Shades of procrastination

Procrastination comes in three shades. Let’s explore them with the example of an author who wishes to write the first draft of an article.

Defer: This is the most conventional definition of procrastination. The thought of drafting the article is painful and causes the author to put it off indefinitely. Instead, they check their phone or reach for a snack. Chances are that they would never come back to that article for several hours. Or days.

Delay: When they sit down, they notice how messy their table is. Once they have spent half an hour on cleaning and organizing their table, they do the same with the files on their computer’s desktop. They notice how their internet connection isn’t fast enough and call the company’s hotline. This form of procrastination has an interesting term – yak shaving.

Dilute: The most insidious form of procrastination. The author starts working on the article, but deviates from the main task of writing the first draft. Instead, they skip between their sentences and paragraphs, editing each word until it is perfect. Or they hop off on a journey through the internet to read related articles. Busy work falls into this domain. The author is fooled into thinking that they are making progress, but actually run around in circles without getting anywhere.

Stephen Covey once said, ‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’. When you sit down to work, be mindful of procrastination in ALL its forms.

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