The Art of Strategic Procrastination
Procrastination gets a bad rap. When you hear a tale about procrastination, it usually implies or explicitly states that the offending procrastinator is being lazy. Yet, to procrastinate simply means to defer action or delay. If your procrastination is purposeful, are you being lazy or strategic?
If you’ve ever multi-tasked or had a to-do list, then you’re already well on your way to mastering the art of strategic procrastination. When determining your priorities, you’re basically identifying which tasks can be delayed. From the top down, it’s a priority list. From the bottom up, it’s a procrastination list.
It’s safe to assume that you always have a long list of tasks to complete at work and a laundry list of things to do at home (which, coincidentally, includes doing the laundry). In both cases, you constantly re-evaluate and re-prioritize tasks depending on their level of importance, the amount of relevant information you have (or don’t have) required to complete the task, and various time factors. What are the deadlines? How much time do I currently have to perform ‘X’ number of tasks? How much time will each task take? Each must be carefully considered when balancing your priorities against the candidates for procrastination.
A few weeks ago I was given an important project. I determined that it wouldn’t be difficult but it would be incredibly time consuming. The time frame given to complete the task was roughly three months – plenty of time despite the amount of work involved. I felt I had most of the information I needed in order to get started (and had been encouraged to do so), yet I had a nagging feeling that there was still more information to come. Instead of diving right in, I decided to purposefully procrastinate.
A couple days ago, I had a meeting with key stakeholders in the project and new information came to light. Because of this new information, it was determined that there was no longer a need to undertake this project. Thanks to my strategic procrastination, I didn’t waste countless hours on a project that was ultimately abandoned. Furthermore, due to the nature of the project, had I started I would have had to spend many more hours “reversing” any work that had been done.
Until technology develops a way to simultaneously do EVERYTHING at once, there will always be a need to procrastinate. Just make sure to be purposeful and strategic about it. And, if you have a procrastination success story, feel free to share it in the comment section now…or perhaps tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that…