One of my favorite TED talks is called Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.
The TED talk has slightly more views (19 million) than my video (34 thousand), but who’s counting?
The point is…procrastination is a popular topic.
Why? Because we all do it. And, most of us feel guilty about it!
I was catching up with a former client the other day. She confessed, with shame in her voice, that the day before, she had procrastinated packing for a trip. She’d read a smutty vampire novel instead.
After discussing our favorite smutty vampire novels for a few minutes, we got back on topic.
Note: The irony of that last sentence is not lost on me.
Me: “So, what happened? Did you get packed for the trip?”
Her: “Well, yes, I did eventually.”
Me: “Did you forget to pick up your kids at school, fail to finish your work, cause havoc for your team or family, or neglect to do anything important?”
Me: “Why are you so worried about this then?”
She thought that procrastination was a universally bad thing.
There’s a philosophical thought experiment that starts with this question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Here’s a productivity thought experiment: “If an episode of procrastination has no negative impact on you or anyone else, is it procrastination?”
And, here’s another thought…
Nowadays, “self-care” is all the rage. We are supposed to love our bodies, pay attention to our needs, and allocate time to do things we love. Blah, blah, blah.
Okay, so all those blahs aren’t meant to diminish the need for self-care. It’s just a hard thing to do, right?
What does procrastination have to do with self-care?
When planning my tasks, I have to think of myself as a group of people: Today-Melissa, Tomorrow-Melissa, Saturday-Melissa, September-25-Melissa, etc.
Yes, there may be a psychological diagnosis in my future, but that’s for 2028-Melissa to deal with.
When I procrastinate, I am being unkind to Tomorrow-Melissa. Today-Melissa is thumbing her nose at Tomorrow-Melissa and perhaps saying something like “Na-na-na, boo boo. Stick your head in…” Well, you get the drift.
For those of you who need more help with “the drift” here are some examples:
Today-Melissa doing sufficient planning so that she can get a massage without making Tomorrow-Melissa’s day negate all benefits of said massage…
This is self-care.
Today-Melissa deciding that Tomorrow-Melissa has sufficient flexibility in her morning to write a blog post and assigning that task to Tomorrow-Melissa…
Today-Melissa failing to assess Tomorrow-Melissa’s schedule and playing solitaire for three hours instead of writing the blog post…
Deferring tasks until later is not always procrastination. Sometimes the tasks are lower-priority items that won’t suffer from deferral.
If Today-Self and Tomorrow-Self are managing their time and tasks well, very few of these deferred tasks cause problems.
So, here’s the point.
I doubt any of us will stop procrastinating completely. It’s just too much fun.
However, if we are systematic with task management, which I teach my coaching clients BY THE WAY, procrastination doesn’t really matter.
For productive people, procrastination might even start to resemble self-care.
Are you ready to form productive habits that will change your work and life?
Read my eBook Establish Rituals…you deserve a few minutes of control.
Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-417-2505. Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.