Frameworks & Finance

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Is procrastination really bad?

Feb 18, 2022

Is it ironic I put this one off for a couple of weeks?


At some level, we've all struggled with procrastination. We know what we need to do, but we put off doing it.

But often, we mislabel what procrastination actually is.

So what is procrastination? tells me it is "the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention."

The reality of our lives is that we have important things to do and non-important things to do. We're pretty good at identifying the difference, but we still treat all of them as important.

Bad procrastination is when we procrastinate on important things in a way that affects the product or the outcome. It's when we have an undesired consequence for our delay.

Good procrastination is when we procrastinate on nonimportant things that are distracting us from the important things.

When you clean the house instead of working on the big presentation? Bad procrastination.

When you put off cleaning the house to work on the big presentation? Good procrastination.

We're hard on ourselves for any type of procrastination and that is something I think we need to change. The reality is, despite our expectations, we'll never be perfect.

Our goal should be to focus on delivering on our important items and give ourselves a break on the rest. I actually talk about this concept in my most recent podcast, which you can listen to here.

How to combat bad procrastination

With that said, let's get practical. What are some ways to combat bad procrastination?

First, think in this 3 part framework:

  1. Understand your goals

  2. Prioritize your tasks

  3. Think next action

When we know the goal and priority, it comes down to understanding what we need to do next. When we understand the next step, no matter how small, it allows us to come to action quicker.

Maybe that step is making a phone call or googling something. Just write down that step and then work through each subsequent step.

Then, just do it. Make the action so small that it's easy and almost stupid to not do.

Other ways to combat procrastination include:

  1. "Eat the frog" or do the worst first

  2. Seeking outside accountability

  3. Changing your environment

  4. Get away from distractions

  5. Setting deadlines

There are many, many more. I'm curious: how have you combated distraction in your life?


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