High Performance Procrastination


Procrastination is a dirty word in the corporate vernacular. Procrastination is a cardinal sin in most organizations and procrastinators are often looked down upon and at times vilified. The vilification stops today!

Procrastination can be a high performance tool. A procrastinator can be admired and respected. Procrastination can be a high performance, efficiency tool.

How, you ask?

Procrastination empowers others to solve problems.
Have you ever received an email from a colleague or a direct report alerting you to a problem or an issue? I imagine this happens frequently throughout your day. Now think back to a time where you read the email and then did not respond. You let the email sit in your inbox. As the hours wore on, the problem was resolved –without your input. Miraculous! Your procrastination – your lack of action – created the space and the opportunity for your colleague or direct report to resolve the problem. You empowered them to solve the problem.

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Procrastination helps us cull our to do lists.
How often have you looked at your to do list and seen for the one hundredth time that pesky task and or project that has been sitting, lingering, growing mold on your list and taking up psychic space. You avoid it – like the plague! You procrastinate! However, your procrastination around this item is actually very informative. How important is this task or project? Is it connected to one of your goals or a broader strategic goal of the organization? Cull your task list and let go. Procrastination points you to the tasks and projects that probably need to go.

Procrastination aids us in initiating work at the ideal time.
I’ll get to that later. No, I am not going to work on that project today. These are the familiar refrains that run through our heads as we put off, yet again, that task or project because it is too hard, too overwhelming, boring – you fill in the blank. However, procrastination actually assists us in getting the work done at the ideal time. The high performance procrastinator waits to be inspired. Inspiration does not strike on a timetable. High performance procrastinators use another task or project to stimulate their thinking on all of their projects and tasks. So, yes, they could be said to be procrastinating, however, they are actually leveraging their brain’s systems to provide insights and ideas on multiple projects at once. When inspiration strikes, they will be ready and complete their task or project at the ideal time.

Procrastination shows us what has real meaning, purpose and interest for us.
Procrastination opens a window to look inside ourselves. There is a reason you are procrastinating. Procrastination shows us what we fear, do not want to do, what does not have our attention or interest, and/or does connect with our sense of meaning and purpose. This is very useful information – high performance information. If I can name my fears, examine why I do not want to do a project, or why I am not interested – then I am able to take a step forward.

Try it. Embrace procrastination! It can be a high performance tool.

Carson Tate is part coach, business consultant and professional organizer who is the founder and principal of Working Simply Inc. Tate will lead the breakout session “Work Simply. Live Fully” at our Moms@Work event, Sept. 26 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Find out more.