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Why I Procrastinate...

A Blessing or a Curse?

Some see procrastination as the devil. For me, it’s part of the creative process.

I procrastinate when there’s a lack of clarity, without which nothing works and epic procrastination kicks in. It’s my Geiger counter, showing me that something is misaligned or not fully conceived.

That’s when it’s time to pause, to breathe, look at, and step away from the situation or project and see what’s off. 

Before realizing its value and all it has to reveal, I beat myself up and felt ‘less than’ for procrastinating.

An example… I love the process of new business development – securing clients. It’s the hunt, seduction, and conquest that gets me fired up. But once the contract is signed, the thrill is gone; the adrenaline rush is over, and reality sets it…  time to do the work and deliver, on deadline.

Consistently, that’s when I have a mild panic attack (all self-induced nonsensical mental chatter) that I may not be able to deliver on my promise.

I started to see a pattern: once a contract was signed and payment hit my bank, I’d go into hiding, avoiding any contact with the new client. This lasted days until I was on the brink of getting fired, and then I’d resurface with a bucket full of excuses.

My big aha moment happened a few years ago when I realized and accepted that this is the essence of my creative process with all new projects whether for clients or myself.

Unconscious procrastination became conscious procrastination.

Four Stages of My Creative Process

While there are five stages of grief, my creative process has four, each with a pretty consistent organic timetable:

  • Procrastination – The panic stage that lasts approximately 3 – 5-ish days and leads to...
  • Percolating - Ideas start bubbling around my head, my senses are heightened, and inspiration is flowing. This can be likened to dating – playing the field, seeing what most sparks my attention. Duration: 4 – 6-ish days, depending on the scope of project…
  • Marinating – The best idea or two makes itself known and we spend time together, imagining how it could potentially be. Not fully ready to commit, but definitely there’s strong interest.  Duration:  3-ish days.
  • Creating – It’s blast off time.  We’re committed, the juices are flowing and the project is coming to life.  Duration: Varies.

Now, I create contracts, scopes of work and timelines that factor all of this in.  Clients know in up front what my MO is so they don’t have to freak out when I disappear.  Everything works much smoother; I’m honoring my natural rhythms, clients are happy for the full disclosure.

For sure, there are instances when procrastination does not serve me well but for the most part, it is symptomatic of some alignment issue.  So… don’t judge yourself or think there’s anything wrong with you.  Instead, look at what you’re avoiding and dig deeper into why. 

Is procrastination your kryptonite or superpower?