Monday, October 14, 2013


I stare at the photocopy distributed at the meeting like I’ve  1.  won the lottery,  2.  been given a gift,  3.  have been handed a reprieve,  and 4.  all of the above.  I have to smile.  After all, I intended to include that very information in a section of a handbook I am preparing.  A quick email, and I have the electronic copy and permission to include it in the handbook.  I wipe the item off my mental to-do list.  

Procrastination pays off.   Again.  It happens with uncanny regularity. 

Another case in point. 

As I labour over an organizer for a question I am answering  for a project, I am inspired to check if the question might have changed in the most recent iteration of the document.  Imagine my surprise—the revised document has just been posted!  Imagine my  dismay—the question I have been working on has been deleted.  Gone!  Replaced with a much simpler version not requiring an orgnizer.  I’m off the hook, but more than an hour of my time has been hoodwinked.  Swaying back on my office chair, I congratulate myself on prescient pause-button pressing on my work to verify the question, and salvaging the potential lost minutes, so precious in this time of tight deadlines.  What if crisp efficiency or dogged determination had kept me shackled to my work during the previous weeks ?  I would have been farther ahead only to end up way behind.

Another victory for procrastination, or, what I have come to call, the power of positive procrastination.   For procrastination has power, and its force is positive.  I owe this insight to a principal I had the good fortune of working with in my first years teaching.  He explained to me that he didn’t make any decisions until he had all the pieces of information he needed.  He waited for the critical moment to decide—not sooner, not later.  Experience had taught him to discern the right time for a decision.

I don’t pretend to have my former principal’s wisdom.  Over the years, however, I have come to trust my intuition.  When 1.  I feel uneasy about a task, or 2.  I am spinning my wheels on a project, or 3.  life intervenes to interrupt my schedule, I will likely postpone the job.  Better to simmer a bit longer so that the flavours are well blended.  What appears to be procrastination is, rather, judicious analysis of circumstances combined with trust in the heart’s messages and divine intervention.

Procrastination has a bad rap, like old-time music, bread, whole wheat pasta, Regina, or disorder.  It doesn’t have to be indifference and laissez-faire, snubbing one’s nose at obligations in favour of personal indulgence.  Deliberate procrastination growing out of an astute analysis of circumstances and respect for intuition is a powerful force and an intriguing phenomenon.  I have dubbed that force "The Power of Positive Procrastination."

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