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Procrastination: Love it. Hate it. Manage it. Practice it.

By January 23, 20142 Comments

We all do it, some more than others. 

While researching our latest book, Folding Time, on the topic of procrastination, major universities and papers published online we found much of the world procrastinates: many of us use it as an excuse for not getting things done.

Piers Steel, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary in Canada, conducted a significant research study on procrastination in 2007. According to Steel, 20-26% of adults are chronic procrastinators – and as many as 95% are occasional procrastinators (apparently students have a high chronic procrastination rate).

Procrastination is seen as a psychological problem, rather than a time management style.  Most authors on this subject divide the world into procrastinators versus non-procrastinators.  I disagree because everyone procrastinates! There is no such thing as a non-procrastinator.

Procrastination can be paralyzing for a small percentage for the population who really struggle with this. Folding Time allows you to focus your energy and attention on the right things and keeps accountability high for completion.

There are many reasons cited for procrastination, among them (in no particular order):

  • Low self-esteem
  • Low motivation (for various reasons: dislike of task, not considering a task as important)
  • Pursuit of instant gratification from other activities
  • Lack of self-control or self-discipline
  • Martyr complex
  • Stubbornness/manipulation
  • Indecision
  • Intimidated/overwhelmed by task
  • Don’t understand task/don’t know how to accomplish task
  • Coping mechanism
  • Perfectionism

Procrastination can be an excuse – what would happen if you practiced procrastination?

Wait … now hurry up!

During a Disney trip, it was fascinating watching the lines waiting for rides. People would rush to get in a line and then wait … and wait! You could hurry up your wait by getting a quick pass that told you when to return for the ride (especially the more popular ones) and then … you could wait some more! Hurry up … and wait.

Take a brief pause – A moment to stop and reflect: to pause what you are doing, to think before you speak, to decide if this is the best use of your time … these strategies can help you make a smarter move.

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen shares smart people procrastinate! I love this, and this doesn’t give you an excuse to not get things done. It means taking time to pause is powerful.

Brian Tracy in his book Eat that Frog shares time management is really life management. We need to know the true sense of urgency for some things, and then we need to realize in life we need to practice procrastination.

Here are ways you can practice procrastination:

  • Keep a list. Sequence your list.
  • Put pressure on yourself.
  • Think like you only have one day to complete something.
  • Take one full day off every week (or start monthly if you can’t do this weekly) to just do nothing.
  • Be your own cheerleader and stop following the requests of others.
  • Create silent zones where you won’t allow technology of any kind to permeate the space.

Get a procrastination pal – No, not someone you can procrastinate with!  Identify someone you can call when you are procrastinating who will help you get on track.  Let them know they are your designated procrastination pal and when you call them they have permission to help you get focused and moving (and that includes telling you to get off you b**t and do something!).

Know the contribution you make – Procrastination might be a great tool to determine where is the best place for you to contribute and make an impact. It forces you to step back and review.

Productivity is about deletion … not addition – The old style productivity or time management programs will teach you how to arrange all the activities you have in systems including calendars, task lists, folders … and while this is all good information, it is flawed! Productivity is not about addition; it’s about deletion!

It’s not about adding more to your already full plate, it’s about deleting activities from your plate.  Maybe your procrastination is allowing you to identify which activities or tasks you need to delete?

Folding Time is essential to allow you to filter your choices. You can change your workflow to free-up time spent working and invest more time with those you care about.

Folding time tip: leveraging your energy and focusing your attention will give a greater sense of achievement on a daily basis: that’s why Folding Time is essential for you to master today.

PS. If you want more ideas on how to increase your productivity and overcome procrastination– check out other blogs here and several eBooks you can share with your team.



  • Brent says:

    What a great new spin on procrastination! I like your reoccurring theme in everything you write about taking time to yourself, eliminating tech time and scheduling family time. Keep up the great work!

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