Are You Procrastinating…. or Failing to Prioritize? How You Can Tell the Difference

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I’ve often asked myself why high-functioning professional men and women become paralyzed by indecision. Why they’re procrastinating? Why do you procrastinate?

First let me say that procrastination (like many other coping mechanisms) has earned a really bad rap. The three primary, legitimate, and often unexplored reasons we procrastinate are:

  1. perfectionism
  2. fear of failure
  3. fear of success

You may ask yourself, “Why am I procrastinating?” “Why do I suddenly slam on the brakes and tie myself up in a knot? Why do I suddenly stop making decisions, producing results, and feeling good about myself?”

The reality is that you may not be stalling or placing your life on hold for the reasons you think.

Maybe you’re not procrastinating.

Think for a moment about the demands on your life right now;  Think about how many people are piling things onto your already overflowing plate. Your manager, peers, mentees, significant other, children, parents, and volunteer organizations all want something from you.

Everyone has expectations of your super human powers, don’t they?

Now add your ‘shoulds’ to that list… what your mother told you should be doing, or society or your spiritual leader … It’s amazing that you don’t permanently crash under this never-diminishing, always-increasing load. Oh you did crash, you say? Well, you are NOT ALONE!!

If we don’t know what’s most important to us then too many things, on a continuum of relevance, gather on our plate demanding our attention. We don’t know which things to let go of and which to relentlessly pursue.

We literally stall (which, of course, looks curiously like procrastination) because we haven’t prioritized our life, our values, or ourselves.

When we clog our mind with absurd expectations we can’t meet, we experience failure. Subsequently, we convince ourselves we’re procrastinating losers.

But that’s a lie!

Most of us are juggling an impossible number of things . When we’re overloaded with decisions we stop doing the things we love, put off decisions, and delay projects. We cannot handle one more thing. And since we’re too swamped to work through it, we shift into neutral and stay there until we somehow manage to untangle ourselves, or someone kicks us in the butt.

Consider this:

  • Procrastination is avoiding something that needs to be done.
  • Prioritizing is figuring out what is most important to you and doing things in that order.

When you’re procrastinating you fail to put your foot on the gas. When you fail to prioritize, you have one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

Are you paralyzed by procrastinating…  or have you failed to prioritize your life?

  • Could you use some help figuring out your priorities?
  • How can you turn your priorities into a strategy for your work and your life?
  • Do you know what you want to do but you somehow never get it done?

Most people need some accountability in order to successfully reach their goals-  would that make a difference in your reaching YOUR GOALS?







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5 thoughts on “Are You Procrastinating…. or Failing to Prioritize? How You Can Tell the Difference

  1. Nancy – I really loved this. I have been beating myself up for the longest time saying that I am a procrastinator. It seems I leave everything to the last minute. Suddenly I have realized that the truth is I have an enormous amount on my plate… and it all seems to have top priority. Then I get high priority interruptions. 🙁 (i.e. Today I have been busily working on a seminar I am delivering on Saturday. I got a call from Bank of America about something they need for my refinance and they need it NOW… or they will deny my loan!) I am definitely going to work on prioritizing! Thanks!!

  2. Stephanie
    I am so happy that you found this blog to be a valuable read.

    Even after all the years of doing the work I do, I still find it curious that most people default to blaming themselves (i.e. beat up) when stressed. When we clearly define our top priorities, we make it much easier to say “No” when necessary. Not knowing you, I’m still going to suggest that you’re not a procrastinator, you just haven’t yet made the distinction between your non-negotiables and everyone else’s.


  3. Nancy,

    This was a fabulous post!! And right on time. I, too, have been feeling overwhelmed with life’s demands and then wondering why I couldn’t get my book that’s been on the back burner written. Well-meaning folks have suggested getting up earlier to write, writing when I come home from work, etc. Somedays it’s all I can do to get through the day. ANyway, I felt a wonderful sense of relief reading this. THANK YOU!

  4. Scarlett,
    Great news that you found this post to be so valuable- You’re welcome!

    Obviously I don’t know your relationship to your book; what I do know is that when I wrote my first book it had a mind of it’s own. Impact! quite literally had a personality, a voice and it’s own expectations. All the suggestions, teleseminars and books in the world weren’t helpful until Impact! and I were ready to move forward.

    Trust yourself! You know what you’re doing!

  5. Pingback: You Don’t Have the Time, You Make the Time! | Nancy D. Solomon

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