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  • Procrastination

    It just occurred to me, isn’t procrastination an easy way to solve the prioritization problem? Just look down your list of tasks, pick out the ones that you have left too long, and hey presto! They are the ones you HAVE to do today! Maybe that’s why we procrastinate: trying to decide what to do next is exhausting, and can be fraught with conflict, but nobody can argue with fire-fighting a crisis. You can even feel blissfully self-righteous for a while: although now I’m reading Ken Blanchard’s “On Time On Target Management” and it sets out the consequences of this approach to work in starkly horrifying terms …


  • #2
    Putting out fires

    Dave I hear yah brother. I think about how many times I procrastinated with dire results: Putting off a quote for a customer. It would eat me up worrying about getting it done until that glorious day when the customer would call and say they didn't need it any longer, they bought elsewhere. Boy what a relief, I can cross that one off my list of things to do. I have even done trade shows and hyped up everyone coming within 10 feet of the booth and then after the show, not follow up. After all we were pretty busy and didn't really need the extra business. What a waste, because I loved the thrill of the chase, not the followup.
    If I put off brushing my teeth long enough, I guess the problem would eventually take care of itself. I even love to tell people how busy I am "putting out fires" in a boastful demeanor as if that should impress them.
    I first bought Ready fo Anything and also bought the same CDs to listen while I drive as a plan for my "procrastination" problems. I plan on getting GTD this weekend as it seems to be the basis for what most people at this forum are using for their organizational systems.
    You know the joke: I bought a book on procrastination but I put off reading it.


    • #3
      Dave: Isn't that what the Weekly Review for? You look through all this stuff and recommit or dismiss stuff that has been hanging around for a long time (since the last Weekly Review). Somebody (maybe DA) put us on the right track:

      Make a rule - When in doubt:
      (a) Trash the item
      (b) Don't trash the item.

      (Hey, it's your rule.) I like (a) - if it is important it will come back around into the Inbox.



      • #4
        The Big Easy

        Busydave wrote:
        It just occurred to me, isn’t procrastination an easy way to solve the prioritization problem?
        It may be an easy way, but it is also a really bad way. What you are doing is delaying action on things until they become emergencies, and then picking the biggest emergency to work on.

        Hurriedly working in panic mode is stressful for you, frequently stressful for your coworkers, and usually results in a product of mediocre quality.

        You may appear heroic for a while, but eventually, it will dawn on people that the emergencies became emergencies because someone (i.e., you) were asleep at the switch. This will not bode well for your long-term compensation and career objectives.


        • #5
          Somewhere I read that there are several styles of procrastination:

          1: Perfectionist. Reluctant to start or finish a task because they don’t want anything less than perfect.
          2: Dreamer. They don’t like details. This makes ideas difficult to implement.
          3: Worrier. They have an excessive need for security, causing them to fear risk. They fear change, causing them to avoid finishing projects so they don’t have to leave the comfort of the “known.”
          4: Defier. A rebel seeking to buck the rules. By procrastinating, they are setting their own schedule -- one that nobody else can predict or control. More subtle forms are called passive-aggressive.
          5: Crisis-Maker. Addicted to the adrenaline rush of living on the edge.
          6: Over-Doer. Says yes to too much because they are unable or unwilling to make choices and establish priorities. They have difficulty making decisions. Prime candidate for burnout.



          • #6
            Originally posted by I
            Somewhere I read that there are several styles of procrastination ...
            Found the link again:


            • #7

              As a committed procrastinator I have to mention that there have been some positive outcomes. The sales prospect that went broke as I was procrastinating (that one has happened more than once).

              Putting off talking to someone angry gives them time to calm down.

              You have to take your procrastination to the next level. You sound like a bunch of amateur practitioners!

              Mark in Texas


              • #8
                Good vs. Lucky

                dal1mdm wrote:
                As a committed procrastinator I have to mention that there have been some positive outcomes. The sales prospect that went broke as I was procrastinating (that one has happened more than once).
                Rabbi Harold Kushner, in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People cautions against confusing intentions with results. Everyone who procrastinates (me included) can point to times when having been more proactive would have led to wasted effort or worse. But let's face it. We weren't smart, we were just lucky.

                My experience has been that for every time I luck out by procrastinating, there are ten times where procrastinating just made things worse. In your case, I wonder how many sales you have lost because you did not follow up with customers in a timely manner.

                On top of that, when I procrastinate, there is a constant mental pressure of knowing that I need to do something and mentally pushing it away at the same time.

                However, your post makes me wonder if it is possible to be too proactive. In some cases it may be a good idea to allow things to settle for a while in order to let emotions cool down, or to just see if there really is a need for action on our part.

                Of course, that kind of deliberate and planned delay in responding to demands on our time is not what we're really talking about here. We're talking about senseless and counterproductive delay that is driven by the kinds of emotional and psychological issues Rainer listed in his post above. The real test is when our planned delay period expires. Can we just start working on the project, or do we just start looking for the next excuse not to.


                • #9


                  You are right of course. Procrastination always does more harm than good in the long run. I brag about procrastination the way I heard golfers recently bragging about how bad they were at golf!

                  Its a half joke because the truth is that I do procrastinate.

                  Of course, if you are wise enough to see that the time is not right to act, then thats something else - not true procrastination. I think we all mean that to procrastinate is to put off something you really ought to do.

                  I gotta go call that customer now...