WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
You should know that I began this blog awhile ago. Two weeks to be exact. Yes, two weeks. I even created a video about it.
No, the irony isn’t lost on me. But it illustrates the point well, doesn’t it? There are times when we all procrastinate. So now it’s a matter of figuring out why and deciding…is putting things off problematic, or purposeful?
I finally began writing this post – that I’d had the idea to write but hadn’t started – after spending the afternoon rearranging my office. Yes, rearranging my entire office! I don’t mean the “Let’s see if this picture looks better here” kind of arranging. I mean the furniture-moving, sweat-inducing, “Let’s change it all!” kind of reorganizing. It’s the reorganizing that you commit to once you begin, so there was no chance I was going to be done in a few minutes.
I had a blog post I needed to write and the idea of it too, but as I sat at my desk, I was compelled to organize instead.
I kept trying to type, and instead kept noticing the area with the supplies and how it needed to be cleared. I would stare at my screen and think how my video set-up location needed to change and how my dry erase boards were in the wrong location.
Now, I’ll grant you that it needed it. I had just recently cleared out an underutilized space in our home dedicated to Positively Productive Systems LLC and its ever-growing projects and I was inspired to use Feng Shui principles to arrange it, so I wanted to complete that makeover.
I’ll be the first to encourage having your own dedicated work space. It’s one of the best productivity tips I can offer and a big part of what I do with clients.
When your space is out of sorts, so is your mind. And vice versa.
There is a critical link between the two and it’s important to acknowledge it as well as do something about it. It’s precisely why I do what I do, combining professional organizing with productivity coaching. They are all interconnected and reflect each other. My office definitely needed to be set up properly and to inspire me.
BUT NOW? REALLY?
So in truth I was still procrastinating. I’m not going to defend myself. But it has me wondering, can procrastinating be good?
I know many people who would say yes, anecdotally at least.
My husband is famous for putting something off long enough that the parameters change and it’s no longer needed. If he reads this, I want him to know it’s an art form, how he does this! Truly. So I know he’d vote for positive procrastination. But I think there are other positive aspects to it as well IF you work with it properly.
While considering the various aspects of procrastination, I perused the interwebs and found this great article that identifies this very concept. I was thinking it in terms of positive procrastination, but the term “structured” procrastination is used by Standford philosopher, John Perry. The idea is that when we put something off, we rarely do absolutely nothing in its stead. I wonder, did he have this idea before Netflix? Just sayin.
HOW OTHER THINGS GET DONE
So besides the idea that you’ve exchanged one task for another and potentially completed other projects that needed to be done (seriously, how else would the house get clean?)… are there other benefits to procrastination?
I say yes.
I don’t mean there are a ton and that I’m suggesting you procrastinate ON purpose, but rather that there maybe a purpose to it. I think when you find yourself procrastinating, it may provide a good time to review the situation and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel obligated to do this? Ask yourself if this is something you think you “should” be doing, and is there a legitimate reason? Ah, there’s that “should” word. It gets you into trouble every time. So much so I created an inspiration list called “Stop Saying Should: Seven Sneaky Ways We Sabotage Our Happiness and Productivity” Perhaps this is not something you really need to do after all.
- Is there an emotional block? Consider if there is either an obvious issue (such as decluttering the objects of a loved one) or a less obvious issue (e.g., a project signifies the end of a phase in life)
- Are you sure you know what’s involved? Whether this is a task you’ve done before or it isn’t one of your favorite things to do, you might be apt to overestimate the length of time it will take or how difficult it will be.
POSITIVELY PUSH FORWARD
What to do when you’ve considered these things but you still need to get a task done and you’re struggling with it?
Your motivation is a big consideration, but there are three techniques that can create momentum and work with you:
- Use a timer to see how long it’s really taking and challenge yourself to do it faster. Today I was dreading a very messy kitchen and I got it to close to 75% in a mere 16 minutes! I sometimes forget just how quickly I can get something done.
- Try doing it first thing in the morning and/or when you energy is highest. Take care of the less desirable things first and set yourself up for success the rest of the day.
- Create a carrot-and-stick approach with yourself where you have a reward system. For example, do that thing you must do and then you get to watch an episode of your favorite program. It’s not commonly suggested, but the best way to create a good habit is to trigger it with a reward after.
Procrastination is natural and universal. We all do it to some extent, but the key is to keep it from undermining your life. If you keep it limited and balance out your tasks (exchanging) you can make it work.
Start with awareness and find your groove.
Do you know someone who could use this encouragement? Please share this article and at least they’ll read something productive while procrastinating their next task! Comment below if procrastination is your thing, or if you have advice to share! This is always a good discussion.