Which option would you choose? The conventional wisdom purveyors tell us being in action is best the answer to creating results and procrastination is a BAD thing! Under some circumstances, that is true -- but not always! I know too many tired people who are trying to increase their business with doing more, working harder and trying to outwit the time they have by going faster, or worse: multitasking! They aren’t working a peak proficiency or focusing… they are just doing everything that gets tossed at them trying to make progress.
Instead of feeling happy about their working, they are feeling burned out or frustrated.
I've come to value procrastination. Sometimes waiting brings better ideas, results, information and synchronicities. I used to press myself when there was a task to bear down and just get it done. More, harder, faster! Then, by accident a few times, and then by conscious awareness, I began to see when Ididn't take immediate action on something, because I just didn't feel ready, often better outcomes occurred!
In working with my coaching clients, I rarely find their procrastination is an avoidance of things they know would make a viable difference, but rather, procrastination usually shows up when things don't quite feel in alignment. We produce the best results when our values, goals and methods are all in alignment and yet many training programs suggest there is one "right" way to prospect, for example, and unfortunately, it doesn't fit for everyone.
So, how do you distinguish the procrastination that is borne of avoidance and distractions from "good" procrastination? It really isn't complicated.
Begin by asking yourself why you are procrastinating.
Is it something that you need more information to go forward with? If so, identify what you need and then get 'er done!
Is it something you fear? If so, what's the worst that could happen? Is it worse to wait or to take action?
Is it something that you just don't feel comfortable doing (a mis-alignment of values)? A very common situation I often see here is people who don't want to make calls because they perceive that action as intrusive or obnoxious. Their values of how they want to be treated and want others to treat them is offended by this. Two options exist with this one. First, can it be your perception of what you are doing is off? If you knew people would be happy to talk to you and get good info about what is going on in the market, would you then be comfortable? Think in any given situation, how it can be brought in line with your values... In this one, serving people rather than bothering them. Secondly, when you feel discomfort, ask yourself if there is another way to accomplish the same result. Perhaps attending a networking event, instead of calling people.
Do you have a feeling that you aren't "ready" to do something yet? This is the one that I find can be goodprocrastination. Always weigh the cost of not making a decision or taking an action right now and if there isn't any downside, honor your feelings and wait! I've had cheaper airplane rates, a better opportunity for a time slot I was going to commit to, and all sorts of "perfect" situations that would have been lost if I had forced myself to just take action! Sometimes, something happened during my wait that showed me the obvious decision, adding information that was important that I wouldn’t have known by pushing.6. One more advantage to procrastination is that when something is put off, often it falls off the list and ends up not needing attention at all. It comes down to the highest and best use of your time may NOT be getting everything done!
This is another case of “Just because you can… doesn’t mean you should!”
One of my clients reminded me of a different way to approach this that I have used and loved.... It's called The Placemat Exercise from The Law of Attraction folks: Abraham-Hicks.
Here’s how it works...
Each morning, start your day by doing this:
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it vertically. On the lefthand side, make a list of things you are going to take care of that day. On the right hand side, make a list of the things you’d like the universe to handle for you. And then get on with the day. Each time the universe DOES handle something, notice and give gratitude!
The link above shows some concrete examples. What I have done with this is begin to move more and more things to the right column. This takes trusting, (yourself and the universe)... but you’ll be amazed at how many things either work themselves out or have answers show up. One of the reasons I like this is because we often limit the ways something should happen, (Mike Dooley calls it being focused on “the cursed hows”), and then fail to see another possible way of getting to our goal. Often, by letting go, we get an even better result, too!
But, fundamentally, I believe if you try this daily for a couple of weeks, you’ll find yourself worrying less, having less to figure out and having happy circumstances showing up. Is that worth a try? Let me know!