9 Secrets To Productive Procrastination
Procrastinating is not for dummies. In fact, productive procrastinating is one of the smartest things you do for yourself to stay on track. Long workdays can be broken up as long as you procrastinate with a purpose. When you do this, procrastinating can actually help you meet your goals. These 9 Secrets teach you how to create productive procrastination instead of waste your time!
Procrastinating means putting tasks off intentionally or habitually. So naturally, the word has a negative connotation. But what I’ve noticed after working with clients to increase their productivity through customizing their environments and optimizing their habits, is that many people have developed productive procrastination techniques that actually help them get back on track.
For instance, have you ever put your work off, then done something physical? Let’s say you go for a brisk walk or run. When you do, you actually come back recharged, full of endorphins and when you’re aware of productivity secrets, you’re able to kick right back into gear. But when procrastination starts to negatively affect your levels of productivity and gets in your way, here are some tips to help you get back on track and accomplish your business (or personal) projects!
Defining Productive Procrastination
First, a little about productive procrastination. I found it amusing that while preparing for this post, I looked productive procrastination up online and here’s what Miriam-Webster said:
Sorry, the word you’re looking for can’t be found in the dictionary. There are several possible reasons why the search failed:
- You searched for a word using nonstandard orthography that completely stumped our spell-checker.
- You searched for a word that hasn’t been entered into the dictionary yet. A neologism!
- You followed a malformed link to our site. These kind of snafus happen.
- Something dreadful has occurred with our site. We beg your patience while our developers attempt to ameliorate the situation.
The fact is, I didn’t spell anything incorrectly, nor is there anything dreadfully wrong with their site. Instead, I believe I’ve entered a ‘neologism‘. “The English language is constantly picking up neologisms or new words. Recently, for example, computer technology has added a number of new terms to the language. “Webinar,” “malware,” “netroots,” and “blogosphere” are just a few examples of modern-day neologisms that have been integrated into American English. The word neologism was itself a brand-new coinage at the beginning of the 19th century when English speakers first borrowed it from the French nèologisme. Its roots, however, are quite old. Ultimately, “neologism” comes from Greek neos (meaning “new”) and “logos” (meaning “word”).” [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neologism]
What are the Secrets To Productive Procrastination?
So, now that we have a new word combination, let’s explore these 9 secrets to help you productively procrastinate!
Procrastination is in the eye of the beholder. It is only procrastination if it negatively impacts your outcomes, lifestyle or results. But, if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, here are some of the practices to help you re-engage and find your creative groove.
Productive Procrastination Secret #1
Schedule your calendar in chunks of time.
This is a concept I teach in many of my workshops and talk about with clients often. ‘Chunking time‘ is the practice of setting blocks of time aside that are ‘promised’ to completing essential tasks. When I work, I blocked off entire days for administrative tasks, finances, marketing, networking, and self-care. I consolidate coaching calls and meetings to Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and typically chunk my time for specific tasks on Mondays and Fridays. It simplifies what I must do, and creates some needed boundaries in a sea of uncontrollable stuff. Having done this, client bookings are simplified, tasks get completed, and even when I procrastinate, I can get productive right away because I have already determined my time chunks.
Productive Procrastination Secret #2
Do a weekly brain dump and review.
When you dump all the stuff in your brain by writing it down, it makes it easy to ‘see’ what is on your mind causing you to feel overwhelmed. My favorite way to brain dump is a structured technique I’ve developed over years of working with clients. I use my Sunday Sanity Summit plan and review tool. This tool helps me refocus because I’m able to get all of my random thoughts out of my head and down onto paper. There are several ways to brain dump, however. Sometimes I use an electronic document, and others I’ll use colored index cards or post-it notes. I think that the process of actually writing with a pen and paper is most helpful and productive. I don’t know what about it works for me, but I do believe there is a different level of release when thoughts pour out of my head and down on paper. The challenge is to create a unique system that is right for you, but that you’ll use consistently. Consistency helps you build trust in your systems. So, stick with a process for a while before changing it up.
Productive Procrastination Secret #3
Capture your procedures and create your processes.
Another way to turn procrastination into something more productive is to start documenting how you do things in business. In fact, this is one of my favorite ways to help my clients. They book a full day strategy session to walk them through an entire procedures documentation process. WHY? Because small business owners typically have thousands of bits and pieces of information spinning around in their heads. Often, especially in the early stages of growing a business, you are the log-jam to getting the necessary support you need. When you get support, your time is freed up to do more sales and marketing! So, I help my clients through a structured technique I’ve developed over years to identify and capture their most important processes. Once you have created these, this becomes a legacy asset to your business and the jumping-off place for delegating tasks to get them off your plate!
Productive Procrastination Secret #4
Repurpose, re-think, re-invent,
and re-use your best stuff!
