“I think the word ‘procrastinate’ has come to be viewed unfairly negatively” – Andy Swann

Last week I wrote about chronic procrastination, how I manage mine, and some of the ways my life has improved through productivity techniques. I have to tell you, I felt pretty good about publishing that story, and was eager to share the good news.

The piece was received well on Twitter, which made me feel even better. People began asking me more for details about how I’d beaten my procrastination demons, and even told me they might try some of the things that had worked for me, at some point. Procrastinators aren’t always that big on commitment. Believe me. I should know.

However, the conversation that piqued my interest, and pulled my head out of the ever-so-slightly-smug pat-on-the-back-aren’t-I-clever clouds came from Andy.

Andy is a curious person. Not ‘odd’ curious; I don’t know him well enough to say that. He might be for all I know but he doesn’t comes across that way(you can put that quote on your next poster/book if you like, Andy!).

No, I mean that Andy has a curious, inquiring mind. He has a way of asking the other questions, challenging conventions and seeing things from the other side. Look, I’ll show you what I mean:

So Andy thinks the term procrastinate has been judged unfairly. He seems to think procrastination might be positive. But procrastination stops me getting things done by getting in the way of delivering and generally taking me off track. My mind wanders and the next thing I know I’m doing the ‘wrong’ thing.

Of course, he has a great point. If I actively stop myself from procrastinating, what am I missing out on? Am I putting barriers in the way of freethinking, preventing myself from stumbling upon new interests and concepts? Is this the end of happy accidents and rambling creativity?

That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Andy.

I consider myself a creative person, and express this most obviously through playing music and singing, which I love. Less conspicuously, I aim for a similarly creative approach to developing myself and other people, and to problem solving and strategic thinking.

But without taking the time, space and the permissions to explore new ideas, there’s a risk we can end up recycling old material. Some consultants fall victim to this; too many years away from the cutting edge, slowly drowning in a sea of out of date advice and behind the times ideas.

To address this I give myself permission to mind-ramble; it’s my comfort zone but this time it’s ‘allowed’. And I’ve setup a safe place online to capture some of the ideas and brain farts; a tumblr blog. There are no rules to what makes it into the blog. It’s really just for fun and art.

I’m having to be more rigid than I’d really like with when I switch into the allowed-procrastination state, as at this point in time it’s important that I stick with positive, productivity habits. They’re very helpful.

I’ll be coming back to this subject. It floats my boat. And there is a lot more to ponder.

And I’ll be a delegate at this summer’s All About People conference in Bournemouth, UK. Andy is organising the AAP conference and Doug Shaw is one of the speakers. If you’re interested in how art can help unlock creativity for you and your team then check out Doug. He writes and speaks excellently about this subject; read his blog or find him on twitter.

Right, time to go think about something else …

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