The day after Easter is a pretty fabulous day on my calendar. It is the day that my local grocery store puts Peeps on sale for 75% off. I suppose I use the sale to justify eating those glorious, sugary, terribly unhealthy marshmallow chicks once a year. That’s why I put off buying them until the last minute before they clear off the shelves. Now, doing anything at the last minute makes me a little uneasy, what with being a time management speaker and all, but I’ve found that sometimes a little procrastination doesn’t hurt, especially when you have a good reason. That advice saved me hours of time this week. Allow me to explain:
To Procrastinate or Not to Procrastinate
I have a grant proposal due tomorrow. Not wanting to put it off, I sat down to start it earlier in the week, and immediately became frustrated. Words and ideas just weren’t coming to me. I stared at the blank computer screen, occasionally typing a mangled sentence or two, and then immediately deleting them because they made no sense. I was not at all in the right mindset to conjure up brilliant thoughts and began to realize that writing a 10-page proposal could easily take me all day at this pace. This was torture.
I closed my computer telling myself I would come back to it later, but that didn’t feel right. “I’m procrastinating!” I thought. “I should just do this now and be done with it.” But as the minutes ticked by and my document continued to remain stagnant, I knew I was wasting my time. I would have to give “do it later” a shot. (Besides, NPR said it was OK.)
Coming Back to it Later
Over the next couple of days, I wrote down a few scattered proposal ideas that came to me while doing other things. I woke up on Friday morning feeling inspired and took a look at the ideas I had written. The picture of what I needed to do was all starting to become clear, and I sat down and hammered out 5 solid pages pretty much without stopping. After getting a strong start, doubling that number proved to be no trouble at all.
Had I continued to work on the proposal the first day I tired, I probably would have finished it, but it would have taken hours. I had the luxury of time and needed to step away from the project for a while and come back to it later. Was I procrastinating? Sure. But it ended up working out for the better.
What’s The Point?
The point of this week’s blog is not to say that you should always stop doing things when they become difficult and put them off until later. The point is that sometimes procrastination can be justified. Whether you are waiting to buy your favorite once-a-year sugary snack for a few pennies, or waiting for a spell of writer’s block to pass, there are times when waiting until “later” can pay off. Just don’t make your last minute solution a habit.
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