Thursday, July 16, 2015

July 2015 Book of the Month: Procrastinate on Purpose

One of my resolutions for 2015 was to read at least one good book each month and blog about it.
Last month, I read an OUTSTANDING novel, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
I knew that would be a tough act to follow for any work of fiction, so I veered back to non-fiction for this month's selection.

Procrastinate on Purpose:  5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden, was just published this year.  The title immediately caught my attention, because procrastination has a very bad rep.  It may not be one of the Seven Deadly Sins -- but it's right up there at number eight or nine, I'll bet.
Why would anyone admit they procrastinate on purpose?

Here is a sampling of the Conventional Wisdom I heard as a kid:

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Strike while the iron's shot.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Carpe Diem! (Seize the day!)

I'm not seeing permission to procrastinate anywhere on that list!  So--intrigued by that thought, I plunged into this readable little book by the author of the former non-fiction bestseller, Take the Stairs.

He observes that many of us are so overwhelmed with incoming data and tasks, that we suffer from what he calls "priority dilution."  (Guilty as charged!) 

Ever have one of those days when you feel like all you did was put out fires?  I call those days "spinning my wheels in overdrive."  I expend a lot of time and energy, stay busy, busy, busy, but at the end of the day feel like I've accomplished very little.

In his study of successful managers, Vaden observed that most of them are "Multipliers."  They give themselves permission to spend time on things today that will create more time in the future.
And if a task doesn't have a future payoff, it won't demand immediate attention.  So what might that look like in Real Life?

In an office setting, this may be creating a documents storage protocol that makes it easy for anyone to search for and retrieve a document.  No more spending 30 minutes looking for a lost file.  

In a creative Etsian's studio, it might mean having all supplies and tools well-organized and in good working order -- or having an efficient packaging and shipping workstation -- or a workable and reliable system of inventory control.

To illustrate Vaden's 5 Permissions, he uses the visual image of a funnel.  As new tasks come
in, assess whether you can ---






If you can't make it go away, hand it to R2D2, or sneak it into your assistant's In Box, it's going to land on 


But once it is on your desk, it doesn't necessarily demand your immediate attention.
There are two more permissions:

(If it truly is urgent, important and significant)


(If it is not urgent, important and significant)
and send it back to the top of the funnel to deal with at another time.

Like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

In theory, this is a liberating (if not completely novel) idea.  But I fear that in practice, "the fun thing" will cause me to concentrate on things that I should kick back up to the top of the funnel by procrastinating on purpose.

Case in point:  I could be cutting out fabric for 6 pending orders (3 custom, 3 "regular" Etsy items).I can't eliminate, automate (yet) or delegate that task (I tried. Hubby said "No way!").  Should I Concentrate or Procrastinate?  Doing it now will save me time later, so Vaden would say DO IT NOW!   But the FUN thing would be to see what my Facebook buddies are up to -- or look at pretty pictures on Pinterest (rationalizing to myself that social media is an important marketing tool.)  Not a convincing argument, even to Myself, because without products, I have nothing to market!  

The lure of the internet is so strong -- and, but it is, as one of my Etsy buddies termed it, a huge time suck!   I've seriously thought of imposing a Social Media Moratorium on myself  (maybe 20 minutes a day)  from September 1 through December 24, so I can have more time to create products for Fall craft fairs and (hopefully) an Etsy holiday rush.

SO--Will the "funnel" really keep me from procrastinating to avoid unpleasant tasks -- even if they save me some time in the future?  Probably not.

Perhaps it is because at my age, I'm more inclined to live for today and worry less inclined to obsess (or at least overthink) about saving time tomorrow.  

Life is short.  

SO---I'd only give this book 3 stars. Good, but definitely not great.  Interesting, but not one I'd add to my permanent library.  If  you are smitten by the title and want to run off and buy this book -- I'd advise you to procrastinate.



  1. My husband talks about overwhelming incoming data (emails) all the time and how it's such a waste to answer them one by one. I bet he'd like this book!

    1. Yes, he would. I once had a boss who thought if you waited long enough, many things would be OBE'd (obviated by events). It made me a little crazy, though. I aspire to be a "Git 'we done!" sort of person.

    2. Oops! I meant "Git 'er done!" The edit icon was unresponsive. Proofreading is not my strong suit :-(.

  2. Ha! I love your closing line. I was intrigued by the title, but it sounds like a bit of procrastination beforehand is the right choice for me. =)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Natasha! I hope I wasn't too negative.