Productive Procrastination

Studio repaint in workshop Morgan Bicca

As I was plastering a wall in our house yesterday, my husband said to me, “I don’t know how you get so much stuff done.” My best friend calls me “high activation.” I marvel at people who seemingly know me so well can see me so differently than I see myself.

Inside my own head, I get a small fraction of what I want to accomplish completed in my workday. I am sure I could get so much more done if I would just stop procrastinating. When my husband made the comment yesterday on how much stuff I got done, he didn’t know I was actually procrastinating that very minute, and that gave me this insight: The way I procrastinate is to do other, easier, low priority tasks. So, it appears I get a lot done, but I am not always getting the “mission-critical” tasks completed.

If I have a design due, I will procrastinate, sometimes all week. Designs are a regular part of my work, so this is terribly inconvenient for my workflow. Cleaning my house, getting my accounting up to the minute, and every fix-it project I can think up suddenly become urgent priorities. I have read that my brain might be working on these creative ideas while I do other tasks: This is possible but below my level of awareness. In twenty years as a mural artist, I haven’t given up the fantasy that if I could just get that creative heavy lifting done first my life would be so much easier, I would be carefree. Instead, I wake up Saturday mornings feeling like I need to make up for a workweek that was filled with unproductive detours.

Here is how I navigate procrastination:

There are certain things that I strictly don’t bring into my workday: Errands, TV, alcohol or pot, socializing. Because I have knocked out some major time wasters, I am left with less tantalizing ways to procrastinate, like naps, walks by myself around the block, or doing other, lower priority work tasks.

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