Updated: Aug 27
You wouldn’t think that a Type A perfectionist could also be a procrastinator, do you? I am here to tell you that it is possible. If you have met me then you know one. You know a Type A perfectionist and procrastinator.
Recently I have noticed that when I feel a great sense of overwhelm I also notice an increase in my coping mechanisms. And one of my biggest coping mechanisms when it comes to overwhelm is to procrastinate.
I may actually find myself napping more, binge watching tv more (currently binge watching Designated Survivor) or working on the smaller tasks on my list that do not seem so overwhelming for me to accomplish. Tasks like writing this article, posting on social media, following up on emails (that are not time sensitive).
My relationship with procrastination has always been complicated. I’m what you might call a situational procrastinator. Give me a to-do list of small tasks or projects and I power through like the Type-A perfectionist I am. This has been my pattern since a young child.
However, when big projects or decisions are in front of me, one with a really big client or opportunity, that is when I notice the procrastination creeping in. Including that 6th grade science project that seemed insurmountable. Also the keynote speech that I wanted to tailor specifically to increase engagement from the virtual audience. I almost always leave those to the last minute.
For most of my professional life, I have rationalized this by saying that I work best under pressure. And, actually, I do. I am the type of person that thrives in an environment where I am working on multiple projects with competing deadlines. (Note: I am not advocating for the hustle and grind life either.)
But the more I embrace my inner procrastinator, the more I notice a few things about this nuance that isn’t congruent with failure. It is useful. And overall quite productive. And also adds to my notion of the work life blend.
The word procrastination comes from the Latin verb procrastinare — to put off until tomorrow. But it’s more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia — doing something against our better judgment.
When I force myself to work on a project during a time that isn’t energizing me, it seems like a heavy lift. I could work for hours, go through several stacks of sticky notes and paper attempting to get the project to go in the direction that I want it to. It is a defeating feeling when I keep blowing up a balloon with a small pin pick in it that I have not noticed.
However there are other times when I sit down to work the project so intensely and effectively while also dancing to my favorite jams in the background. Everything begins to click into place with ease and grace. These are the times that I am feeling the inspiration of the project and I am completely in sync with the process. Therefore reaching the finish line of the project much sooner than imagined - and definitely a lot quicker than the times when I am attempting inflate a balloon that has a hole in it like the previous example.
So my theory of procrastination is that you actually are not procrastinating. You are, in fact, honoring your intuition.
By paying attention to the rhythm of your energy and ability to tackle the project with gusto you mag surprise yourself (and watch less Netflix). But if you do have any binge-worthy shows you want to share, I encourage you to drop those in the comments below, too! Follow me on IG at Nonprofit_Nerd to stay connected with me. I am always good for some procrastination...I mean inspiration!
And if you want to nerd out over nonprofits, let's connect to see how I can best be of service to your cause.