It has taken me a while, but I have finally come back to the topic of procrastination. In the surveys for my latest Efficient Librarian workshop, several participants cite procrastination as a big productivity barrier. After presenting the workshop, a few thoughts on the topic came to mind.
In Chapter One of Getting Things Done, David Allen wrote about “Why Things are on Your Mind.” In that section, he lists three reasons. Any of these three in my opinion can become sources of procrastination. Let’s look at them.
Lack of Clarity on the Intended Outcome – If we don’t have a clear outcome in mind, there will be little energy to do the work and thus procrastination will set in.
Haven’t Decided on the Next Physical Action Step – Often we don’t have the time to think clearly about our next actions. Without pre-planned simple physical actions, it is easy to put off progress and procrastinate.
Don’t Have a Trusted System to Store Reminders – It is easy to procrastinate when you have forgotten the goals and actions previously decided. With life moving quickly, the lack of a trusted system leads us to procrastinate on important items as we chase the latest and loudest.
One final thought on procrastination. Even if we have clarity on the outcome, the next physical action decided and placed in our trusted system, we still may not do anything if one more detail is lacking: passion. Quite simply, if we are no longer fired up by the purpose of the project then procrastination becomes the easy default. Sometimes a project that inspired us in the past is only hanging on because of an internal sense of obligation to it. Feel free to let those projects go.
Ultimately, the good news is that once we have resolved the three reasons listed above, procrastination quickly dissolves to be replaced by purposeful action and energy. So, what are you procrastinating about today? Best not to put it off until tomorrow.