If you procrastinate due to writer’s block, instead of staring at a blank page, I have a robust list (several actually) of all of my content and informational assets! When I find I’m procrastinating because I’m stuck or short on time, I sift through existing materials for ideas I can use. Sometimes past newsletters, articles, tips, presentation notes, workshop outlines, handouts, notebooks, podcasts, and even scribble scraps contain thousands of ideas. When I’m stuck for new content, this helps me productively procrastinate. And ideas from here and there once consolidated really do provide a strong foundation for something new!
Productive Procrastination Secret #5
Create space to capture and hold
your ideas till you’re ready.
One of the keys to managing my Hopper Personality Style is to create strong systems that I can ‘hop in and out of’. Strong, reliable systems are the key to taking time off, and keeping the pilot lights on back-burner projects. I love to use tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and Asana to manage my ideas and ongoing tasks. When I have a reliable place to drop ideas and tasks then later pick them up when I’m ready, I’m more able to manage my energy and flow. This technique then helps me productively procrastinate because I can pick right up where I left off, and not lose too much time in between tasks. My favorite tool is Asana because I can flow out my ideas and set arbitrary deadlines to tasks that message me on the date I’ve pre-set. This is a great memory trigger and helps me prioritize that task, or re-set the date for a later reminder.
Productive Procrastination Secret #6
Get motivated through movement.
Get moving and get motivated! This is a long-known technique to overcome that late afternoon lollygagging tendency. If you want to productively procrastinate, instead of surfing Facebook, put your sneaks on and get outside for a brisk 20-minute walk. OR, open your fitness app and do their 7-10 minute mini workout! The reason? The minute you start exercising, your focus shifts and blood flow increases. This immediately starts sending positive hormones through your system and to your brain. When your brain starts flowing more effectively, you start buzzing with new energy and shift. Moving to motivate yourself is a great way to take 20 minutes and productively procrastinate!
Productive Procrastination Secret #7
Get out and change your environment.
Along with the movement idea above, often people can productively procrastinate by going out for a coffee or a bite to eat… alone! I’ve worked with several clients who actually prefer working from a busy coffee shop or a local place that is bustling with activity. The ‘Starbucks Effect’ as written by Judith Kohlberg, seems to help people focus in a noisy environment. Simply, when you place yourself in an external place that is busy and noisy, it tends to cancel out your inward distractions.
The external distractions (voices, people coming and going, clattering plates, etc.) cancels out internal distractions such as random thoughts, ideas, worries, and that mental to-do list we all carry around with us. Once the external and internal distractions are roughly zeroed out, the task-at-hand comes into focus.” [Squall Press 05/26/2015 ‘The Starbucks Effect’.]
So, if this idea sounds good to you, and you find yourself procrastinating on an important task, head for your nearest coffee shop if you want to productively procrastinate!
Productive Procrastination Secret #8
Set an external deadline,
game it and reward yourself!
External deadlines can be very motivating. Remember when you had assignments due in school? The thought of a looming deadline can be very motivating. Whether it’s our fear of failing, or the threat of someone else breathing down our neck, deadlines work. The trick for chronic procrastinators is to set deadlines that you’ll actually HONOR, and not blow off! Setting external deadlines can be more successful if you create a game and promise yourself a reward when you are done.
One example of gaming a habit is noted in the well-known interview of the world-renowned comic Jerry Seinfeld. He shared how he used to pressure himself to write every day in an effort to get better and have enough material for his comedy acts. Here’s how it works to beat procrastination. He used a full year wall calendar and a red magic marker. For each day he’d write, he put a big red X on that day. And with consistency, the chain grew longer every day. When you get a few weeks under your belt, you begin to see the effects, and you won’t want to break the chain. When you get to the end of a month, you can reward yourself! So to productively procrastinate, your only job is to not break the chain!
Productive Procrastination Secret #9
Get an accountability partner to help you
stay on track toward your goals.
Accountability is defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions [Miriam-Webster: accountability]. The reason it is a secret to productive procrastination is that we are much more likely to hold ourselves accountable to someone else than we are ourselves. When you have a buddy who is focused on your goals and agrees to the transparency necessary to be successful, you are more likely to succeed. An accountability buddy can help you productively procrastinate because while you’ll spend time away from your tasks communicating with one another, you are more likely to honor your goals and priorities when they are shared.
When all else fails with these nine strategies, it’s time to do some deep self-reflection! The Time & Space Style Inventory (TSSI) will provide a baseline of your productivity personality style preferences, and from there, you can develop procrastination habits that will help you instead of stand in your way. Find the TSSI Here.
To conclude, when you’re not feeling the flow you need to be productive or stay on task, try to productively procrastinate. It will be exciting to try these tips out for yourself. Just select one of the secrets above to try next time you’re procrastinating and see how it works for you! Once you do, let us know what happens in the comments below! Or, if you have thoughts or ideas about productive procrastination, please share them below!
If you’d like help beating procrastination and staying productive, let’s connect. Schedule a complimentary Discovery Call and let’s see if I can help you get on track, exceed your goals and get more done!
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