Practice Productive Procrastination

Practice Productive Procrastination

I’m sitting on my back porch today enjoying lunch surrounded by what sounds like a tropical aviary – ahhh, theporch 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.

tools of the trade for the Center for Arts and CraftsTo 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?


photo credit: pennstatenews via photopin cc






Paralyzed, But Alive and Wondering

Paralyzed, But Alive and Wondering

paralized getting-unstuck

I have not been able to move – not one square inch – on my social media strategy. I have the most beautiful plan on paper…Really! You would be so impressed. But mostly, it just sits there.

And because I’ve had this condition for quite some time, I’ve given a lot of thought to the “why” and to “how” to overcome my procrastination.

Why my paralysis:

  1. My plan is complex and broad and presents me with tremendous self-applied performance pressure.
  2. I’m putting myself out there on the public stage, so my work must be perfectly brilliant and thought provoking, conveying wisdom and clearly articulated, intelligent thoughts.
  3. My dazzling strategy centers on my writing and posting a blog piece every week. Arrrgh the pressure! (see #2 above) All the other platform postings flow from this piece and from each month’s theme.
  4. With my business, I am it…the sole practitioner. So, when business is rolling (and thankfully it often is), I am really busy and find it hard impossible to make time to write, tweet, and post on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  5. Therefore, about #4, I think: “If I can’t find time to write and be present on these sites, do my prospective clients find the time?” Doubt creeps in regarding the value of planning and executing this strategy. Why write and post these amazing pieces of art and intellect when my target audience is too busy (or doesn’t care) to even read the stuff.

Moving to Action: 

So, I ask myself: “How important is it to me to execute my social media strategy? My short response is “It’s really important…a 10 even!” I have the plan (did I tell you how brilliant it is?). I want to do this. I’m decent at writing. I’ve had good results from it previously (even with what little I’ve done), and many of my colleagues report impressive outcomes (the good ol’ ‘everyone else is doing it’).

How do I get off center and come alive? I’m not really sure, because nothing I’ve attempted has worked. But here’s what I’m going to try starting today:

  • What would it be like if I gave myself a break? Simplify the complex, detailed plan into ‘bite size’ pieces. Instead of the pressure to execute fully and perfectly, be okay with some small, consistent steps.
  • Send “the judge” on vacation.
  • Quit talking about it and do it. Schedule time in realistic increments, like 15–20 minutes.
  • Reframe. I’ve learned a lot from my life experiences and have access to a deep inventory of resources. Think of this as a gift of sharing rich assets with others.
  • Write! Post!
  • Hold myself to it and maybe enroll an accountability partner.
  • Measure and acknowledge how it goes for a week or two.
  • Celebrate!
  • Repeat.
  • And if this doesn’t go well, I can always look to other options, like hiring a ghostwriter or virtual assistant to help me.

I’m getting started today, and we’ll see how it goes. I’m hopeful!

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you – how do you overcome a stall and move into action?