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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Get More Done, Procrastinate!

How Are You Doing Engaging in Life?

~Are you spending more time doing things you want to do, or are you frittering your time away with tons of tasks?

~Are you spending more time with people you want to be with, or are you enslaved to completing daily minutia and being responsible?

Me? I get by with a little help-- or nudge-- from my friends. But today I'm wondering, why it's so hard for us enlightened folk to cut free from feeling enslaved by the mundane or habitual activities of life? You'd think saying 'Yes!' to fun, pleasurable or meaningful activities would be easy, but it's not.

We Have a Daily Choice: Go on an Adventure or Dive in to the Mundane

You know how you wake up and your mind goes to that place where you start fixating on the things you need to do today? That's where I was one Saturday when my friend, Deb called to invite me to a 'Happy Bird Day' event at a local park.

As I stared at my computer screen with emails to respond to, I could feel myself ready to take the path of least resistance--stay home and deal with the mundane minutia. But as I opened my mouth to decline the invitation, Deb said, "Sue, it would be an adventure."

Lately, Deb and I have been encouraging each other to say 'Yes!' to going on small adventures. Don't think about it, just say yes and go. So what could I say, but yes. I disengaged my mind from the day's trivia, turned the computer off and got up to get my car keys to join her at the park.

Frankly, I was glad to hear from Deb since I failed to call her on her birthday. (I know-- bad friend!) I was about to call to invite her to do something that day when she called me. So before I hung up, I extended the invitation to do something later in the day to celebrate her birthday.

She hesitated then replied, "Maybe. But I really have all these things I have to do---mow the lawn, pull the weeds, clean the house, and get a load of rocks. I guess I'm procrastinating on those things by going to the North Mountain Park event!"

"No you aren't," I replied. "You're applying effective procrastination."

A Good Technique 'Gone Bad'

The problem with most of us cutting loose to have fun is we learned long ago it was important to overcome procrastination in order to be more responsible getting things done. Mostly that's a good idea.

As adults, we learned in Responsibility 101 to get our work done in a timely fashion we should do our work before we play-- and to eat properly we should eat our vegetables before we eat dessert. We learned the ultimate lesson that in taking a responsible approach to life, the goal is to postpone pleasurable or fun activities until we've taken care of our responsibilities.

Where this good technique goes bad is when we take it too far--we forget life is to be enjoyed and we tie ourselves to a life of drudgery in which we're not really accomplishing anything of substance--we're just being responsible--at least in our minds.

Over time our reasoning can get a little hazy and our daily choices can become less about being responsible and making good choices and more about being stuck in the habitual rut of routine. Being responsible may have gotten us here, but it is no longer the reason we persist in the habits of today.

Effective Procrastination: When Bad Habits 'Go Good'

Let's start with a clean slate--by stopping and starting over-- and I'll show you how to make an effective use of procrastination to reengage in activities of importance and interest in your life.

Think about it--when was the last time you stopped to consciously set life goals for yourself? Has it been a while? What is important for you to have in your life right now? And at the end of your life what do you want to look back and see was part of your life?

Make a list of 10-20 things you want to do or feel you should accomplish in the next 5 years. Write them down. Now choose the three most important. Each day, engage in activities that allow you to incorporate some aspect of moving toward your three most important goals.   

And what about the other 7-17 items on your list? This is where you turn procrastination into a good and effective tool. You effectively procrastinate on things that don't add value to your life by starting each day by working on those 3 things that matter most in your life. When you change your priorities, you change what you engage in each day.

You've heard about the 80-20 rule? Well it applies here too. Eighty percent of what's important to us is found in 20% of our activities. That means, if we can unload 80% of our low value activities we can make time for our high value pursuits.

If your life is being frittered away by activities and tasks that lack value and importance to you, get a little help from your friends to apply effective procrastination in your life. As Helen Keller said, 'Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing.'  Get out there and live!

Where do you need to apply effective procrastination?
What are you fixated on that holds your attention more than you want it to? What is it you think you should get to--housework, yard work, playing video games? What is the never ending job or activity that you automatically move toward?

What do you truly want to make time for in your life?
What is it you really want to put into your life that you just don't have enough time for? Meeting new people, going on adventures, playing games with friends, going for walks with friends, meeting friends for coffee, finding the love of your life?


Jane Guyn said...

What a life affirming message! Thank you! Your joyous voice has always been a blessing to me. It's nice to "hear" it again, albeit in print this time.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Thanks, Jane! I miss seeing you guys. Do you ever get back this way? I loved your piggy video on FB.