Procrastination…. that nasty, icky thing that gets in your way and stops you from ‘motoring ahead’ and doing all of the things that you know you should be doing.
For years I’ve been telling myself (and my clients) that procrastination is a bad thing.
I’ve come up with all sorts of strategies to banish procrastination. The strategies allow me escape the lure of the cat videos and instead to rattle through my to do list, ticking each item off with a satisfied flourish of my (coloured gel) pen.
But over the past few months I’ve started to wonder if I’ve been getting it wrong all these years.
Maybe….just maybe… procrastination can be a good thing after all.
Once I had an inkling that procrastination could actually help not hinder us I did a bit of research, only to discover that I was not the first person to discover this startling revelation (damn it!).
Scientists have broken procrastination down into two categories – passive and active.
Passive procrastination is when you KNOW you should do something like tidying your house or making a phone call but you stay on the couch and take no action. This is not the good kind of procrastination.
If you are suffering from passive procrastination then consider this your (loving) kick up the backside to get up and get on with whatever it is that you need to do.
On the other hand active procrastination is when you put off doing something like tidying your house or making a phone call because you are doing something more useful and valuable instead e.g. getting groceries for a sick neighbour.
Here is my rather inexpertly drawn, stick figure lady to illustrate what I mean:
Unwittingly, over the past few months I have been engaged in active procrastination.
I started the year (as I do every year) with a list of goals and objectives for my business. I had projects to work on and self imposed deadlines to meet. I was going to be busy, busy, busy…….
Instead, through a series of events outside of my control, the majority of my working hours in the first six weeks of the year were wiped out.
Through another series of bizarre events I ended up enrolling in a Mindfulness course and have spent the last couple of months fully immersed, learning about and discovering the simple yet unbelievably sensible tenets of living mindfully.
Business wise I have done the bare minimum to keep the show on the road.
Client commitments were being kept but that list of goals and objectives that I had….they were pushed to the bottom of the priority list. I knew that I was procrastinating. I knew that I wasn’t going to hit my targets if I didn’t pull my finger out and ‘crack on’ with the work that had to be done.
But for the first time (possibly ever) I did not feel the ‘need’ to be busy all of the time. I knew that I was procrastinating but it felt OK, in fact it felt more than OK, it felt like exactly the right thing to do. I now know that I had engaged in active procrastination because rather than working through my ‘to do’ list I was doing something much more important.
I was giving myself the time and space that I needed to decide whether those goals and objectives and that ‘to do’ list was actually what I truly wanted to be doing.
It gave me the ability to step back and objectively look at where my life and business were going and decide if that is really where I wanted to go.
And while the overacheiving perfectionist in me got frustrated by the lack of ‘progress’ that I was making, the ‘newly enlightened’ me, fresh from my eight weeks of mindfulness training, acknowledged that I was exactly where I needed to be.
And it was time to stop ‘doing’ so much and spend more time ‘being’.
That period of procrastination has opened my eyes and shown me how I can better serve my clients and deliver even more value.
So the next stage of the journey begins. I would love to have it all mapped out and tell you exactly what that shift in direction will look like. Right now, I have an overall direction but none of the details. But I can tell you that I am approaching it with a huge amount of curiosity and excitement!
If you would like to keep in contact and find out more as the road ahead unravels then please enter your details below. I promise it’s going to be a lot of fun and might just shift how you think about your business.