Procrastination. It’s that damn voice in your head reminding you of all the projects you’ve been wanting to start/continue/finish when you’re trying to find the motivation to do your actual work. Whether it’s a useful desicion making tool or a symptom of neurodivergence, the point remains that we all do it and then usually feel kinda bad about it.
It’s also why I’m reverting to my college days and writing this post the night before it’s due. Oops.
Over the years I’ve discovered two important things about myself
1 – I’m going to procrastinate throughout the process of doing a big task.
2 – I love a ticking clock.
The Pomodoro Technique has been really helpful in the past, but what I’ve found to be really effective is to break my day up with procrastination time after each task or two. The length of procrastination time depends on how long the task(s) took, but typically 15-30 minutes are enough to give me enough of a break to get my shit back together to carry on with the project.
Sometimes it’s nice to just flop on the couch with the cat and play Disco Zoo, but there’s usually enough little stuff around that I
probably have also put off need to do or should be doing for my own *wellbeing*. We’ll call it “productive procrastination”. I’ve sorted them into rough time frames that each item should theoretically take, so next time avoiding answering that email you can find something to do instead that is somewhat useful.
Productive Procrastination Ideas:
Take A Walk
Moving your body is good for you and often is enough of a change in state of being that it helps shift your perspective if you’re stuck on a problem. Lap around the block with or without a dog friend of your choice and get some air and active minutes.
Feeling overwhelmed? Grab a journal or notebook and write down everything that is floating in your head so you don’t have to focus on remembering it anymore. This might end up being a list, a journal entry, doodles, or some fancy lettering of your favorite curse word.
Make An Appointment
When was the last time you went to the dentist? Do you need to get that mole checked out? Maybe it’s time to treat yourself to a spa day. Find their online scheduler or *gasp* make that call and get it on the books.
Take A Shower
I do my best thinking in the bathtub, but when I’m in a hurry a shower will suffice. Remote working makes it easier to not do a whole morning routine, which means that you probably need a shower around the same time you need a break.
Draino your Bath Drain
This could very well be a “Kiwi Problem” but between the amount of hair I shed, the amount of hair the animals shed, and what seems to be the smallest bath drainpipe ever, my tub drain gets backed up fairly frequently. Drainoing the drain is a routine rotating task anyway and might as well knock it out while pondering the finer points of Kubernetes.
Clean up your Computer Desktop & Downloads
If you’re like me, and you probably are more than you want to admit, you save everything to either your downloads or desktop and then leave it to pile up and block your festive Stefon computer background. At the very least, go through and delete the stuff you don’t want to keep anymore and move everything to a “Keep” folder.
Leave a Review
Especially if you are buying things from indie sellers. I am bad about this normally, so I’ve been doing it when I need a brain break. Sometimes you might get a coupon, sometimes you might make a friend, maybe you’ll even make some content for your Instagram.
Make Your Bed
It’s a sign of an adult and it doesn’t take long but it does make a difference when you go in and see that your have a nice looking bed.
Muck Out Your Car
Grab an empty shopping bag and gather those straw wrappers up! For every coffee travel mug you find, you need to give $5 to the charity of your choice.
This comes with the caveat that you pick something to organize that you KNOW isn’t going to turn into an all day event. Instead of reorganizing your entire kitchen, maybe just tackle the utility drawer or fridge door items.
Set a timer and for the next 30 minutes do as much as you can. Tidy, wipe, dishes, Swiffer, whatever. I can usually get the main living area -or- my bathroom under control in this amount of time.
Plan Social Content for the Week
I have a longer post in the works that I will eventually link, but to sum up as briefly as possible: if you have public social media accounts, you should be doing at least a little bit of content planning. Take a half hour and look at the next 7-10 days both on your calendar and NationalDayCalendar and see what you might want to share. You don’t have to create any content… just do the brainstorming.
Put Away Laundry
Ugh. Laundry. It’s always needing to be done. The putting away is the struggle for me, so this is a frequent go to when I’m procrastinating.
Empty your Inbox
This could potentially take longer, so be honest with yourself about how long you have before you dive in. How detailed you go is up to you and how long you want to take. At the minimum, delete your promotions and social sections and any newsletter or sales email over a week old.
Call a Family Member
This is why I’m known as the “Helicopter Child” in my family. I will call my Mom and Oma almost every day in between tasks. I’ll often pair it with getting Starbucks. It does often take longer than 30 minutes… but that quality time is priceless!
I…. I try this without much success, but I feel compelled to mention it because I know a LOT of people have really benefited from guided meditation. There are lots of things on Youtube and different apps to use… idk. What I do instead is put on a Killers playlist and watch the clouds from my balcony and vaguely daydream. I think it serves the same purpose.
Art is good and you should do more of it. Coloring in a coloring book is a start, but there’s something really satisfying about starting from a blank sheet of paper. Abstract shapes are also fun because there’s less pressure to make it look like something, and then you can double up your creativity by coloring them in.
Deep Clean Something
Same with the organizing something, don’t intentionally start deep cleaning something you know is going to take all day. But, you can probably get most of your bathroom done in 45 minutes.
Make a Real Meal or Snack
Even though I work from home, it’s still easy to end up eating like I did in the office; bags of snacks and takeout lunch at my desk. Take the time to make yourself a real plate of food, make it look nice, sit down at the table away from your computer (and phone!), and enjoy it.
Paint Your Nails While Watching an e-Learning video
Also known as: Something kinda frivolous paired with something that is work related. Other alternatives to this include “Sheet Mask & Webinar”, “Truly & Goal Setting”, and the infamous “Networking Lunch” if you’re comfortable doing that as Covid ramps back up.
15 Minute Youtube Workout
Yeah, this a 45 minute process when you include the time it takes to get set up, do the workout, and clean up after. But, it’s a good way to squeeze in a home workout.
Check in with Industry Updates
I’m not sure what you do for a living, but there’s probably a community of thought leaders and some everchanging protocols and best practices involved. Take some time to check in on the current news and hot takes. This is a really good thing to do if you are still working in the office because it is work related research.
Building in time for reading a book. And, I mean “read” not “listen to on Audible”. No shade toward Audiobooks, I love them too, but I will do something while I listen to them as opposed to just sitting and focusing on reading. The act of having a physical book in your hand triggers different parts of your brain.
Honestly, you’re on your own for this since you’re probably either avoiding a really big project or you’re bored. If you have more than an hour you’re trying to delay then I’d suggest going to the grocery store or running some weekend errands.
Ultimately, procrastination doesn’t always have to be unproductive. It can be used both as an escape and a form of task management if you can mitigate the desire to delay something you’re wanting to avoid. By shaking up your routine with some variety of tasks, you may find you can get more done than you expected.
Do you have any “Productive Procrastination” tasks? Join the conversation on my Facebook Page!