All its life procrastination has been given a mostly bad rap. Lazy. Uncommitted. Disorganized. And for sure, the shoe often fits.
But what if what we’ve been taught about procrastination is sometimes wrong? That maybe delaying a decision or project CAN be a good thing? That procrastination is our body’s way of telling us to take a pause. To slow down. To consider other options.
I myself have a complicated relationship with procrastination. I’m what you might call a situational procrastinator. Give me a to-do list of small tasks or projects and I power through like the Type-A perfectionist I am.
Big projects or decisions? Ones that REALLY matter? You know, things like business plans, large presentations, material selections for a house project—I almost always leave those to the last minute.
For years, I chalked it up to the excuse that I work better under pressure. And, actually, I do. But the more I embrace my inner procrastinator, the more I notice a few things about her that are actually good. And useful. And productive.
As a recovering multitasker, nothing forces my attention like being behind on a deadline. Given too much time, I’ll over-think, over-research, over-Google to the point of paralyzation. Leaving big tasks to the last minute forces me to focus all my attention and to truly be in the flow with the work.
Nothing cuts through the clutter of a project like being short on time. Overcomplicated nice-to-haves are off the table. For me, I’ve found that doing the unconscious mind work on a project long before I sit down to do the actual work makes me more effective with my time. Things like planning an article to write before I actually sit down to write ensures the time I do spend writing is productive. Putting off to tomorrow what could be done today can help avoid unnecessary work.
In some instances, delaying a decision can work to your advantage. Giving yourself time to consider many options, checking in with your gut or trusted advisors, and really getting comfortable with a decision is a great thing. I often find when I’m delaying a decision or a project, it’s because I’m not truly aligned on the purpose or outcome I’m seeking. Building in a little breathing room helps bring clarity and confidence to the decision when it’s made.
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. And nothing breaks a good perfectionist habit like being crunched on time. Somehow, knowing you won’t be able to do your BEST work due to lack of time relaxes the standard and just gets the work done. And often done is better than perfect (and never started.)
Let’s celebrate these small lessons our habit brings us.
Let’s get curious about WHY we put off actions and decisions.
Let’s cut ourselves some slack on getting everything done all the time.
Let’s make progress, let’s move forward, let’s celebrate getting things done. Sometimes even on time.
Jill Elliott is an artist, wallpaper designer and writer constantly seeking inspiration and balance. You can find Jill’s wallpaper and original art at Color Kind Studio. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her daughter and puppy.
BY Jill Elliott - January 20, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.