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Procrastination: Friend or Foe

It took me almost 6 months to write this. Then, a month to edit…Don’t you love irony?

However, I think procrastination gets a bad rap considering the benefits it can have. Did she say “benefits”?

Yes, I did. Wait, how is procrastination a benefit?

Let’s not wait a moment longer. Let’s begin with definitions. First, there are a few definitions that could lead us to believe the negative aspects of procrastination.

Merriam-Webster has a definition that definitely made me feel guilty:

to put off intentionally and habitually; to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

But then, Oxford and Cambridge made me feel a little better. According to their definitions, a delay doesn’t mean “game over”.

the action of delaying or postponing something, and
– to delay doing something

Let’s start with an obvious example of the bold exercise of procrastinating, one with which I’m all too familiar.

As a business-owner, a website is something most of us consider in order to drive traffic and more business our way. But the size of the project can be overwhelming, and so, we delay. You know, a delay in a bad way that validates that procrastination has a negative connotation.

What could be the cost of delaying this website project? The cost of procrastination is the lost opportunity of not being found on the internet. I may be crazy, but I also think that the worst kind of statistic is the unquantifiable amount of how much business is lost by not being searchable and discoverable on the internet.

When you consider the potential cost of a lost opportunity, you return to the idea of getting it done. But it’s still an overwhelming idea and a potentially huge project. But there is a way to deal with the overwhelming part, AKA the thing that leads us to work against our own best interest.

You don’t habitually put off this project according to the first definition listed above. Instead, choose the more positive second definition. Delaying the project doesn’t mean it’ll never get done. And, in the delay of the overall goal of finishing the project, search for the solution you need to get the project done.

What’s one reason that makes this project overwhelming? The idea that you have to do it alone! All those tasks, all that responsibility, it’s a whirlwind of anxiety that builds up a wall of resistance, as described in the first definition.

You don’t have to do it alone. You have control over the delay, you have the power over postponement.

What are the some of the solutions we have control over? We could hire a website expert to assist with some of the mechanical tasks. A professional has the skills necessary to take your vision and to organize and prioritize the project. All of a sudden, that thing you’ve been avoiding is moving along.

With the help of an expert, you can then execute on key tasks such as robust call-to-action tactics, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, a comprehensive products/services summary, credible blog posts, as an example.

This task list demonstrates expertise and credibility that will attract your target market. Feels like control, feels like something is getting it done.

What happens if you can’t afford to hire someone? It’s a catch 22, isn’t it? We have to build our business to make money to reinvest back into our business, but we have to implement marketing strategies to build our business to make the money to reinvest.

We could get too busy, too busy making excuses. And those excuses bring us back to the negative, inappropriate definition of procrastination. Oh no, we were doing so well!

Excuses don’t affect anyone but ourselves, but let’s be careful about complaining. No one likes a complainer when it’s something within our control of accomplishment.

Now, what have you been waiting for. Let’s get excited how procrastination can work in your favor. It’s not a coincidence that it’s easier and shorter to explain.

One of my mantras has always been “Procrastination is a time management strategy.” What do I mean?

Let’s imagine we have to prepare for a very important meeting or project, it’s a week away. We know what we have to do; we know the date and time of the meeting. Time is of the essence. If you were to leave it until the last day, then yes, we’re guilty of procrastination. Or are we?

Procrastination doesn’t take into account that one must plan, prepare and prioritize to complete a task. The key word is PRIORITIZE. Just because you’re putting off something, doesn’t mean you’re procrastinating.

Maybe you’re pondering…?

One thing I’ve found about my approach is that when I attack a task, sometimes I need a break to let the creative juices flow, to present another perspective. This gives time to create and edit along the way. It’s called PROGRESS. Have you ever gotten the advice to “sleep on it” when you’re unsure about how to deal with an issue?

This is no different, except we can call that Positive Procrastination!

Rushing to finish is stressful, not to mention overwhelming. And, we already know where that can lead. But, if you start in phases, it gives you time to review and edit and triple check your work. Starting doesn’t always mean finishing.

Starting means planning on how to have the best finished product.

Procrastinate away as long as you know how to manage your time and the deadline.