Overcoming Productive Procrastination

We’ve all heard of, and likely fallen victim to, procrastination. But have you ever caught yourself being a productive procrastinator? 

If you’re like me, you might be saying that’s quite the oxymoron. How can the procrastinator in me show any productivity? 

But as I thought further, I discovered I’ve fallen into this conundrum many times! I don’t consider myself a procrastinator, as I diligently work through my to do list each day. As I learned more, I discovered productive procrastination was holding me back from achieving some of my big & exciting, yet overwhelming goals.  

I was a productive procrastinator! 

Productive procrastination is staying busy and avoiding what actually needs to get done. I used time wisely to accomplish a lot, but I focused on tasks I knew I could do that were within my comfort zone. My procrastination wasn’t in avoiding work, but rather in dodging the hard stuff where I feared failure.  

Now, productive procrastination is not always bad because it helps get the small, quick items off your to do list! Take advantage of those extra minutes between meetings or your delayed subway commute. Skip the mindless social media scrolling to focus on your task list or re-energizing, such as taking a walk or de-cluttering your desk.  

However, when you want to focus your energy to tackle those big goals, what can you do to overcome productive procrastination? Follow these steps to help set yourself up for success. 

  1. Document Your Goals: you can’t measure progress your against goals if you don’t have a clear understanding of what they are. In order to identify productive procrastination, you need to know what you’re working towards. Take time to think about, and document, your goals and priorities. 
  1. Create Awareness: productive procrastination sneaks up on you. While it may be a more conscious choice to procrastinate unproductively, seeing productivity and checking off those completed tasks provides a sense of accomplishment. The feelings aren’t there to trigger your awareness. Ask yourself if you are doing busy work or taking meaningful action towards your goals. Regularly measure your progress – if the needle isn’t moving, determine where your productivity is going.  
  1. Determine Root Cause: if your productive actions don’t align to your end goal, it’s time for some introspection. Is there something you are avoiding, or are you are scared to fail? Are you unsure of where to start? Work to identify what is preventing active work towards your goals.

Pro tip: don’t use your to do list as an excuse! 

  1. Strategic Planning: once you’ve uncovered the underlying cause of productive procrastination, develop an action plan. If you’re scared of failure, what is the worst case scenario, and is it valid? If you’re overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, break your goal into smaller tasks. Identify what steps will best move your project forward. 
  1. Take Action: develop a way to hold yourself accountable, and actively work towards your desired outcome. You could ask a friend or colleague to check in, or join a MasterMind group. Schedule time into your calendar with an incentive system to keep you on track. 

MasterMind Hack: commit to donating a certain dollar amount to your favorite charity if you misuse your allotted time!

  1. Celebrate Your Wins: stay motivated by celebrating your progress! Recognize your accomplishments, both big and small, and be proud of the steps you take each day! We accomplish far more in any given day than we give ourselves credit for.   

Have you found yourself in a productive procrastination cycle? How does it impact your progress on major projects? Comment or send us a note about your experiences and your actions to overcome this hidden roadblock!  

Are you looking for additional support in overcoming procrastination to work towards your goals? Check out our coaching services!

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