Productive Procrastination

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to talk about all the really good things about procrastination.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

I had 6 weeks to write this article. I’m writing it the day before deadline. I confess, I’m a serial procrastinator.

As those weeks barreled by, my head was empty of ideas. I’m always sure I’ll never come up with material for my column. I get ready to tell Lelia I can’t possibly do it. Then the universe throws something in my path that starts niggling in my brain. Maybe it’s a meme I saw on Face Book. Maybe there was a piece on the news or via a conversation with a friend. Sentences start flowing through my head, usually at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. By procrastinating, the idea has time to germinate and grow.

Procrastinators gets a bad rap. We’re often accused of trying to avoid the inevitable or being lazy, passive-aggressive, afraid to move forward, unable to make a decision. People who we inconvenience find it arrogant. It signals a message: “I will do what you want but at my own pace.”

As I experience it, procrastination is more like going through the 5 stages of death:

Denial: I don’t want to do this project.

Anger: Why do people expect this work from me?

Bargaining: If I get to read another chapter, I’ll do the chore.

Depression: Geez, now I only have two days until deadline.

Acceptance: Fine. I’ll do it!

I understand this leads to issues like unpaid bills or missed appointments. On the flip side, sometimes doing nothing is best. I’ve often found that if I procrastinate long enough, a problem simply resolves itself. Maybe it wasn’t really a problem in the first place.

I’m not alone in advocating a delay strategy. On Google I found an article with tips on how to be a productive procrastinator. First, do it intentionally. Acknowledge the fact that you are putting off an important task. Next, figure out why you want to put it off. Don’t let yourself feel guilty. Decide what “last minute” means. Is it a week out or the day of? Finally, if you don’t want to tackle a big problem, just do a smaller one for now.

Please don’t show this column to politicians. They procrastinate enough as is.