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July 21, 2010 / Tony Arena

4 GREAT Habits of Highly-Effective and Productive PROCRASTINATORS!

“Two minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom!” –Iron Maiden lyrics

If you were like me in University, you probably had a scenario such as the following:

Your professor presented you at the beginning of the semester with a paper which was due the last week of the semester. You waited and waited. You spent evenings when you should have been working on the assignment at the campus pub. You went to parties. You slept late. Every day you said, “Tomorrow.” Or, “Next week!” And you waited until two nights before the paper was due to get started…

Perhaps it was a test you’d known about for a month. Instead of studying a little bit every day, you didn’t open a book at all. Then right before, you pulled an all-nighter, cramming away until the sun came up!

That’s what I did and things always turned out very well indeed!

Which begs the question: For certain people is there a method to the madness of procrastinating?

Of course it goes without saying that as mature, honest and ethical businesspeople we are not speaking of the type of procrastination which entails spending time with friends consuming alcohol while a client believes we are hard at work (it’s important to bill accordingly!), or putting off assignments for months on end.

My answer to the question, at least for myself, and maybe for you too, is an emphatic YES! For certain people, procrastination can be a blessing in disguise!

Effective Procrastinators:

1) Don’t begin on a whim, impulsively, instinctively or wildly.

Effective procrastinators sit back, contemplate, weigh, deduce and plan ahead! They know that in order to complete an assignment in a quality manner, planning is of the essence! Planning, strategizing, vision, creativity, mental-readiness and the proper frame of mind can all take time!

2) Don’t force inspiration to strike, they patiently wait for great ideas to spring to mind.

As a writer I can tell you frankly: force me to sit down and write something and I’ll draw a blank faster than Jesse James drew his six-shooter. Inspiration is never born in a vaccum. It comes from cues and stimuli in the world around. Give me an assignment and you’ll wait until I put a leash on my dog, go for a walk with her in the hills, desert and forests around our home. I’ll smell the flowers, gaze at trees, find pictures in the clouds and admire all of the beauty that God put on this earth. I’ll listen to some music. I’ll take my lovely wife out to dinner. and then, perhaps, I’ll be ready to start!

3) Thrive under pressure!

There is a certain type of personality that thrives under pressure. I am one of them. Sure there is that initial moment of panic when you look at the clock and/or the calendar and see that a deadline is approaching. But the panic quickly passes as you gather your wits. The work is then fueled by adrenalyne, persistence, energy, desire, the thought of attaining a goal, and of course…coffee. It is the drive and motivation which for some can only come from performance under pressure.

4) They reject the quote “Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.” (George Claude Lorimer) and subscribe to the quote “The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” (Bertrand Russell)

Effective procrastinators realize that putting things off doesn’t necessarily make things harder. Done strategically, it can make things easier in fact. Waiting for “wits to grow sharper,” as Bertrand Russell so elegantly states, is what makes the success inherent in procrastination possible!

Procrastination for procrastination’s sake is a silly exercise in folly! But procrastination, when that procrastination involves planning, thought and waiting for that magical inspiration to strike is another thing entirely!

Please excuse me, as I part from you now. I have a project which is due in about eight hours time. Not that I’ll be starting now, of course. You know…the dog and the walk. The trees and the clouds. The moon and the fresh air.

Then I’ll begin!

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Leave a Comment
  1. Mr. Google / Jul 22 2010 6:14 pm


    Well written and poignant for about 90% of the world’s population. I fall within that 90% somewhere but have learned to write down ideas and record sources while waiting for the last minute to do something. This helps me still produce quality work by eliminating some leg work and making time for creative inspiration.

    “Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
    – Napoleon Bonaparte


  1. 4 GREAT Habits of Highly-Effective and Productive PROCRASTINATORS! | My Own Business – Sydney

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