I’ve realized something about myself. I’m a Productive Procrastinator.
I wasn’t always like this. I used to just be a procrastinator when I was younger. And then I hit my stride in early adulthood and become productive. My procrastinating ways had somehow disappeared. I never questioned how it happened, I just sailed through my early professional years and enjoyed the productivity that was happening.
Then I became a mom for the first time. I don’t really remember what happened…it’s all a bit hazy. And now, with two kids, working from home most of the time? I’ve become a Productive Procrastinator.
Are you a productive procrastinator too? Answer these questions:
- Do you start the day with a really long to-do list?
- Do you regularly check off a large number of those items?
- Do you ignore some of the items on the list that are probably pretty important and timely?
- Do you complete tasks that are important, but not necessarily the biggest priority?
- Do you ignore the fact that there may be actual priorities and go for the tasks on the list that look most interesting, fun, or just plain easy?
- Do you start the next day’s to-do list with a handful of items from the previous day?
- Have some of the items on your to-do list been on the to-do list for days? Maybe weeks?
If you answered yes to more than half of these questions, you might also be a Productive Procrastinator.
(Keep in mind that’s not a real test- I made it up!)
But in all seriousness, this is my life these days. I am a hard worker, and I’m pretty productive. I sneak in work during the day when my preschooler is at school and while my little guy is napping. I do more work during little-guy nap # 2 (AKA TV time for my older son) and I get back to work at about 7:30PM when my kiddos go to bed.
I’m definitely of guilty of being on my phone and/or computer during the day doing work. In fact, as I’m typing this, it’s the end of the day, my kiddos are winding down and I’m working again. So I know that no one would call me lazy or say that I’m not a hard worker. Some might actually say I work too much! (Sometimes I agree, but only because I do a lot of work when I feel like I should be in mom-mode.)
I’ve realized though, that even with all of this work I’m putting in, there are often a few tasks I’m putting off. Like this blog post.
It’s Friday. It’s Saturday. This will go live on Monday. For some of you, you may be thinking that’s plenty of time. And while it is- I do still have time to get it done, it’s also not how I prefer to operate.
This blog post actually been on my list since Monday (my goal is to have these done a week ahead of time), so I’ve put it off all week. I’ve procrastinated. But I’ve also been really productive in other ways.
I’ve been taking a blogging course online and I’m flying through that- it’s been really great, but is it the biggest priority? Probably not. But every day I make sure to spend some time on it. I make it a priority. So this is a hard spot to be in, I think- you’re really productive in some areas of life or work, and yet there are some tasks, jobs or things you should probably have already done.
I realized this today as I moved “write letters to kids” to tomorrow’s list. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for at least a week (okay two weeks…maybe three). And it was actually on a list at least two months ago. After moving it for who knows how long, I must have forgotten to write it down for the next day and so it disappeared (yep, I’m old school and write things down).
And then I remembered again and it’s been moved day-to-day for a while now. This is a task that is personal in nature- no one is waiting for this to be done except me and I think that’s why it keeps getting moved. It becomes much less of a priority when there are other tasks that seem more productive. But, these are letters I write to my kids about life, how I’m feeling, why I love them and more, and this should be a priority.
So, here I am, a Productive Procrastinator. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, but then you need to know what you’re going to do about it.
[bctt tweet=”So, here I am, a Productive Procrastinator. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, but then you need to know what you’re going to do about it.” username=”GetMomBalanced”]
So here’s what I’m going to do:
- Every day I’m still going to start with my massive to-do list
- I’m then going to highlight the things that I am committing to getting done that day, but really focusing on the tasks I’m most likely to avoid.
- Thankfully I know myself well enough to predict which tasks I’m likely to put off. If you’re not sure and you already use to-do lists, check back to your previous ones and see which tasks you don’t complete. If you don’t save these lists, hang onto them for a few days and see if any patterns emerge.
- I’m going to decide when I’ll do those tasks: nap 1, nap 2 or after bedtime.
- I’ll then look at the next most important tasks and divide those up into those time frames as well, being realistic about how much time I have.
- The rest of the list I’ll try to sneak in where I can, or save for the end of the day when hopefully I’ve tackled the other stuff.
If, at the end of the day there are items left over, I’ll move them to the next day, but hopefully these will be ones that were not time-sensitive or more of a priority so that I don’t end up finishing something close to the deadline.
I’ve created a full-page organizer that outlines this- I’m going to use it and you can download it if you want to give it a try. You can choose which times of the day you’re doing to do your tasks in, but I’ve organized it to be morning, afternoon, and evening. Since I work mostly from home and have consistent and distinct pockets of time, this is pretty straightforward for me.
If you have a more traditional 8-5 type of day, commit to when you’ll work on tasks according to the clock.
Obviously in all of this we need to have flexibility because life or other work can get in the way. And if you don’t get to a task that you prioritized then of course you can move it to the next day and try again. The idea is that you’re making an effort ahead of time to decide what’s important and then take steps to commit to when you’ll get it accomplished. This is already much more than I do on a regular basis- right now I create a long list and I look at it constantly to see what’s next. I think this process will save time too because I’ll have decided what I’m working on and when. And hopefully I can end my cycle of productive procrastination.
I do know that I won’t get everything done every day- I make long daily lists, so on my to-do list I’ve added a section at the bottom for what I’m doing to try again the next day. This way I can see if there are patterns of what I’m not accomplishing but also keep track of those tasks so I don’t forget about them completely.
If you feel that you’re also a Productive Procrastinator, know that you’re not alone and that there is support. You might want to download the organizer and give it a try.
The full-page organizer will help you go from a big to-do list to a more focused and prioritized plan for the day.
Let me know how it’s going!