Reflection not Procrastination

Is this a scenario you recognise? When faced with a task of significant importance or having trouble putting pen to paper, the most menial tasks or distracting activities are suddenly intensely appealing – anything which puts off the dread moment when you actually have to bite the bullet and START.


There’s a word I have come to recognise as my mortal enemy in situations like this – PROCRASTINATION – but it seems I could be wrong. For the wordsmiths amongst you, its origins offer us a fascinating insight into its current use. Now defined as postponing or delaying, its Latin root gives us “Belonging to the morrow”. How interesting that a word that is currently often used in a derogatory way could actually be giving us some very sound advice and telling us to take time for reflection before we embark on a particular course of action. I think that makes me feel a bit better - I’m not really putting things off, I am reflecting!

The academics have been telling us for a while that professionals gain the most benefit from their professional development activities if, as reflective practitioners, they take the time to consider what the benefits of their activities are and this, in turn, can collectively enhance the overall understanding of that activity for the profession as a whole. This is a refreshing contrast to those who believe that CPD (continuing professional development) is just about turning up.


By the same logic, professional associations and membership organisations should also benefit from reflective activity, considering current outcomes and not merely accepting the status quo as immutable. In the current economic climate when every organisation must consider whether it is making best use of its resources, hitting the pause button and taking some time to reflect on current activities and commitments ought be extremely beneficial.


The list of what needs to be done is usually enormous but can they be sure that they are the right activities? Success in this climate is laudable but do they have a defined strategy and are they adhering to it or taking the pragmatic or easy route? Where does ‘do the right thing’ fit into the discussion? Are they doing enough to support professionalism for their members? Do they know what that should be? If not, why not?


My sympathies are with the senior managers who sometimes feel the need to just step off the merry-go-round for a moment, to take a deep breath and just check everything is OK. Find answers to the critical issues of not wasting money or resources but also find a way to avoid the wasted energy of continually fighting rearguard actions with staff or volunteers who may see or wish to do things differently. Wouldn’t it be good to get everyone agreed on what should be done, plan how it is to be achieved then set the plan in motion? Sort out today and be sure that tomorrow is as good as you would like it to be. Feels like Nirvana to me!