I’m sitting on my back porch today enjoying lunch surrounded by what sounds like a tropical aviary – ahhh, the benefits of a home office. I brought with me some rich lunchtime reading material, “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, one of my all-time favorite books.
I randomly flip it open to the section “Practice Productive Procrastination.” I swear it’s true! (Just two days ago I posted a blog piece on being frustrated with my procrastination.) This, naturally, piqued my interest…giving me hope and maybe validation in support of a personally plaguing condition.
“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” – Jessica Hische
Ok. I’m really not sure I can convince my husband that I should sit daydreaming all day long. “Trust me, baby, it’s good for my business.” Or go trail running and never come back. Or curl up in the hammock with my Labrador, Hendrix. “Bye honey. Have a good day! – hours pass – Back already? Wow, I’ve had a great day, how about you?” That would go over splendidly in my house.
Austin offers up “It’s the side projects that really take off. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.”
I completely relate.
When I started my business four years ago, that’s how it began. I just started doing the kind of work that I love to do – the kind of things I would do whether I got paid or not. And at first, I didn’t – offering my services pro bono to a key organization or two. Before long, my business pipeline was full (yes, with paying clients), and I’ve never looked back.
I’ve since sharpened the focus of my work, honing my niche and services more and more around what feels ideal and fun for me. For it’s in this space that I’m my most true, authentic self. And I am concerned far less with what others think, how ‘perfect’ the result is, or how ‘good I am.’ Here, I lead with natural instincts and tap into my skills, strengths, and passion. Isn’t that what play is?
This sounds so simple and straightforward. But its simplicity is its complexity. Every day, I have to be conscious and purposeful with this, otherwise I can get ‘wrapped’ quickly. Client priorities and deadlines build tension. I over-think and analyze things. I work and drive too hard.
To help combat that tendency, I have a few ‘structures’ and people who help hold me accountable to play, fun, and creativity…to procrastinating and finding joy in those side projects and hobbies. For example, I keep my guitar in my office. Part of my desk is covered with art supplies and funky objects that inspire me. I’ll spontaneously go for a run or workout. My son is a great instigator too and has been known to drag me out to play basketball mid-day.
It’s been said, “When I get busy, I get stupid.” Isn’t that the truth! When I find myself in overdrive, my performance actually goes down. I make careless mistakes. I send emails I wish I never sent.
Can you relate?
I was on a trail walk the other day with my daughter and she commented that it was boring. I smiled and thought to myself, “Exactly. It’s boring. That’s what is so beautiful about it.” For me, getting in the woods – and doing anything – is a complete escape. I take in the smells, sounds, textures, the peace. And it becomes a meditation…melting tensions, dissolving barriers, and creating flow. Boring? Bring it.
As Austin says, “Take time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where it’s going to lead you.”
So, let us hear about your wandering and wondering. How do you practice productive procrastination?