Some people will tell us that procrastination is not good and that we should avoid it. Even when something is unpleasant, they say, we should just get right to it, knock it out the best we can, and move on to something else.
People have different personalities, and procrastination is a trait that many people have. Just saying not to do it may not really be practical. For instance, there is good evidence that putting something off a reasonable amount of time may actually give us more time to prepare a proper response. This is not a sloppy approach but a diligent one where our subconscious works on a issue that we have begun while will set it aside and work on something else.
There are times when we have an issue we are facing when we draw a blank – nothing seems to come to mind that would be a good solution or approach. So, we set it aside, go work on something else, or complete a totally unrelated activity like cutting the grass. While we seem to have said that the project we put off is not that important or too difficult for us to conquer, we actually have said that we just needed a little more incubation time for a suitable response to mature.
Very often, we will get an idea after a period of inactivity passes or when we concentrate on another issue entirely. For some reason, we seem to be sharper and more focused when we come back to something that we set aside earlier. The amount of time that we are away is immaterial – within reason. It might be a few minutes, an hour, or a day or two. The point is that we approach it fresher when we return and may have subconsciously thought of a solution or way of approaching an issue while we were directly focused on it.
We don’t always have the same amount of time to walk away from an issue before returning to it. If we are writing a grant proposal that is due in 7-10 days for instance, we have a few days to work with in starting and stopping or delaying our work on the project. If a client is expecting a proposal from us in 48 hours because that is what we promised or that is what they requested, then we have a much more abbreviated time in which to start and stop our activity.
One thing is clear, regardless of what the project is or how much time we think we have to work with before preparing our response or submitting it, we may physically run out of time. Something that is due in 30 days cannot be submitted on the 31st day. Something due by the end of the month can’t run over into the following month.
In the case of today, something that has to be dated or completed in 2016 cannot be put off until tomorrow – especially when the computer time and date stamps it such as with an email or saved document. In a few hours, it will be 2017, and that automatically terminates any activity that needed to be done during 2016.