I am a long way from being the only coach who talks about getting the better of procrastination and the advantages of just flipping doing whatever it is you are putting off. Beating procrastination is still, despite all my efforts, something I do occasionally find difficult. Especially when someone links to something hilarious on social media, usually involving cats. Procrastination is not just a habit but a mindset, developed and perfected, if one can say that, over years.
But is procrastination always a bad thing?
I don’t think so.
Here are three ways procrastination can work in your favour:
1. It can help you work out what is really best for you
Sometimes we procrastinate because we don’t feel right about the thing we are putting off. If we love doing something, and feel it fits in with our values we are far more likely to put off doing it. If you find yourself procrastinating on a specific thing look at the whys behind it. Why does it need to be done? Why are you putting it off? You might find that the first why isn’t compelling enough to get it done. You might find that the second why is a good reason for it not to get done.
At least you will be able to answer if doing whatever it is is really the best thing for you. If so you can use the why as the driving purpose behind getting it done, and then just flipping do it. If it isn’t really worth doing after all, you can strike it off the to do list. It may have seemed important when you added it to the list, but our priorities change, and if you can do without, do without, and move on to the next thing.
2. Procrastination can up your productivity
What? How? Where do I sign up?
If you save the trickiest things til last you might find yourself whizzing through the smaller or more pleasant tasks on your to do list and actually getting an awful lot done. You wouldn’t believe how much work stuff I can get done when I am putting off a tricky phone call or even some housework. The problem isn’t solved – whatever it is still needs to be done, of course. But at least you won’t have the feeling, the awful nagging guilty feeling, that you have done nothing and not been productive at all.
3. Better decision making
There is an argument that the best decisions are taken on the spur of the moment. This is used especially in marketing. That if you think too long about a purchase you won’t buy whatever it is that is being sold to you. But surely in this case the best decision for an impulse buy is best for the seller, not necessarily the buyer.
Many of my clients have come to a coaching session saying they have been mulling over a decision for a long time and can’t work out what to do. By the end of the session they have decided. In fact, the procrastination around the decision has been hiding all that time that they have already made the decision, they know what they have to do, they just need to give themselves permission to do it.
I personally believe, however urgent a decision, that we should take and be allowed to take our time. But a reasonable amount of time. Not too much otherwise you can find yourself batting back and forth for weeks or months. Which is a waste of time and also very frustrating. But if you find yourself not being able to decide, if you are procrastinating, come back to the why. What is stopping you? Listen to your instinct and your gut, and work back from that. It is OK not to want to rush into the wrong decision. Just give yourself a reasonable deadline by which to make that decision, then sit down and work through it, on your own or with someone else.
So, is procrastination always a bad thing? Even though I spend a lot of time helping clients to beat procrastination, I really do believe there are times when procrastination can be the right thing for you at that time.
Have a look at where you are procrastinating, look at the why, think about the outcome if you do whatever it is or if you don’t. I would love to know your thoughts on this.
Come and discuss procrastination and lots more in my closed Facebook group, The Mindset Hub.