Positive procrastination: when it pays to delay

procrastinateI’m working on my ability to procrastinate. I know what you’re thinking: why would you want to procrastinate? But this is no ordinary procrastination, this is positive procrastination. Positive procrastination is all about doing stuff other than what you should be doing. Procrastination on its own is about doing nothing or very little.

Part of my problem is I’m very proactive. Great problem to have, eh? And I’d agree, except sometimes it can take the pleasure out of things. I have my mother to thank for being proactive (thanks mum :)) and trust me, I wouldn’t change this, but I am tweaking it. You see, I tend to get the worst stuff out of the way, then it’s done and gone. Great! Problem is, once I’ve done the worst thing, the thing I look forward to the least, something else on my list takes its place. So then I do that. And, you’ve guessed it, something else, something I don’t want to do, takes its place. Now at some point I’ll get to something I like because my ‘to do lists’ aren’t all misery, but this can take a while because how I feel about the jobs on a list is relative, and so something might be appealing whilst there is something less appealing to do. For example, you might really feel like cleaning your bathroom, ‘Yes that really needs doing, I should do that first’, whilst you know you have your tax return to do (and which you really can’t be bothered or don’t want to do). If you managed to motivate and dedicate yourself to doing your tax return, cleaning the bathroom suddenly stops holding such allure.

So now I’m embracing the strength of avoidance. When I’ve got something I really don’t want to (usually involving my accounts) I purposely put it off, I resist the temptation to get it out the way (which is not hard to resist really!) and get on with all the other things on my list which seem so much more interesting. I blast through these happily (because they give me a reason to avoid my accounts) and tick them off. What’s funny is that by the time I get to the end I’m more interested in doing my accounts knowing this is the one and only thing that really needs doing. When I’ve done them, I’ve done everything I need to!

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‘Sonia Gill is a founder and director of Heads Up Limited, an education leadership consultancy which specialises in supporting schools become outstanding. Their training and coaching is recommended by the 100s of school leaders she has worked with. To find out more visit www.ukheadsup.com.’

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