Friday, January 27, 2017

"The Advantages Of Procrastination"

There's an interesting little motivator that some people can use to be more productive, and it's called procrastination. Normally procrastination is seen as something undesirable - a way of putting off important tasks or responsibilities - but there is an upside to it.

In our aging in place businesses as we are meeting with potential clients, determining what we should recommend or suggest as improvements for them, drafting proposals or formal scope of services agreements, or scheduling the actual work and completing it, we can use bursts of activity and moments of play or reward to our advantage.

While we might like to think that we should be totally focused on our projects and diligently work on them until they are completed, some people just don't perform well this way. The ability to focus and concentrate on an activity for an extended period of time varies tremendously from person-to-person.

Some people can read and study well with music - some must have it on and the louder the better. Others can't have the slightest noise or distraction or it affects their ability to concentrate. People are different and they learn and approach tasks in different ways.

This is where procrastination comes into the picture. Rather than taking a rigid posture of we must work on something until it's completed ("no TV or playing outside until the homework is finished"), we can actually make the lure of fun activities or distractions work to our advantage.

This may not be for everyone, but there is merit in trying this.

Suppose we have a proposal to write for a client and it is not coming together easily or we need to do some research before we can complete it. We can be a taskmaster and make ourselves work on it until we complete it - even though we may suffer through some less than productive moments in the process - or we can break the work up into segments. It may take longer in terms of elapsed time to complete the total project, but the end result may be much more polished than otherwise would be the case.

By segmenting the work - and there is no magic number of how many there should be from a couple to many - we can work in bursts of all-out energy and dedication to the task knowing that a well-deserved and scheduled break is just around the corner. Often, when we temporarily and intentionally walk away from a task to do something totally unrelated (reading, watching TV or a movie, going for a walk, cutting the grass, or washing the car, for instance) we clear our heads to be able to work more purposefully when we return.

Sometimes ideas will come to us, or the end game will seem clearer when we walk away and focus on something else for brief periods of time during the project.

Procrastination - not in the sense that we keep putting something off and dread ever getting started on it but as a way of intentionally breaking up a task to clear our head or give us motivation for working hard for brief periods of activity - can have very positive benefits. We can apply ourselves to the task at hand for brief intervals knowing that we are going to take a guilt-free break soon - before returning to our project again. This seems to help our creativity and effectiveness.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.