The Procrastitivity Zone

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Sometimes I think procrastination gets a bad rap. Most articles I’ve read (and written) focus on the negative consequences of delaying a task or project. They also talk about how we trick ourselves into feeling productive by accomplishing one thing while we’re delaying doing another. I call that procrastitivity. And I don’t think it’s always a bad thing.

Procrastitivity = Procrastination + Productivity

(I made it up… but if you Google it, you’ll see I’m far from the only one with the same idea!)

When and why do we procrastinate?

  • We’re not clear on our priorities and goals.
  • We expect the task to be unpleasant.
  • We don’t really know how to do it.
  • We haven’t broken the project down into smaller steps that seem more doable.
  • What we’ve already completed is good enough, but we’re wasting time trying to make it perfect.

What are some benefits of procrastitivity?

  • You get other things done!
  • Getting other things done – clearing the decks, so to speak – may, in fact, clear your mind for facing the important task you’ve been avoiding. And finishing something can give you momentum to keep going.
  • You buy some time to re-evaluate:
    • Do you need more information?
    • Do you need help?
    • Are you the right person to do the task?
    • Did you say Yes when you wanted to just say No?

The Procrastitivity Zone

So, when is it OK, and when is it unwise to procrastinate productively?

Well…it depends…

It is unwise to procrastinate when the thing you need to do is important and you’re running out of time to do it.

It’s OK, and possibly even beneficial, to procrastinate when you have plenty of time left, and other things to do that are also important or enjoyable.

Right?

Click to view larger image.

Here is a chart that will help you visualize when it is OK to procrastinate, and when it’s best to focus on the important and urgent task at hand.

Do you procrastinate productively…or not so much?

What is your favorite form of procrastitivity?

Please share with us in the comments below!

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Copyright 2019 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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Comments

  1. I love this chart! We clearly share some brain function, Hazel:) I agree that jumping onto the things that are not most important can be a mistake. I think sometimes items that are sitting in the Procrastivity Zone periodically disappear all together! Either the need goes away, the situation changes, someone else steps up to handle the task, etc. A low-level “wait and see” can be the best course of action in these situations. Now, I wonder what you and I will come up with next?

  2. I just returned from the ICD conference in Orlando, and there was a session with Dr. Catherine Roster and Dr. Joe Ferrari on procrastination, clutter, and decision-making. A few ideas from their presentation that you might like:

    – The first technology that encouraged procrastination was in 1956. It was the snooze button.

    – Indecision/procrastination is 47% genetically-based and 53% learned

    – Authoritarian parenting style (mostly because of Dad’s, but not Mom’s can cause this too) often result in having children that become procrastinators

    In general, I’m not a procrastinator. However, I do it at times, especially when I need more time to mull something over that I need to write or create. Sometimes getting outside to do some weeding or walking is what I need to help me focus on my work. Then sometimes I don’t feel like pushing myself, because I push myself a lot. And at those times, I indulge in not doing, which is a form of procrastination. Both of these I see as valuable and what you’ve so beautifully termed, procrastitivity.

  3. Procrastitivity, what a cool concept! Sometimes, when I’m working on something difficult, it helps to put the task away and let it percolate in the back of my mind while I do something else. Procrastitivity is a great term for what’s happening there!

  4. I love this expression: procrastitivity. I do it all the time. I get lots of things done while delaying or procrastinating the task that I’m truly supposed to be doing. However, I eventually get around to doing the thing I have postponed well before its due date. Sometimes, I just feel like not doing the thing that is on the top of the list (or the thing that is most important to others). Now I know what to call this tendency of mine. Thanks!

  5. How did I miss this post back in 2019? I’m such a good procrastitivityist!

    I definitely accomplish so many productive stuff — filing, blog research, responding to emails from people whom I’d otherwise avoid. Because I have a fear of mediocrity, and as much as I love writing, I avoid writing presentations until there’s literally nothing else I could do except climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, just to fight that feeling that I’ll create something mediocre.

    I’ve never missed a deadline, but sometimes it would be nice to “reward” myself with petty tasks once I’ve accomplished the BIG THING instead of doing it all in the run-up to finally getting the thing done. It’s like you were reading my mind!

  6. Thank you for this post and the wonderful chart. I plan to study it more and likely will come back and reread your article.

    What I really like here is that it can be okay to put things off, procrastinate but I must use discretion. This allows me to enter the Procrastivity Zone and not be too hard on myself which can be unhealthy.

    Be well.

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