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New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education's Blog

What's the Story? 

Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.

 

I'll do it tommorrow

Exploring the relationship between procrastination and inspiration

 

 

           

What was the last thing you did to procrastinate? Mine was to begin creating a website, convincing myself it would be helpful in writing this blog. It wasn’t. Well…actually it kinda was…because it gave me the inspiration to write about procrastination!

 

 

We all procrastinate to some extent. Some of us more than others. Our kids are no different…like you need reminding right? Homework. Need I say more? Procrastination is all about avoiding something we don’t enjoy, perhaps don’t value, or which does not take priority for us right now. Well, this is how I have always thought of it, but actually what if we’re looking at it all wrong?

Susan Weiner touches on the idea of productive and unproductive procrastination, and goes on to explore some of the pros and cons associated with procrastination.

 

Pros

  • Time allows for mind-wandering. This is great for our daydreamers and creatives.
  • Mind-wandering invites divergent thinking. Gifted kids often thrive on divergent thinking and opportunities for this.
  • Divergent thinking provides incubation for creativity. This is great for enhancing problem-solving skills and also in acknowledging and valuing the identity of our natural creatives, allowing them to stretch in an area of strength.
  • The creative process allows the creator to make new realisations as they go. It becomes more about process than product, which is where a lot of learning takes place; something super important for our gifted kids
  • It's easier to get into a flow state if inspiration hits and this is what we want for all learners! (See Lock Down or Let Loose blog for more about flow)

 

Cons

  • If there is a specific time-frame, stress increases as the time frame looms closer. It is easy to appreciate that this is not good for our anxious kids.
  • If there is no specific time-frame, the activity may be put off indefinitely, particularly for our children who struggle with executive functioning.
  • There is potential to feel overwhelmed by what “could be” achieved if no limits are in place; the need to explore the big picture to get a better sense of the whole. This can be particularly so for gifted kids with perfectionistic traits.
  • Getting started is a real challenge, particularly for who see so many possibilities.

 

 

 

 

Procrastination is described by Steve Corona as “success handcuffs”. He believes that inspiration is “made-up” and that the belief that it exists only serves to inhibit the inclination to start now, feeding into procrastination. What do you think?

In a fascinating chapter called “Incubate don’t procrastinate” an alternative consideration is given to procrastination and inspiration.

 

 “The creative process can look a little odd from the outside. Sometimes it looks like we’re doing nothing at all - strolling in the park, lazing on the beach, or staring into space…yet this might be the most productive time we have spent all week, with ideas bubbling away under the surface, waiting to burst into consciousness…Yet at other times our apparent inactivity conceals and even more profound inactivity. We look as thought we’re doing nothing because we really are doing nothing”.

 

The author, Mark McGuiness, proposes that procrastination occurs prior to any effort towards a goal, while inspiration is something which comes after beginning efforts which have hit a block. A great example of this is when a gifted youngster was animatedly explaining in depth about how to do certain things in Minecraft (to me!…a total non-Minecrafter!). Mid-sentence he abruptly stopped, exclaiming his realisation that he had just unwittingly told me how to solve a problem he had hit sometime back and was very excited to have done so as he could now return to the challenge and resolve it. In this instance he had put the work in towards his goal, got stumped, taken time to step back, and had subconsciously worked it out, with the result being a strike of inspiration that left him with a resolution.

 

Here’s an example of an adult for whom this realisation is just dawning. Five years is all I’m going to say…you’ll know what I mean! It’s a bit of a slow watch but well worth it. Wait for the racoon story created from the facts on a timeline. I can just see this sparking the imagination of some of our youngsters (and their parents/whanau!) What this presentation highlights is that we can have short and mid-term goals being reached in amongst the procrastination/inspiration process, and that they can all feed into one another in the longer term as they pull together in the process of forming new ideas. Of course, we don’t always have five years…and clearly Paul Ford didn’t either, as it has caused him a lot of angst!!

 

 

I do question whether it is truly the time this process can take that is the problem, or if it is the greater societal pressure to conform to the fast pace of life which is so achievement and output focussed. Regardless, we, our kids and selves, have to live in today’s society. So here are some practical ideas for reducing procrastination that you can share with your kids and discuss over dinner. Because let’s be honest, we don’t need divergent and creative thinking when it comes to them putting their washing out or doing the dishes!!

 

 

 

 

'What's the Story?' is a new blog section which is being written for the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, with posts being added regularly. The purpose of this space is to share musings and anecdotes relating to giftedness and gifted education to provide a form of information and support for those living with and/or teaching gifted learners. Please do share them along.

 

We would love to hear from you.  Grab a virtual cuppa and share your story in the comments.

What's the Story? Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.

 

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Please note that the views expressed in these blogs are those of the author and not necessarily representative of the views of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

Image credit: Trees by RichardBH is licensed under CC BY-2.0. The image has been modified. 

 

 

 

 

I'll Do it Tomorrow

 
 
 
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