The word procrastination has got a bad rep. But sometimes, you’re better off putting off that task. It’s all about identifying the right time to do something, says Rory Varden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose.
Varden’s idea is well suited for the fast-moving, ever-dynamic world that we find ourselves in. He argues that if you do next week’s task this week, you are leaving yourself open to the risk of changes between now and when that task is due. Those changes might mean you have to do the task all over again; or it was avoidable, but you did it too soon and wasted time today.
His message, in a nutshell, is that being ahead of your deadline and doing tasks in advance isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Success lies in identifying the optimal time to tackle a task:
There’s a big difference in waiting to do something you know should do, but don’t feel like doing, and waiting to do something because now is not the optimal time. Waiting because you don’t feel like it is classic procrastination, and it’s a cause of a mediocre life. Waiting because you’re deciding to procrastinate on purpose can be considered a synonym for patience.
To figure out which tasks you should procrastinate, Varden recommends putting them through a “focus funnel”, which is a series of four serial questions:
- Can I eliminate it?
- Can I automate it?
- Can I delegate it?
- (If the task cannot be eliminated, automated, or delegated) Can it wait until later?
As you answer those questions, you’ll have a better idea of what needs to get done now and what can be put off until later.
How the Most Productive People Procrastinate [Fast Company]