It’s the end of the academic year here in Australia and a lot of people are in the final stages of teaching, marking and trying to finish their thesis. I understand.
At a workshop the other day, as they always do, someone asked about how to get over ‘procrastination’. And as I always do, I asked whether what they were experiencing was procrastination, or something else. Any delay, resistance or pause in the productivity machine is labelled as ‘procrastination’ and it often isn’t. But it can be hard to tell, when all you know is that you sat down to work and couldn’t get started.
And I gave this tiny nugget of advice, and I think it’s worth sharing with you too.
Are you procrastinating, or do you need a nap?
If you sit at your desk, and instead of getting started on your writing you hear yourself say something like ‘ugh, I can’t even today, I’m sooooo tired’, then try this experiment.
Set your pomodoro timer to 25 minutes. Arrange yourself comfortably on the floor or a sofa, and close your eyes. Breathe gently and softly. You may drift off, or you may just have a nice rest for your eyes and brain.
When the alarm goes off, get up, set your timer for 5 minutes. Have some water, a snack and maybe some caffeine. (Some people suggest having the caffeine before the nap to time the chemical release of caffeine perfectly. For me, the mental impact of caffeine is pretty strong and immediate, so this is my preferred timing!)
Start the next pomodoro at your desk. Look at your document. Do you feel your mind is somehow clearer, you have more energy, you can string together a few words? Great! Do that! Also, your problem is tiredness and you should plan in some rest and relaxation in the near future. Try a critical distance break!
Perhaps you sit down and your desk and nothing has improved. You feel sick, or resentful, or bored. Then your problem might be procrastination, or something else. If it’s mild, a post like ‘But what if I don’t wanna?’ or ‘Procrastination is not your fault‘ might help. If it’s more significant, talking to a counsellor at your university can help you unpack what is going on for you.
This advice made people laugh in the workshop, but it also made people think, and gave them absolute permission to have a nap. Naps are great for productivity, so even if this isn’t you and you’d like a bit of shut-eye, please go ahead!