Productive Procrastination

“Action expresses priorities.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi


And no.

I firmly believe in something I like to call “productive procrastination.”

Thanks to Emilie Ogez on Flickr for making this photo available for reuse!

Productive procrastination is about priorities.  It’s also about mindfully multi-tasking. And it can be done.

Productive procrastination is when I clean the shower while writing an article in my head, instead of actually writing the article on the computer. I sort ideas out as I spray and scrub; I consider the key point I want to make while I polish the shower handle.  I “clean” my thinking as I clean the window. I prepare. I pre-write.  It’s better than sitting in front of the blank computer screen contemplating where to begin. (Or surfing Craigslist for stuff I really don’t need.)

Productive procrastination is when I make cookies instead of grade papers. While I am mixing the dry ingredients with the wet, I think about the assignment criteria and what kind of feedback I want to provide to help my students move forward.  I prepare. I pre-write. It’s better than sitting with a stack of papers, wondering where to start, wondering what to say.

Productive procrastination is NOT going to a movie instead of planning the next departmental retreat. It is NOT zoning out in front of HGTV, plotting what color I should paint the bathroom for optimal light, instead of  … all the other things on my to-do list that I need to do.

Is productive procrastination a cop out? An excuse?

Nope! Not if I am actually being mindful. Not if my brain is actually working on something it needs to work on, while I am working on something I don’t. In other words, to a great extent I disagree with this guy.

The key word? “Productive.” When it’s no longer productive, then I need to get to the work that does need to be done; then my to-do list beckons.

What forms of productive procrastination do you participate in? And, ask yourself this: are they really productive?


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