The power of procrastination

When your greatest superpower is doing nothing

To say I’m lacking in motivation at the moment would be an understatement. I’m not sure if it’s the relaxed COVID regulations, the sunny weather, the anniversary of my mam’s passing last week, or a combination of all of these things that are robbing me of my usual passion for my work - but concentrating is harder than ever right now.

I really love my job, but sometimes no matter how much you love what you do, you can’t be functioning at 100 per cent all the time. Over the last year or so, I’m sure we’ve all been through periods of low motivation. That could be a few days, weeks or even months where dragging yourself to your desk, opening your emails and actually getting down to work seems like the hardest thing ever - and if you’re anything like me then you’ll do just about anything to dodge the responsibility.

Procrastination: every freelancer’s best friend

With just about every business influencer dishing advice on how to improve focus and get more out of your day, procrastination is often positioned as the antithesis to productivity. But what about if procrastination is a vital part of the creative process?

When I worked in an office, I used to keep my procrastination habits on the down-low. A sneaky Twitter scroll or true-crime podcast kept me going through the misery of corporate life. I remember looking around and see other people working away without any distraction. No headphones, no social media, no YouTube videos playing in the background… just working solidly for eight hours a day 🤯

So, if I’m still able to deliver the work on time and to a high standard, why does it matter if I was listening to a podcast at the same time or played a cheeky game of chess with a random person in Poland? I don't think it does. In fact, I think procrastination is critical to promoting a healthy relationship with work.

Focusing when you have ADD

Since Craig’s ADD diagnosis, I’ve learned even more about the power of procrastination. For years, he was a square peg trying to fit into a circle hole. Working in a traditional office environment, unable to focus longer than a few seconds on any given task, made even harder by the pressure of impending deadlines, multiple task management and constant meetings that could have been an email.

Last year, I was watching a video by one of my favourite YouTubers who was diagnosed with ADHD at 30, despite spending most of her adult life thinking she had a mood disorder. It was all too familiar to us, so Craig went to the doctors to ask about ADHD assessment.

One year later, he was (unsurprisingly) diagnosed with ADD.

Craig is great at his job - I wouldn't have shared my business with him if I didn't think so! He comes up with fantastic creative ideas on the fly, he works well under pressure, and he never misses a deadline… yet if you were to watch him work, you’d think he was lazy. He makes me look like I don’t know how to procrastinate. Focusing when you have ADD is a totally different animal.

I think it all comes down to the fact that everyone works differently, yet the corporate world still defines one way of working as 'the best.’

For example, I prefer to work from home, while others are at the most productive when at the office. The pandemic has definitely taught businesses that everyone works in their own way. So I do hope as workers return to the office, businesses will start to realise that there is no single way to work.

Of course, you can try and make everyone work the same but, ultimately, we do our best work when we're happy. And if we're not happy working from home, or in an office, or by ourselves… then how can we be expected to be productive? Not to mention the long-term mental health impact of having to work in a way that goes against the way your brain works.

So, what is your ideal way to work? For me, it’s listening to a podcast or music while focusing on one task at a time, with regular breaks for cups of tea and dog walks.

For Craig, it's working on ten tasks at once, while watching a YouTube video and playing a game of chess - all at the same time. I like early starts and early finishes, while Craig takes an hour to get into the mindset of work. We're couldn't be more different yet we still got the work done, so what does it matter?

Are you a procrastinator or an unshakeable force of focus? Let me know on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this newsletter for a chat in confidence.

📚 Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

The first instalment of this sci-fi trilogy tells of the day humans find parts of a huge robot alien underground that predates civilisation on this planet. Anything more I could say would be a spoiler, so if you like dystopian sci-fi and mystery then you’re going to love this. I’ve already started the second book and it’s on par with the epic twists and turns of the first.

🏃‍♂️ While I‘ve been struggling to find the motivation to work, I’ve definitely had the drive to exercise. I’ve taken my enjoyment of running to the next level and joined the local gym, as my mission to lose the lockdown pounds continues.

☀🍺 The beer gardens are back open! We had a lush visit to Jesmond Beach Box with friends on Saturday - would highly recommend booking up if you’re local. It’s dog and family-friendly and the food and drinks are awesome, couldn’t recommend it enough.

🎧 Podcast #10: Talking about ageism in the workplace, digital confidence and IT bullying with Kate Watson.

In this week's episode, we are chatting about how we ended up running a business together. We throwback to when we first met fresh out of uni working in a local bar, how we entered similar industries and what pushed Craig to take the leap into self-employment with me.

You can listen to the podcast here, or alternatively, you can watch this episode on YouTube:

That’s all from me this week! See you next Wednesday for more musings about mental health, freelancing and work culture.

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

14 April: How to sell without feeling icky

7 April: Am I a bad feminist for wanting to lose weight?

31 March: The rescue dogs that rescued us

24 March: Feelings are meant to be felt

17 March: I sent a newsletter every week for a year

10 March: I’m triggered

3 March: Balancing creativity and getting paid

24 February: The day I lost a client

17 February: How to talk to someone who is struggling

10 February: Learning to say no and other lessons from two years of self-employment

3 February: Learning to find joy in the mundane