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Archive for September 20th, 2017

Making Procrastination Work FOR You

Positive procrastination

Be honest: how often do you find yourself with too much to-do list at the end of your day? I think this happens to a lot of us. And, according to Jon Acuff, author of Finish, it’s one of the things that keeps us stuck, prevents us from finishing the important things – large and small – in life. We started, but we didn’t get it done – on time, perfectly, as well as our sister-in-law would do it – so we quit entirely. Throw in the towel. Well, I’ve failed again. Why even keep going?

Just in case you’re wondering – this is a bald-faced lie your ego tells you to keep you safely inside your comfort zone. Because guess what – growing is uncomfortable. Progress is challenging. Finishing stretches muscles we may not have used in a long time. And our ego is right there to reassure us that giving up this time is OK because we really didn’t want to write that book, get that speaking gig, or plant that garden anyway. We can always get overpriced organic food at the store.

In Finish, Acuff recommends making procrastination our friend. If your goal is to finish your novel by the end of the year, you’re probably going to have to give up – or put off – some stuff that you’ve been doing while you’ve been not writing your novel. They could be smallish things – like turning the TV off – or they could be bigger things like stepping back from your leadership role – or membership in – a favorite group or club.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never do these things again, just that you’re not doing them – or as much off them – right now.

Acuff’s term is bombing some things to make way for other things. I think of it as leveraging procrastination as a tool for the good! Here’s an example. Our car was a mess. Almost-rainstorms in Phoenix create a muddy muck on the exterior of any car not garaged when the mist that spits from the sky is followed by a fine dusting of desert sand. Bonus design points when your cat walks all over the car leaving a mad paw-print motif.

catprints on car

I asked my husband to take responsibility for getting the car cleaned and replacing the windshield wipers today. He told me last night that that sounded like a reasonable one-day to-do list. Then he woke up this morning not feeling well. So I offered to go get him some grapefruit juice and chicken noodle soup. It just so happens that the auto parts store and the carwash are on the way to the grocery store. So I stopped, thinking, Since John’s not going to get this done today and I’m right here, I may as well just do it myself. Mind you, the whole reason I asked him to do these chores was to take some of the load off of my plate so I could get other things done.

This is a scenario where employing procrastination would have really worked in my favor. Could I live one more day with a dirty car? Of course! Did the windshield wipers need to be replaced today? As far as I’m aware, we’re not due a torrential monsoon storm tonight – so, no. The wipers weren’t an emergency. Oh – and while I was at the carwash, I decided to vacuum out the back because I was already at the carwash, right?

I think there’s a fine line between overcoming procrastination of the lazy, “I’ll just do it tomorrow” variety – and knowing when the thing you’re taking time to do today is actually a distraction or hindrance to your progress and process and would better be put off till another day or time.

How can/do you use procrastination as a tool for the good in your life? We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

Laura

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