Procrastination: Key to Success?
Is It Ever Good to Procrastinate?
by Diane Eble
We all hear about how bad procrastination is.
"Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today," the success experts chide.
Like many maxims, there's some truth to this. Like many maxims, it doesn't go far enough.
A profound lesson I've learned from one of my mentors is that there are two kinds of procrastination. To be successful at achieving what you really want in life, you need to become a master procrastinator.
A master at what to procrastinate, that is.
See, there are the Important Things, and there are the less important things.
These Important Things rarely appear very Urgent. Many of the Urgent things are rarely that important.
You need to become a master at procrastinating the less-important things, even if they're urgent, so that you can give priority to the more important things.
If you want to write a book, for instance, you need to learn to procrastinate the things that are less important than this goal, and make sure you first do the things that will propel you toward that goal.
That might entail learning about what it takes to get published. Once you gain a little knowledge, you can start constructing your plan. Then you need to start writing.
How do you find the time to do this? By making a commitment to become a master procrastinator.
By mapping out your plan, at least the next few steps, and at the same time decide what you will put off until you take your next baby step toward your goal.
It's not easy, this setting of priorities. I wrestle with it every day. The Urgent always threatens to crowd out the Important but Not Urgent.
The only way I've found to take care of the Important but Not Urgent things is to do at least one little thing FIRST, and procrastinate an Urgent task until after that Important Thing is finished.
Here's what else I've discovered: When I do this—take care of the more important things first—I usually have more energy to do those urgent but less important things . I may initially think I don't have time for the Important Thing, but perhaps it's more a matter of energy and focus.
When I let the Urgent rule my time and attention, in the back of my mind that Important thing I'm not getting done is draining my energy and slightly scattering my focus. Therefore, it takes more time to do that Urgent thing, and I end up never getting to the Important thing.
On the other hand, when I do something that is Important to me, something that takes me where I want to go, I am better able to focus on other things that need doing, and I seem to have more energy to do them.
In the end, then, I end up actually getting everything done—Important and Urgent.
Today, take a moment to jot down something you really want to do. Something Important to you, though it may not be important to anyone else. Something that will take you a step further toward accomplishing some dream.
Next, write down one tiny step you can take today, or first thing tomorrow, and do it first! When thoughts of other things crowd in, tell those Urgent things, "I will get to you in due time."
Notice what happens to your energy, your time, and your ability to get other things done when you become a master at procrastinating the right things.
If you need help in knowing what's important in terms of writing a book, I invite you to check out any past issues of the Your Book Publishing Coach newsletter you may have missed. There are lots of articles there that will show you possible "next steps," depending on where you are already.
And if you're ready to actually start your book, this resource might be perfect for you: Jump Start Your Book: 12 Questions You Must Answer to Write a Book that Sells. There's a whole tool kit here that will get you started—the right way—right away!