The Art of Procrastinating

Do you procrastinate? If you answered “No, never”, I seriously want to meet you, buy you dinner, maybe even marry you! If you answered “Is the Pope a Catholic?” then read on, I have good news for you. “Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” Unknown

There are many useful tips and techniques for overcoming our tendency to procrastinate. Maybe we will look at some in a future newsletter feature article. Let’s, just for now, consider how we might be able to take this “weakness” of a tendency to procrastinate and explore how we can use it to our advantage; turn it into a “strength.”

Last week I had a boring task that I did not feel inspired to get on with. I really needed to re-organise the filing system on my laptop and archive or delete a bunch of data. I know myself well enough that I could easily imagine getting to the end of the day having achieved very little of value, feeling guilty and frustrated.

So, I decided to “Give myself Permission to Procrastinate” thereby no longer risking the feelings of guilt and frustration

I developed some “Conditions” for this permission. I could procrastinate for as long as I liked but while I was procrastinating I was only allowed to spend my time on a specific list of activities and tasks. This list did NOT include reading and reminiscing over old information. I wanted a long list of useful things to do, because I understand that I work best when I have lots to do.

“It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.” Earl of Chesterfiled

To create this list I went through my to-do-list and selected all the other small but valuable tasks that have been on the list for several days (or weeks or months!), all the “little things” that were building up. The list included:

File receipts and update my profit and loss spreadsheet; Stock up on printer paper and printer cartridges; Source, locate, or buy a cable to connect the camera to the computer to replace one that has “gone missing in action”; Check the oil, brake fluid, and water in the car; Update mailing lists; Call Telstra; Complete working with Children Check application; etc.. dull, reasonable mindless tasks, but nevertheless useful

I sat down to work on my main task, sorting out my laptop filing system. When I started to procrastinate I immediately chose a task from my list and worked on it until it was completed. I then went back to my main task, and so the day continued.

It worked! I ended the day feeling efficient, effective and energized. I also made reasonable inroads into re-organising my laptop.

As Robert Benchley said “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment”

With love and thanks also to my dad who taught me “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can put off till next week”

Your thoughts?