Procrastinating Versus Prioritizing

I don’t think of myself as a procrastinator. I was that student who did her summer reading as soon as school got out in June–and then failed the quiz in September when I couldn’t remember obscure details designed to weed out those who had relied on Cliff Notes. In law school, I did the reading before class instead of waiting until finals week. My work is very deadline driven and doesn’t leave much room for procrastinating. 

Procrastinating Versus Prioritizing
On the other hand, competing demands on my time do require prioritizing. Thinking about today’s Wednesday Word (procrastinate) made me realize that behavior that looks like procrastination from an outside observer may reflect prioritization rather than laziness or a perennial lack of self-control (yikes!).


At work, I have to prioritize projects according to their deadlines, putting filing deadlines over somewhat more flexible client deadlines, and estimating how much time each project will take. Do I need to tackle this 1/2 hour project that’s due tomorrow, or work on this 10 hour project that’s due in two weeks? 

work stress

Usually the left pile is for things that will take more time,
but when the piles are this high, all bets are off!

I don’t prioritize all of my work this way, though. I usually spend the first hour of my day on quick tasks with short deadlines (reviewing and signing papers to be filed that day), to make sure those get done in case the rest of my day gets hijacked by an unexpected urgent matter. On the other hand, I like to spend the last hour or so of my day on more routine projects that may have far off deadlines but don’t require too much time or mental effort, so I can start the next day with fewer items looming in my in-box.


When I have a big project to work on, I might put off tackling it until I have completed other smaller projects, even if those other projects have later deadlines. While this could be procrastinating–avoiding work I’m dreading not looking forward to doing–I don’t put it off until an opportunity is lost–that could be malpractice!

One thing I do procrastinate is going to the grocery store. It’s my least favorite weekend chore because it involves meal-planning, picking through produce to find apples that aren’t bruised and tomatoes that aren’t mushy, hoping the items I need aren’t out of stock, and trying to come up with a plan B on the fly when they are. The only thing that gets me there is knowing that I’d much rather bring my own lunches and make my own dinners than have to get take-out all week. 

Deb Runs

Do you think there’s a difference between proscrastinating and prioritizing?

Are you a proscrastinator or a prioritizer?

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14 Responses to Procrastinating Versus Prioritizing

  1. Carla says:

    I tried to tell the attorney here about my STRUCTURED PROCRASTINATION approach to life the other night as well.
    He wasn’t interested 🙂
    Carla recently posted…How do you make introductions?My Profile

  2. One thing that gets me to the grocery store early on Sunday mornings is avoiding the procrastinators who wait until noon to shop! Just like running a crowded race, I loathe weaving around all the carts in the aisles!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Sh** or Get Off of the PortapottyMy Profile

  3. I am so not a procrastinator! Prioritizing is key. I always picture you as so organized and proactive.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Skirting Around Boulder-Skirt Sports RetreatMy Profile

  4. Tamieka says:

    Oh I like that prioritizing over procrastination.
    I guess part of my procrastination could be prioritization….yup-I go with that 😉

    Geez! Look at all those files, I would be totally overwhelmed by that! You go girl!

  5. Lauren says:

    Ah I love your take on this. I too try to start and end my day with less time consuming “tasky” things that I can knock off my to do list if the day gets away from me!
    Lauren recently posted…Why Procrastination Kills a Long RunMy Profile

  6. Dude, I’m with you on grocery shopping. But if I’m in the mood, I get so stoked, haha! Going to TJ’s is NEVER a chore, but the regular grocery store can suck.:)

  7. No, I’m definitely a procrastinator.

    I don’t particularly like grocery shopping, but I do like to eat, so I don’t tend to procrastinate on that one. 🙂
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Never put off til tomorrow . . .My Profile

  8. Marcia says:

    When you put it this way, I too am a prioritizer. I always have crucial projects done on time and I don’t save them for the 11th hour. But the small stuff? Making dr appts, scheduling window washing, planning meals, that stuff gets pushed off. Sigh.
    Marcia recently posted…Espirit de She Triathlon Race ReportMy Profile

  9. I like to get one task done before I take on another so I guess that is a bit of procrastinating.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Get Paid to Blog: Make Money Blogging With These Top Sites for Paid Sponsored PostsMy Profile

  10. That’s a great concept – prioritizing over procrastinating. I don’t do well juggling a bunch of projects at once. I do much better finishing one before starting another. It sounds like you’ve got it totally under control, though!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Ask Coach DebMy Profile

  11. Meagan says:

    There’s definitely a difference between procrastinating and prioritizing. But to the outside party (especially one that is more concerned in one of your tasks over another) they probably look the same. Prioritizing means you can juggle all the balls at once and keep them all in the air. Procrastinating means you end up with too many balls and some are going to fall.
    Meagan recently posted…From Road Marathon to Trail 50KMy Profile

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