Practice creative procrastination

by Lisa Rothstein on 07/10/2011

, creative? Now there’s a reframe.

I got this concept from a recent post by personal development eminence grise Brian Tracy.

Tracy points out that procrastination isn’t a a problem because we put things off, but because we choose to put off the wrong things. We delay what matters most in the long term for the merely urgent that’s under our noses right now.

And this applies to play as well as to work. We procrastinate true, restorative and healthy recreation, like naps,  golf, a good book and even sex (!!!)  for low-level activities that merely kill time, like endless TV and Facebook marathons.

And for the multi-talented person, the effects are devastating. Which of your talents is being ignored and deferred, in favor of something you don’t even care about?

We may not consciously choose to do this, but we are choosing just the same. After all, someone is making these decisions about how you spend your time. If not you, who?

Since human nature is to procrastinate, reasons Tracy, what if you put that tendency to use? Choose to procrastinate creatively.

I’ve started doing this with my addiction to online learning such as teleseminars. Instead of feeling I have to be on every one, I’ve started not opting in and even unsubscribing from lists. I’ve decided to put off consuming more information for the time being. And I can safely do this, because it’s an iron-clad guarantee that there will always new material like this coming down the pike. It’ll be there for me when I want it.

Same goes for social media. It’s an ever-flowing stream…and if you try to keep up with it constantly your time gets swept away with all the other flotsam and jetsam you’ll find floating around in it. Better to procrastinate on that, and get some important things done in the meantime. You can always dip your toe in the river later.

And TV? That’s what DVRs are for — creative procrastinating. And this way you can limit your viewing to shows you enjoy, rather than be a slave to “what’s on.”

What about my “favorite” recreational activity, worry? It’s definitely a valuable life skill to be able put that off. Think Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind: “I can’t think about that now…I’ll think about it tomorrow” allowed her to focus on important things like escaping burning cities and extracting loans from rakish war profiteers.

Creative procrastination seems like good psychology to me. It’s sort of like a diet. It’s not that you can’t EVER have chocolate cake ever again (which only makes you want it more) but that you’re just not choosing to have it right now.

Repeat after me: “I can always have that/do that/watch that/worry about that later.”  If the mood passes in the meantime, and it never gets had/done/watched/worried about, chances are your life won’t suffer much. It may very well improve.

Activity: Think of some low-value activities that you do a lot of and that you could choose to creatively put off. Is it time on Twitter, or gossipy phone calls with friends, or just simple brooding? Decide you’ll procrastinate on it the next time it comes up. See if the sky falls.

And if procrastination on important things — such as activities that allow you to use or enjoy your talents — is a problem, pick up my ebook Overcoming Procrastination for Multi-Talented People: How To Keep Too Many Ideas Keep You From Getting Anything Done on Samshwords for Kindle, nook, .pdf and more — all for the un-put-offable price of $1.99.

Want to re-publish this article? Go for it – just include the author’s name, a link to this original post and the following text blurb:
Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine Covelli September 27, 2011 at 2:40 am

Aren’t there too many “keep”s in your title, so that this creates a double negative, and therefore a possitive? How to keep x keep (continue) you from doing y? How to keep it going…


Love the articles!

Christine Covelli September 27, 2011 at 2:52 am

Shouldn’t there be a “not” in there? How not to keep… or… not keep you from getting things done?Aren’t you trying to say ‘How to keep too many things from keeping you from getting things done’? Ironically, maybe it’s better to let go of ‘keep’… =)

Still, I love your ideas and suggestions. They are most astute and effective!

Christine Covelli September 27, 2011 at 2:54 am

Sorry to hog this comment thread, but I can’t get in to correct my typos! =)

Lisa Rothstein September 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

You’re probably right. Or not wrong. Not. 🙂

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