What is a successful procrastinator? In my book, it’s someone who waits till the last-possible minute, but still gets that project in on time or skids into that meeting just before the doors close. Here are eight tips to help guide your success:
1 – Never forget that the point is to procrastinate and get away with it! There are people who use procrastination as a form of passive aggressive resistance — that’s a whole different ball game, and one I don’t know how to play. That kind of procrastination is much more likely to end up as self-sabotage.
2 – Successful procrastination is a very delicate art and it depends on knowing and respecting your personal cycles and rhythms. It’s important to be able to count on having the focus, clarity, and energy you need when you need it. For example, I’ve learned that in the spring and summer I need to start sooner on projects — during fall and winter my inner processes are sharper and faster, and I’ve learned to adjust my schedules accordingly.
3 – Keep notes of any relevant ideas or insights you get while procrastinating, and put them where you’ll be able to find them quickly once you begin your project. My favorite spot is ‘memos’ in my PDA.
4 – Know and respect the cycles and requirements of whatever system or person you’re dealing with. When I write for a particular publication, one of the first things I do is find out about the absolute drop-dead deadlines. If I miss those, I create real problems for far more than myself, and I prefer to avoid that. Some people don’t care if you’re a minute or two late — some hate it, and you can lose their trust if you abuse the privilege. At some point, the cost gets too high. Remember, we’re after success!
5 – Decide what you’re willing to pay for each procrastination, and don’t whine or resent the piper you’re going to have to pay once in a while. Face it, if you procrastinate, sometimes you’re just going to miss that deadline. I used to be chronically late renewing drivers and car licenses — then one day I discovered that I really didn’t like paying those fines any more, so I dropped that off my list of comfortable procrastinations.
6 – No excuses! I wish I could whisper this so non-procrastinators can’t hear me, but people find it very disarming when you bravely face the fact that you’ve messed up and missed a deadline. Also, the pain of confession may spur you to procrastinate more skillfully next time.
7 – Here’s the toughest, but most important rule. Successful procrastination depends on finely tuned awareness and responsiveness. If there’s something big in your life that you dread doing, the only way you’ll ever be a successful procrastinator is to just do the dreadful thing and get it out of the way, whether it’s facing a family issue, breaking up in a relationship, or leaving an unhappy job. You can’t concentrate properly when a large part of you is balled up in a wad of dread.
8 – Enjoy the time you spend procrastinating! What a waste it is if you spend your goof-off time worrying about whether or not you’re going to get there/get done/leave on time. Might as well get up and get moving, and try dawdling again some other day.
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