“It’s Not Considered Procrastination When It’s Being Prudent”

Remember in high school or college when we got a term paper or class project assigned the first week of class – that accounted for a large portion of our grade but wasn’t due for several more week? No problem, we set it aside for awhile. 

Eventually, we had to face that issue and do something about it – and do a good enough job to get a worthwhile grade for our effort and protect our overall grade for the class. The same is true when we have a deadline for submitting a proposal (self-imposed, agreed to, or stipulated) or a deadline for submitting a funding request for consideration and approval.

Sometimes we push something aside or ignore it for a time because we aren’t sure how to deal with it aren’t sure that we have the correct answers yet, don’t want to make a mistake by doing it too quickly, or really don’t have a clue how we want to proceed. Sometimes we are so interested in doing the perfect job that we just can’t get started for fear of messing up.

Regardless of what we call it or how we rationalize it to ourselves or others, we are talking about procrastination. Many people will tell us how procrastination is not good for us and that we just need to face whatever it is that is causing us to proceed slowly and to get over it – and on with it.

Possibly – it being just the second day of the year – being more of a go-getter and being less of someone who tends to procrastinate or put things off until they become super-urgent is something we have vowed to do as a new year’s resolution. But hold on for a moment.

Hold on? Wait? That sounds fine with us. After all, that’s what procrastination is all about. Put something off as long as we can. Rather than being something we need to recover from, it might actually be good.

There is a prudent side to procrastination – as long as worry, anxiety, and other emotional issues don’t accompany our putting something off for a while. It’s not that we are ignoring something that is possibly unpleasant because we just don’t want to do it. We are giving ourselves time – and permission – to do a good job.

We should go ahead and get started on a task as soon as we learn about it – jot down some ideas, create a working outline, sketch out a basic framework, and maybe even write a very rough draft – and then set it aside. Think about it from time-to-time. Revisit and re-read what we have started, adding to, correcting, deleting, or even starting over with a new version. This gives us time to grow into our finished product – paper, report, presentation, grant proposal, or whatever it might be – and to let our subconscious help us fill in the details while we are away from it.

By starting our project and then setting it aside for a time, coming back to it again and again and working on it, we are growing into the final product and making it the best possible. Rather than just producing something quickly that might be a good effort and might do the job, what we end up with after this process of allowing our ideas to gel and age generally will be a much better reflection on what we want to say and hand in or present.

When done for the right reasons, procrastination can be quite beneficial.

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