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When procrastination is a good thing...

Sheila Chandra - Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Procrastination can be a good thing when it helps you figure out what is really important to you. Find out how to make your procrastinating behaviours work for you.

Procrastination can give you clues to what motivates you

Procrastination isn't usually seen as a good thing. But it does indeed have a good side. It can help you figure out a better way to do things. There is often a good reason behind your inaction and excuses. Repeated procrastination over certain tasks can reveal what is truly important to you. You can use your procrastination patterns over time to gain a huge amount of insight as to what you hate doing or don’t feel you’ve mastered. It can point you in the right direction by making you look at why that wrong direction is, in fact, wrong for you. Next time you experience procrastination - listen carefully for clues to your issues.

Procrastination can show you what scares you

If you’re a writer, painter or songwriter for instance who finds they have to do every single household task possible before they begin – you have a clean house and a creative problem. Creative work can be scary. The blank page seems to gaze back and declare you inadequate.

In that situation a routine can help. A set of rituals you do before you sit down to work. Some writers sharpen a number of pencils. Some have a cup of coffee on the deck. Some people go for a walk to stimulate their minds while they work on the creative ‘problem’ in hand. Some like to start with something easy and work up to the hard problems. Having a ritual will train your mind to prepare for hard creative work. But you must bring your mind to the ‘coal face’ and make it work – even if only for 30 minutes at a time. It needs to be disciplined and trained to concentrate on the scary creative stuff if you want to see good results.

Sometimes you just need permission to work on the important stuff

I've had clients who didn't recognise the importance of the creative work - and spent their time hustling and procrastinating because the hustling was about getting jobs or clients. Sometimes we need to be given permission to work on what our instincts tell us to. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the creative work IS the important stuff!

Procrastination can highlight the things you aren’t good at

Are there things you don't feel confident doing? Procrastination can give you an opportunity to strengthen your skills. Or, maybe it’s a good time to seek professional help? For example, if you are taking months to repair some clothes - then it’s worth paying someone else to fix them and save yourself time, energy and stress. Is there too much on your plate? Are you overloaded with tasks? Are you terrible at cold calling? Can you get someone to do it for you? Do you need to update your goals? Perhaps you need to remove some of your goals? Consider reviewing them at a later date. You can gather some really good information by simply by asking yourself what is lurking behind your procrastination.

Procrastination can help you to tighten up your routines

Maybe there are certain times throughout the day when you tend to drag your feet and experience your worst periods of procrastination. Willpower isn’t necessarily the problem. Look at it another way. It could just signal a need to review your daily routines. What if you did the difficult tasks in the morning and left the easier ones for the afternoon? How does that feel? How about taking care of the more energetic tasks while you still have some energy left i.e. before the mid-afternoon slump?

Small changes can make a big difference. Do you suffer more from procrastination when doing essential tasks (like tax returns & paying bills)? This may indicate that you just need a strong incentive to do it. It’s a smart strategy to reward or bribe yourself in order to complete a task. In fact, it’s good to know exactly what it takes for you to get something done – whether working on it in your favourite coffee shop, or the prospect of a walk in the woods afterwards. Learn what inspires and motivates you and use it your advantage.

Procrastination is an excellent teacher

Procrastination will continue to show up if you don't break the pattern. Think of it as being like a monster. It grows in strength each time you “feed” it with more procrastination. This is good because it eventually forces you to get specific about what the issue is. If a task seems impossible and overwhelming, then you can divide it into smaller parts – or find some confidence in doing the easier parts of it first. If you are allowing yourself to become distracted, then you need to set reasonable deadlines. In short, you can use procrastination to teach you how to get the best out of yourself.  

What you’re calling procrastination can sometimes mask a genuine reason to delay

Sometimes procrastination creeps in because you genuinely need more time to complete a task such as important decisions will require that you at least sleep on them before answering. Or, sometimes, more information is needed before you can proceed. And some situations are quite simply out of your control which can cause you to feel helpless or to panic and jump to a negative conclusion about your abilities. Don't be quick to get self-critical. Try to be dispassionate. Just five minutes of objectivity may give you an important perspective you hadn’t considered before.

If you’d like tailor-made help from a creative expert to tackle your issues with procrastination, then contact me for artist coaching and mentoring. Take me up on a free 30 minute consultation at sheila@sheilachandra.com to find out if I’m the right artist coach for you!

 

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