by David B. Bohl
You probably know what procrastination is, but have you heard about "structured procrastination"? This definition, from Stanford philosophy professor John Perry, casts structured procrastination as something even "productive" people tend to do:
"The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done."
Of course, the problem is that it's still procrastination, and you're still not doing the things that really need to be done.
I'm not convinced that putting things off, even in a structured and seemingly positive way, is really the best way to live.
I believe that productivity and "getting a lot done" are overrated, in fact.
I don't think it matters if we get all of the small, less important tasks done in one day, if we leave the most important things because we'd rather not do them.
Of course there are always things we'd rather not do. That's why we procrastinate.
But finding a better way to procrastinate is not the answer.
The answer is doing the things that need to be done.
That may sound a little simplistic, but I think this as an area where we can really simplify the issues.
The first issue is, there are things to do.
The second issue is, we don't want to do them.
The only solution that really works is to find the most important things, designate them as the most important things ("first things first"), and then do them.
I have never heard anyone talk about how great they felt that they managed to juggle their schedule so that the really important things were all at the bottom, but they had accomplished everything else on their schedule.
What I have heard people talk about is how satisfied they were that they had taken care of some important matter, something they had not wanted to do, but that it was now done and they could focus on other things.
Structuring procrastination doesn't get the major tasks of our lives done.
Only doing those tasks gets them done, and only doing them gives us the satisfaction of having done them. No matter how much time we spend trying to balance our lives, if we're constantly avoiding doing the things that really matter, we're not going to feel balanced or comfortable.
While putting things off may feel good at the time, it always makes us feel worse in the long run.
To end your own procrastination and get the important things done,
* Learn to tell what's important and what's just urgent and beckoning your attention.
* Make a list of the most important things you need to do.
* Do at least one of those things each day.
David B. Bohl may be contacted at http://www.slowdownfast.com email@example.com
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