"Press Pause" - When Procrastination Isn't

Sometimes what we call “procrastination” really isn’t that at all. It’s something else, a completely natural part of the creative cycle: percolation.


Percolation is what happens when we are working on a project and our imaginations need a little time to work behind the scenes. We buy that time for ourselves by doing something else for a bit. Arranging flowers, folding laundry, having coffee with a friend, going shopping for groceries, going to dance class…these are some of the things I do when I don’t feel the active pull to my desk.

Because our culture tells us we should be doing things “every day,” “making progress,” and having “something to show for” our creative work, a percolating phase can send us into a panic if we don’t know how to recognize it. Why don’t I want to write/draw/paint/sing? Why am I not doing the thing I think I love to do? What is wrong with me? Why am I so lazy/distractable/weak?

Relax. You’re not. What you are is buying your creative genies some time to fiddle behind the curtains. Take a nap, play a game, go for a walk. Do something kind for yourself. Remind yourself what you love about what you’re doing (make a list!) and trust that you will come back to it when the time is right.

The funny thing is, we pretty much know when we are percolating versus procrastinating, if we stop to ask ourselves. We just forget to stop and ask because we’re so busy panicking about not working. So the next time you feel like you aren’t getting to the thing you want to be getting to, take a few breaths, close your eyes, and ask yourself: Am I percolating on a project? Do I still feel a good energy around this? OR… am I procrastinating and avoiding it because I feel some form of fear, dread, or overwhelm?

Your body knows the difference.

Sarah SadieComment