Procrastination vs Processing: Making the Cut


What’s the difference between pure procrastination and thoughtful deferral?  More importantly, how can a person tell whether they are putting something off for a “good” reason, or simply out of inertia?

Dissection Exercise: Procrastination vs Processing

A common example of when it’s easier to discern a “good” reason for deferring action is when there’s some additional information needed, which can be easily obtained in the very near future, that will likely have a substantial impact on the course of action.   Note my careful usage of qualifying adjectives and adverbs, in the preceding sentence.

Another common example is the lack of a clear and substantial payoff/priority of the deferred course of action, relative to other, potentially more important and pressing matters.

Then there are the really fuzzy situations, for examples, when the action is deferred due to a lack of clarity around what the action iswhat the underlying considerations are, and/or how the action is to be done.  Here there is room for all sorts of dysfunctional behavior: “shoot-first-let-others-clean-up-the-mess,”  “analysis-paralysis,” “hurry-up-and-wait,” “pass-the-buck,” “steamroller,” “waffle,” “all-i’ve-got-is-a-hammer-so-everything-must-be-a-nail,” and various others.

True, sometimes we want to wait before taking action because we want to “process” the problem, manage the risks, and maximize the outcomes.  What I’ve found is that the more tangible this “processing” is — the more it exists outside of our head in the form of documents, drawings, drafts, mock-ups, prototypes, samples, tests, etc.  the more likely we are to be truly processing the issue, rather than merely justifying our procrastination.

Snip First, then Measure Twice

The wisdom of the carpenter’s credo — “Measure twice, cut once” — works well in theory. In practice, when one is working with an unfamiliar type of material, it’s a good idea to snip off a little piece first, just to see what is involved in cutting it.

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About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on October 22, 2012, in Business, Collaboration, Learning, Life, Productivity, Project Management, Risk Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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