Purposeful Procrastination

Photo credit  Steamboat Times

Photo credit Steamboat Times

There’s a project I really want to tackle but I’ve been putting it off for the past few days. This morning I asked myself why. Quickly, the answer became obvious: I hadn’t thought through the project. In particular, I didn’t have answers to three key questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?

Once I realized what was in the way, I was easily able to gain clarity about those questions. Now, it’s just a matter of implementing. I know what my next action is, and the actions that will follow. I have a project plan!

Have I discovered a magic formula for eliminating procrastination? Possibly. But first I applied the thinking to a couple of other projects on my to do list.

When I thought through my intent to organize my file drawers, I realized lack of motivation is in the way. My files are workable, I can access what I need and I’m not wasting a lot of time trying to find things. Sure, they could be beautifully labeled and completely up to date but how obsessive do I really want to be? If I successfully tackled this project, what would it get me? Maybe some minor time saving and frustration reduction. Is it worth the effort? Definitely not today but maybe soon.

Sorting through my father’s possessions stored in the attic yielded a different insight. Right now, it’s too cold up there to take this on. But it’s been on my to do list since April. Other obstacles are confusion about what to keep and what to throw away. Underneath that is sadness and grief that he’s no longer alive.  I’m just not ready to tackle this project and I procrastinated to give me an excuse to let it go until spring.

In each case, what seems to work for me is to identify what stands between the present moment and implementation.  And the answer(s) provide a useful guide to the actions that might follow. Three different projects, three different answers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get started on my first project.