Procrastination, You’re The One, Will You Be My Wife?

I love procrastination, and I want her in my life for a very long time. So much so that I’ve asked her for her hand in marriage.

So while I anxiously await her reply and think about honeymoon destinations (fingers crossed she likes Paris), let me explain why.

As creative people, we’re at our most prolific and creative when we focus on just one thing.

Yes, we can (and usually do) have a number of different creative projects underway at any one stage in our lives. But we can’t work on more than one of them in any one moment.

If I was to try to write a few haikus, capture some new woodland photos of summer unfurling, whilst dancing salsa, it would be impossible.

I could do those three different activities in a day, but to get the most from each experience, and to give my best effort and my fullest creative me-ness to each, I would do them one at a time.

The times in the past when I’ve been most creative, have been when I’m been totally immersed and focused on a single task or project.

For example, a while ago I committed to a personal writing marathon of six hours straight. I simply let the people I lived with know of my intentions, asked for their understanding, locked myself in a room and wrote for six hours. I came up with about 5000 words for a novel; it was a great experience.

Think about times when you have been most lost in creating.

Those occasions where you’ve completely lost touch with time and your surroundings, and your entire experience of the whole world during that session was just you creating. Powerful experiences aren’t they?

So, how does this kind of focused creativity relate to my love of procrastination?

Procrastination at is most simple definition is doing one thing to avoid doing something else.

Now if the “one thing” is always pretty meaningless stuff like checking your email for the 14th time that hour, or cleaning a kitchen worktop that’s already more sterile and shiny than a surgeon’s scalpel, and the “something else” is writing that novel that’s burning inside you, then it’s not so good.

Procrastination in this kind of scenario is not helpful, because you’re losing out on doing work that’s meaningful and important to you.

But what if you get on side with procrastination, charm her a little, talk about how you can help each other and both live together very happily?

What if the “one thing” you’re doing to avoid something else is itself a very creative and productive activity that you love doing?

An example. Say you have two creative projects you’re dying to get to work on. A new website design, and collection of short stories. Which do you want to avoid doing the most? Which is the most scary?

Let’s say it’s the short story collection. So, do you know what would be a REALLY great way of procrastinating and avoiding spending even a second of time on that project? Immersing yourself in something that’s so involving it’ll help you forget about the short stories altogether for now. Something like your new website design.

So there you are, highly focused on designing your site, and making more progress than you’ve done in weeks. In the meantime Miss Procrastination is delighted because she’s helping you completely avoid compiling that short story collection. Win/win!

You can get incredible amounts done when you’re procrastinating.

I’m sure you can attest to this yourself. The energy and furious activity that’s generated when you’re trying to avoid doing something is immense.

All you have to do is channel this into something else.

Here I have a personal confession. In my creativity coaching business, if I’m not sure what to do with my time, or what task is most urgent, I write an article for the blog, to avoid making a decision.

I’m certainly not saying you should always avoid making decisions, but if in the meantime you do something creative, the time is put to great use anyway.

It’s this use of procrastination that’s allowed me to write a new post virtually every day for the last three months. That’s why I love the power or procrastination.

Try this yourself. Think about the one thing you’re most afraid of working on and committing your creativity to. Then make sure you don’t spend any time on it by unplugging all distractions and locking yourself away in a defiant act of procrastination and working on the next most important thing.

Oh, please excuse me, I have to go now. My phone just vibrated, it might be my future bride with her answer. Au revoir mon ami!

Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin helps people become as creative as they’ve always known they can be. You can find out more at his blog, A Big Creative Yes or follow him on Twitter.

(Main post image from Flickr by Magec)


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7 Responses to “ Procrastination, You’re The One, Will You Be My Wife? ”

  1. Fabulous post. I love to procrastinate. I just started reading “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore and it’s potentially life-changing. I didn’t realize how closely tied procrastination and perfectionism are.

    • Dan Goodwin says:

      I think many times, maybe the majority of times, perfectionism is the main cause of procrastination.

      It works in two ways too, as I’m discovering more and more. We’re afraid of creating because we fear we don’t have the ability/ talent/ time to make it perfect. So we don’t even start.

      Or, we think we might actually create something amazing. Then what? We create an expectation for more of that standard? We get acclaim we don’t feel we deserve? Other people will resent or be jealous of our achievements?

      Yes, all these things are closely intertwined, which means the good news is by working on one area (eg procrastination) it can’t help but have a positive effect on other areas of our lives too, creatively and otherwise. :)

      Thanks for your comments Kristin.

  2. Most people think procrastination is lazyness, but procrastination is simply putting off doing something that you don’t feel like doing at that point. If you don’t feel it’s the right time to do it, then you probably won’t do it the best you can if you force yourself to do it right now.
    I’ve found, too, that using that time for other creative work brings tremendous results. Things I thought I didn’t have time for before, I now did even better and spent more time on it then I expected I ever would. So spending that time on facebook, cleaning, reading articles you wouldn’t read it you had something better to do, chating, watching a movie for the 10th time, or even things that might seem urgent like checking email, are completely unimportant. Nothing will happen if we don’t do them, but the things we do instead of them might just blow us away when we realize what’s possible.

    • Dan Goodwin says:

      Thanks for your comments Stella.

      Yes, lazyness is doing nothing, procrastination actually takes a lot of effort, focus, and ironically, a lot of creativity.

      People sometimes say to me they procrastinate and so easily come up with dozens of clever and devious ways to avoid creating. Coming up with those ways is very inventive and creative in itself!

      I agree about doing other stuff that might blow us away. We all know what meaningless procrastination is, you listed some of the prime examples.

      But harnessing this core concept of procrastination – which is doing one thing to avoid doing something else – we can get incredible, important work done.

      What’s also good with this kind of approach is that it’s not always the most obvious creative projects that end up being the most fulfilling or successful, however you want to define those terms for you.

      Sometimes we have what we think are wonderful ideas, but they never really go anywhere. It happens. Other times, it’s the less obvious, smaller ideas that given time and nurturing, evolve into some of our greatest work. And often it’s these that are more rewarding because we have far less expectation attached than we do to the obvious “big ideas”.

      If we only ever focused our energy on the SECOND most important thing we can think of (to avoid working on the MOST important thing) we would still have an amazingly rewarding life.

      Dan

  3. Suzanne says:

    so it’s like procrastination under control!
    this post changed the way I look to procrastination, loved it and loved all the comments, and your highly creative blog, just wanted to say thanks.

    • Dan Goodwin says:

      Thanks for your comments and kind words Suzanne.

      Sometimes we just need that little shift in perspective to see things in a far less scary and intimidating way.

      It’s easy to demonise stuff like procrastination and make it a big monster we have no possible hope of defeating and should always run scared from. Break it down and it’s not so terrifying. There are always ways we can learn to help us be more creative. : )

      Dan

  4. Great article. I agree 100% personal development is a must for any human being wanting to excel at life. If we all focused on this the world would be a better place. I have been dedicated to personal development for almost 10 years and it feels good to read some new content. Keep up the good work and feel free to post a comment and sitelink on my personal development blog. Thanks -David http://www.motivationandhappiness.com

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