting off and doing something else now and then like I did before I wrote this article, do not be too hard on yourself. Instead observe your thoughts and pay attention to what you have been thinking about because you might be surprised to find that there was gold running through your mind while you were off having fun and that gold could be the answer to a problem that you have been looking for!