Procrastination is a bad, four-letter word, something to be avoided at all costs. For entrepreneurs, it is a sin somewhere between working for free and being a poor networker. I recently heard a quote, though, that changed my outlook on procrastination:

"The work you do while you procrastinate is the work you should do for the rest of your life." - Jessica Hische

Procrastination is usually viewed as the absence of work (and, therefore, the loss of profit and productivity), but what if it was a compass to your true calling? Perhaps the things you do that make time fly by faster can be integrated into your actual work.

In retrospect, the procrastination idea has already changed my career. I was perfectly happy researching and writing books, but writing my first major book, on the history of sexuality and video games, put me on my first book tour. It was amazing! I spent five years working in solitude, and now I was finally able to discuss my theories and share my inside stories with the world. In fact, I began to enjoy the in-person intimacy more than the actual writing. I could have ignored that impulse and gone back to writing, but instead I shifted my focus to public speaking and soon got onto the TED stage doing more what of what I love.

I would delay getting back to my writing so I could connect with people. Now I craft dynamic speeches instead of books, turning my procrastination vice into my strength - and integrating my previous career into it in the process.

Here's how you can turn your procrastination into a powerful tool:

Listen: What are you doing now that you're doing to prevent you from going back to the work you claim to enjoy? Mindless activities, or what you do without feeling stressed, could represent you going on instinct rather than forced action. In other words, figure out what you do in your life that feels natural.

Distill: What are the basic traits of your procrastination? Write down what you actually get from the activity. My love of long conversations boils down to connecting with others, getting different viewpoints and arguing new ideas. Think about your own favorite procrastination and distill it down to two or three things you get out of it - without judgment.

Pivot: How can you integrate your natural inclinations into your practice? For instance, if you love sitting in a coffee shop talking for hours, then perhaps you need more face time with your clients. It doesn't mean you have to change your entire business, but that you are pivoting to include more of what you actually love.

How can you integrate your favorite procrastination into your business life?

Published on: Dec 21, 2015
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