Are You Patient – or Are You Procrastinating?

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”

~ Don Marquis

Are You Patient – or Are You Procrastinating?

By Andrea Novakowski

As my scheduled time for writing this Tip drew closer and closer, I noticed myself getting very busy. I needed to check my email. Clean out a file. Do a load of laundry. Water the plants. Trim the plants. Check my email again. I didn’t feel confident about my topic, and a small voice in my head was telling me to scrap the whole idea. ARGH!

Lo and behold, I was living this week’s Tip.

In the days leading up to my deadline, I’d been patient with myself, taking time to think about what I wanted to write, letting the ideas flow. Now that it was time to sit down and write, however, I was doing anything but. I had moved from patience to procrastination.

In business, there’s a time to be patient, to let insights come to you, to let solutions unfold. From an outsider’s viewpoint, it may look like idleness, but important work is being done.

At a certain point, though, patience turns into procrastination. It’s time to take action, but you’re not taking it.

How can you tell if you’re being patient or you’re just procrastinating? As I say, they often look the same from the outside. What’s taking place on the inside is a different story.

Patience Procrastination

Calm Revved up

Mind is quiet Lots of mind chatter

Decisive Questioning

Focused Distracted

Neutral attitude Dread

What to do when you find yourself procrastinatingWith patience, some part of your mind is still working on the task, even if you’re doing something else. With procrastination, your mind is avoiding the task, diverting your attention with unrelated activities like laundry and Facebook. You may not understand why you’re putting off your work. You just seem to be finding other things to do.

  • Stop and acknowledge what you’re feeling. It could be fear, uncertainty, or a lack of motivation. Maybe you’re worried that the execution of your idea won’t live up to your expectations.
  • Label what you’re feeling. Giving what you are feeling a label makes it more real and takes it out of the unconscious to the conscious where you can address it.
  • Talk back to yourself and frame the situation in a more positive way. (To obtain my tool on reframing, send me an email at with Reframing in the subject line.)
  • Create a plan to complete the task. You can start either from the beginning or the end. Spend a few minutes thinking about the steps, then write them down. Seeing the plan helps you know it’s doable.
  • Start your plan. Take action. Take step one in your plan.

What did I do this morning (after staring at the blank screen)?

I acknowledged that even though I’d spent time thinking about this topic, I didn’t feel confident that I could express myself well. I was questioning my abilities. I told myself, “You’ve been here before. You know that when you sit down to write, the words come. They may be the words you were thinking about, or they may be entirely different words. Just write. Before you know it, you’ll be done with the first draft, and then you can put the project aside for later review.”

I set my timer for 45 minutes, took a peek at my notes, and started typing.

What did I learn?

When I procrastinate, I’m making the project much bigger than it needs to be. Pausing to remember this helps me to calm down. From that calmer place, I can create a more productive outlook, and diving into the project with that frame of mind, I move into action. And that sure feels good.

My homework:

Remember that this is a habit of mine (and perhaps yours, too). First I’m patient, then I procrastinate. When I stop and notice which stage I’m in, I can step back, assess, and move forward.

Coaching Call To Action

Do you have the habit of procrastinating? How do you know you are procrastinating? What are your best Tips to overcome your procrastination? Please share with us below.

What’s New?

December 5, 2013
Coach for Massachusetts Conference for Women

I’m thrilled to have been chosen to offer coaching at the Massachusetts Conference for Women – 50 coaches from ICF-NE will be working with attendees from 3 to 5 PM. Each of us will provide 20 minutes of coaching to 6 attendees. I’ll also be at the ICF-NE Booth. Hope to see you there!