Procrastination. We all do it. Sometimes its even healthy. I’ve talked about it plenty in the past if you want to read more.
What I’m going to discuss today comes from Rory Vaden’s conversation with Ed Mylett on Ed’s podcast. You can listen here. In that conversation, Rory discusses the three types of procrastination. I list them below along with my experience as they relate to me using Define My Day.
The Three Types of Procrastination
This is something we all do. We know we need to do something, yet we do something else anyway. Yesterday I needed to rake leaves but instead watched football. I made the active choice to procrastinate.
This type of procrastination can actually be healthy as long as we’re fully aware of the costs and benefits. The costs to me were that I’d have to do it later – at maybe a less convenient time and that I’d have to look at them longer – potentially causing me stress and dirty looks from the neighbors. On the flip side, I spent hours with my two boys enjoying the games.
Classic procrastination can get unhealthy when it becomes a habit. Things pile up and we get overwhelmed, stressed, and behind on important tasks. Heaven forbid something unexpected comes up and we’re hit with even more work while overwhelmed. The wheels can fly off here.
I use Define My Day to plan ahead. I schedule my priorities first, so I get important things done early. I leave time in the afternoon or evening for what can wait in case something pops up or I feel too run down to do it.
I also use the journal page to help me keep in touch with where my head really is. If I’m feeling stressed, I can usually find the answer when I’m sitting still for ten minutes while journaling. Sometimes it’s that thing I’ve been putting off and now it’s time to make it a priority.
You’ll find me doing this anytime I need to make a hard phone call or sit down for a big project. I’ll find all sorts of other “important” work to do. I’ll check email, clean my desk, read articles, or do all the busywork life throws at me. The problem is the really important thing that makes a difference didn’t get done.
We address this in Define My Day by identifying what to avoid today. Typically, I write my phone, social media, checking email outside of designated times, or complaining/listening to complaining. All these things have a negative impact on my ability to focus on what matters. The more mindful I can be to not engage in them, the more I get done – and the better I feel!
Think business owners or that ever frantic parent – they may suffer from this. I’ve been both. Always running, burning the candle at both ends, taking on too much. The end result is the same – overwhelm and exhaustion.
This idea most was most clear to me years ago. I had begun using Define My Day a few months earlier and was getting into a good rhythm. I was driving home from work to eat dinner at a normal time – not a normal occurence for me. I felt guilty. Like I didn’t do enough work that day.
Sitting at a red light, I had to have the active conversation with myself in my mind – “You accomplished your priorities. The little stuff can wait!”
I was used to doing busywork. I was fooling myself into feeling productive by filling my day with work, even if it didn’t really accomplish much. I felt accomplished! Until I saw my bank account or the major projects I still needed to finish.
I had to use Define My Day to direct my mind toward important, priority tasks each day. Over time I made big progress and found the breathing room to take breaks and, more importantly, get home on time for dinner.
What if everything seems like a priority?
I would beg you to keep evaluating where you’re putting your attention and what results you’re getting. I’ve been doing this for years and I still gain insight as I go through the Define My Day process.
One thing that helps me is to make a big list of everything I must do and rank it in order of importance. I then whittle it down to something manageable. My process is available for download here for free if you’d like to go through it yourself.
Maintaining Health and Balance
Being heathy and happy should always be the goal. Sometimes we sabotage that through procrastination whether we know it or not. Can you identify distractions or priority dilution in your life?
How can you navigate them better?