Procrastination vs prioritisation

I can count on my hands the number of times that I’ve felt good about procrastinating.

Scratch that. I can count without my hands the number of times that I’ve felt good about that. It is precisely zero. Why is it that we feel inherently bad about ourselves when we procrastinate? Is procrastinating always a bad thing?

To answer that, I think we need to define a few key terms and understand whether we really are procrastinating all the time, or whether it’s something else entirely.

(If you’ve read the title, you’ll already know what I’m getting at).

Definitions

Procrastination is all about doing one thing when you should be doing something else. It’s about that guilty pang you get in the bottom of your stomach that tells you that you’re not doing what your brain knows you should be doing. It’s telling you to stop playing that video game and to start cleaning your room, or the shed, or the whole darn house. You just don’t want to clean when you could be playing games, but you know that it needs to be done.

I reckon that we feel that feeling a whole lot less than we might think. There’s another word that describes what we usually do with our time, and it’s called prioritisation. Prioritisation is where we choose, intentionally, how to spend our time. I am prioritising making dinner over cleaning the house because that is how I want to spend my time. Eating is a priority to me; cleaning is not – which should be evident considering the robotic purchase I made last year.

Now that we’ve defined both words, let’s look at how we can use them to clear our headspace and improve our wellbeing, without feeling guilty all the time when we’re not doing what our brains think we should be doing.

Procrastination is bad

Yes, but actually no. All of us want to get more done, which is why we feel guilty when we procrastinate important tasks. You’re putting it off, even though you know you shouldn’t. However, sometimes you need this. For the sake of your health, sometimes you need to put things off and do what you’d rather do instead.

It’s not always bad to procrastinate. But it is always bad if procrastinating starts to affect your health, your life, or anything in between.

Prioritisation is good

Yes, and still yes. We make, shift and change priorities every day without giving it a second thought. Prioritisation is especially important when it comes to personal relationships. How many times have you heard that cliched line in a rom-com, where the heartthrob can’t make enough time for our protagonist because they’re too busy with work/college/any other commitment?

No? Just me?

Regardless, if you have commitments that you want to stay committed to, you will make time for them. You will prioritise. You will say that the gym can wait tonight, that you’ll get caught up on exercise tomorrow, because you want to hang out and play pool with your friends tonight. You are not procrastinating. You are prioritising socialising over exercising.

And isn’t that the healthiest choice you can make? (Disclaimer: not a doctor)

So which is best? Procrastination or prioritisation?! Help!

‘I’m confused!!’ And so you should be. There is no one size fits all for this question. I’d say that your life is made up of a series of priorities, and that you make sacrifices in lieu of certain things every single day.

That’s not to say that you should never procrastinate. Obviously. We’re only human: these things happen. If you want to put something off until tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever, then that is your call. As long as these decisions don’t interfere with your personal or professional lives, I’d say you’ll be just about fine.

Are you Team Procrastinate or Prioritise? Let me know in the comments below.


While you’re here, you might also like…

How to stay mentally well as a teacher

Getting out of a rut, the easy way

Narrowing down a niche for your new blog

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