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.
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?
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.
Do you think there’s a difference between proscrastinating and prioritizing?
Are you a proscrastinator or a prioritizer?