We all know what procrastination is, right? For example, I need to write a post for the blog, but instead I’m going to Facebook or Pinterest because I don’t feel like writing right now, I have no inspiration, I feel tired … etc. I am sure you experience something similar every now and then.
For instance, have you ever had a situation where you have a task to do but you keep procrastinating its completion until you’ve polished it till perfection so it’s sure that it will be perfect when you finally release it?
The “productive” delay, also known as … procrastination
The very last happened to me recently when I was preparing the new look of my website, and my inner voice immediately responded: “You are just procrastinating it.” (If the fact that I speak with my inner voice worries you, see more about this here and you will calm down. 😉 )
I, of course, was convincing myself that I am not procrastinating it, but I am actually working on the best page design, so when I launch the new design of the blog, it will look amazing. And … I was repeating the same for about two months. The truth, however, is that a good page design is made for no more than a couple of days. Reading new and new material on the topic, constantly adding and removing items while the page becomes “perfect” is simply a treacherous form of procrastination.
It made me believe that I was productive, but, in reality, I was stuck with constantly doing small edits without finalizing it. And, in fact, the end result was the same thing I would get if I had spent the time reading the jokes my friends put on Facebook instead of working on the page.
Why does it happen like that? Why do I show people how to avoid this trap of procrastination in my blog articles, and, at the same time, I myself fell into it?
The reasons were two: perfectionism and anxiety that when I finally show the page, people will not like it. Fortunately, I managed to stop myself, publish the page as it is (you can see it here if you are curious) and … it worked. People started to use it as it is and even liked it. As long as this happens, nothing prevents me from optimizing it in the future if I read some uniquely good advice on the subject. (And no one has ever written me how ugly it is, although you can always be among the first in the comments under this post. :D)
Do you really work or you are trapped in productive procrastination?
If so far, it seems that I am writing this article, just to brag about how I designed my blog, it is not just that. Here are some tips on what to do if you wonder whether you really work or you have fallen in the trap of productive procrastination and you just secretly postpone the completion of the work:
- How do you know that productive procrastination is happening to you? The “productive” procrastination (lets’ call it by its real name) can be recognized by the fact that you have a task that is unusually long lasting because you work on its details, prepare it to perfection, you say to yourself “maybe I can make it better” or “just to finish this and it is ready” …
- How do you analyze the situation? Ask the following questions (several times if necessary) and write down the answers on paper in the most detailed way (writing will help you look more objectively at the answers, or you may think of something that has not come to your mind so far):
- What do I really want from this task as a final result? What do I have to do to achieve it? (The answer to this question will be called Wish list)
- Of everything listed in the previous list, what is the minimum that I need to do to achieve an initial, minimal and unfinished version of the final result? (This will be the To-Do list)
- As a bonus, you might want to think about why you did not do the To-Do list so far and/or why you think that the things in the Wish list are needed before you reach the end result.
- How can you handle it? Once you have a To-Do list, it is time for action. Do the things listed in it and work with the result: release the product or post, apply for the desired job … At a later stage, if you still have the desire and find that it is necessary, do some or all of the items from the Wish list for further improvement of the result. The important thing is to do some action now and stop procrastinating the completion of the task.
We’re productive when we’re motivated and focused on working on what we consider to be our most urgent/important/difficult task. In some cases, you may procrastinate because you like to work under pressure. However, I am not like that and I struggle with the tendency to procrastinate at least as much as most people. When I allow myself to regularly procrastinate in small ways, the risk to procrastinate in big ways always increases.
In other words, telling yourself that its okay to procrastinage this small task now or work on it a bit more until you touch the details can develop the habit to do that more often and on bigger scale. If this sounds like you, the first step is to gain some awareness about how you talk to yourself when you feel the urge to procrastinate.
We can procrastinate actively (turning on the television instead) or passively (pretending like we’re still generally in work mode by continuing to stare at our computer screen in-between checks of social media), but either way, we’re doing nothing, and we feel terrible about that.
Besides, when we procrastinate, we often feel too guilty to do fun things, so instead we force ourselves to sit at the computer all day, scrolling through Facebook and taking online quizzes.
So learn how to catch yourself when you are in the state of “productive” procrastination and I wish you a successful action!
A Little Note & Thanks
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