Productive Procrastination?!

I don’t know about you, but I have to plead very guilty to the charge of procrastination.  That old quote, “never put off until tomorrow what can get done today,” has taken a new form in my life.  I may not say it verbally, and it’s generally not even a conscious thought but often I act more like, “why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?”

With summer upon us my to-do list has doubled.  I have clothes to be packed in addition to laundered, BBQs needing side dishes, wedding presents to be wrapped and swim suits to be hung up to dry.  It almost feels overwhelming, but in my time since discovering the skill of productive procrastination it seems like my home and family are a well oiled machine.

For those of you who don’t know, productive procrastination is by definition “doing things to keep busy while avoiding what needs to be done.”  Students and parents alike are pros at productive procrastination, the room may be dusted and the laundry ironed but what needed to be done in that hour was actually an essay on our founding fathers (plus, we generally don’t iron jeans).  What I have begun to do is actually add things to my to-do list.  Here is an example with things added in italics:
  • Vacuum
  • Make Gift for Baby Shower
  • Paint Trim
  • Mop Kitchen
  • Clean Bathroom
  • Create Weekly Menu
  • Make Baby Shower Invitations
  • Get Wedding Gift
  • Prepare for Sunday Lesson
  • Read Chapter in Lost
  • Veggie Tray for BBQ

When my to-do list is small I tend to procrastinate more, I simply feel I have more time to spare, thus a longer list tricks my mind into thinking, “I just don’t have time to check up on my high school friends on Facebook.”  The longer list makes me keep moving, it also encourages me.  I enjoy creating and designing so if I put a few things on my list that may not need to be done for a few more weeks, but give me the opportunity to create it encourages me to keep going, like a prize for getting my other work done.  It also gives me options and variety, rather than simply a day full of cleaning I feel the freedom to vacuum, then maybe work on baby shower invitations, and then clean the bathroom.  

Of course there are times that something needs to be done now rather than later and it comes time to simply get it done.  I, though, find that rather than getting away from my to-do list to get on Pinterest, I keep up with my to-do list and read a chapter in my new book and then can go right to what’s next on my list I end up getting a lot more accomplished.  The key is to understand what motivates you to get things done. Look for ways to use productive procrastination, not just as a way to avoid some dreaded task, but as a way to encourage yourself to keep being productive!
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