Productive Procrastination

productiveI’m writing to you again on a plane this week. This time, I’m headed to Cincinnati to give a talk.

I’m exciting because it’s some new material along with some new ways to present some ideas, based on the audience. Which, I find, makes all the difference.

Know your audience. Know what you want them to be able to do when you ride off into the sunset. Shape everything from there and you’re on the path to success.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

Today, I want to share a procrastination productivity tip that I stumbled on while preparing for this talk.

Creating a new talk is exciting. And fun.

But also hard work.

Which makes it a great candidate for procrastination.

This seems to be true of all things that are important, but not yet urgent.

And it’s at that intersection where I inadvertently crossed some wires with good results.

Here’s what happened.

Preparing for this talk was #1 on my important project list. Right below it was another project I’m working on. It’s important too, but it has a longer timeframe for completion (less urgent).

A couple of weeks ago, I put this #2 task at the top of the list. I wanted to hit a certain milestone before I went full on to tackle project #1 (the Cincinnati talk).

That’s when things got a little weird.

Task #2 was now my top priority. And like all important tasks that aren’t urgent, it was a great candidate for procrastination.

So I did just that. I procrastinated.

Which I felt bad about. But the way I tricked myself into feeling better about putting off work on task #2 was…by doing task #1.

How could I argue with that?

I’m being productive, after all. I’m working on something important. It’s not what I had deemed the most important thing to be working on, but it was still important.

Heck it was just at the top of the list. Who am I to beat myself up over that?

I’m not watching TV or napping or meandering around Facebook. I’m productive on something important.

Wait a minute…I’m being productive, but also procrastinating…?

I’m working on the task that was just at the top of my list. But I’m only working on it because it is now not at the top of my list. Because I want to avoid the task that is currently at the top of my list.

Crazy confusing or mystical and magical?

I don’t know. All I know is that this productive procrastination helped me get one of my top priority projects done.

Will it work for you? I don’t know.

Will it work for me next time around? I don’t know.

What I do know is that if I find a way to limit my options to productive choices, something good seems bound to happen. I should be able to repeat that in some fashion.

It’s also another reminder that we humans can be fickle. It’s always worth looking for new ways to hack the system.

Try changing the order of your priorities and see if it stimulates any interesting results.

Let me know what you find out!