Why procrastination isn’t always a bad thing

Today has been a good day. I woke up feeling focused, hyper-efficient and buzzing with thoughts and ideas just waiting to be turned into clients’ blogs. I only turned Facebook on during designated break times. I checked my emails first thing, at lunchtime and this evening. I hit every deadline I had set myself. I love days like today.

Procrastination can actually help your focusNow, yesterday was a different story. It was as though I had stepped into some alternate reality where I had the focus of a myopic mole. My brain flitted willy-nilly from one thought to another. The only way I can describe the process of forcing a linear thought is ‘wading through treacle’.

Don’t believe me? Here’s how my day went:

7am: Get up to have a shower. Get accosted on the landing by my four-year-old who urgently wants to talk about all manner of exciting things. Chat to him for a while, then stand in bathroom and wonder what it is I’m meant to be doing. Go downstairs to feed the cat (who’s meowing furiously) instead, then come back to the bathroom realising I’m now running 15 minutes’ late.

8am: Make the boys’ breakfast and packed lunch. While making my breakfast, realise the bin could do with emptying. Empty bin and dishwasher, hang out some washing and put more washing on. Finally remember I haven’t eaten my own breakfast, so take a few hurried bites (while scribbling my day’s to-do list) before getting boys ready for school.

9.05am: Chat to friends at school gate, after deciding it’s important to catch up with everyone after my recent time off.

9.23am: Make a cup of tea.

9.28am: Check Facebook and my emails. Reply to most time sensitive messages.

10am: Start making loads of notes about a new product a client wants to promote on their website. Think about the benefits, reasons why this product is better than anything else out there. How is it going to make customers feel?

Fantastic, suddenly the ideas are coming.

10.30am: Answer phone to a friend I haven’t spoken to for weeks. Tell her I can’t talk for long as I have so much to do. An hour later, we finally get off the phone.

11.30am: Respond to an urgent email and send off a web page for client’s approval.

Clock12.05pm: Decide my desk is in danger of disappearing under a paper mountain so do some filing. Put all notes apart from job I’m working on in their numbered files so I can find them easily in the future.

12.30pm: Chat to a client on the phone about a proofreading job I’m doing for him.

12.40pm: Eat lunch, watch rest of Bargain Hunt (my guilty pleasure) while reading my Kindle at the same time, then sweep floor and put another wash load on.

1pm: Make a cup of tea to drink at my desk.

1.10pm: Decide to check emails and Facebook again. While I’m thinking about it, I look at my Mailchimp stats for this week’s newsletter. Notice a good upturn after the quiet Easter holidays, which is great.

1.30pm: Read lots of articles as research for a client’s blog. Make copious notes. Doodle in corner of page while I’m thinking.

2pm: Stare at wall, waiting for inspiration to strike. Decide that some ideas may pop into my head while I’m hanging out the next wash load.

2.10pm: Look in food cupboard for something to eat. Change my mind, close it and walk away. Five minutes later, I look again. Still nothing.

2.15pm: Watch a few viral ads doing the rounds on Facebook (I deserve a break) and make a note of quotes I’d like to use on my business page. Decide to turn a couple of these into images I can use on my business page, while promising myself I will focus on Twitter more consistently soon.

2.30pm: Decide to listen to a webinar while my brain is mulling over ideas.

3pm: Midway through webinar, inspiration strikes! I pause webinar and start making notes about the structure and content of my client’s blog.

3.45pm: Make a cup of tea and decide I need to listen to some music loudly to blow away my mid-afternoon slump. Dance around the attic like a crazy person, while singing loudly and praying my neighbours aren’t at home to hear me.

3.54pm: Write blog post. Suddenly, all my ideas come together. The words fly on to the paper. Finish the blog and decide to re-read it with fresh eyes in the evening.

5.45pm: Have a five-minute chat with my other half when he comes in from work.

5.55pm: Head out to pick the boys up from their friends’ house. Talk to their mum about how busy I am.

7pm: Finally make it home with two very chatty boys who talk non-stop about playing on the computer.

7.30pm: Listen to my four-year-old read and put him to bed. It’s my other half’s turn to put our oldest to bed so I head back up to my office to do a bit more work.

8.15pm: Re-read today’s work and make a few changes before sending it to client. Brain suddenly feels delightfully clear and focused. Make lots of notes about Wednesday’s blogs I’m writing for a client.

9pm: Stop for the day and have dinner, before reading my Kindle (and commenting on lots of Facebook posts).

11pm: Fall into bed, exhausted but also full of words and ideas.Misspent time Watch Suits on the laptop because my brain is wide awake, despite my body’s protestations.

 

Of course, not every day looks like this. I wouldn’t keep my clients if it did. But every so often, I have a day of non-stop procrastination. Those days drive me potty when I’m in the middle of them. I feel like giving myself a talking to (for all the difference it would make).

But hindsight gives me a different perspective. I’ve realised that procrastination does have a role to play in how I function as a writer. It turns out that, albeit in some hidden corner, a part of my brain is working away on the various different projects I have booked in, even while the larger part appears to be off with the fairies somewhere.

Procrastination is often my body’s way of telling me I need to take a break or letting me know that it’s time to regroup and break my tasks into more manageable chunks. I’ve decided that procrastination might actually be my friend. Today I woke refreshed, recharged, overflowing with ideas and raring to go. And that can’t be a bad thing.

So, ‘fess up? Are you a procrastinator too? Do you beat yourself up about it or embrace the many distractions that place themselves in your way? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Then go to Di