Principles of Effective Procrastination

For class I’m reading this book called The Revolutionary Communicator. I’m having a difficult time focusing because my head is all over the place- thinking about other assignments and decisions about the future. Both the assignments and the future seem very overwhelming today. To be honest, I do not feel great right now.

So I’m pushing myself to read- and it really is a good book.  It talks about seven principles Jesus lived to impact, connect and lead.  I don’t really think Jesus was ticking little check marks next to his interactions with people, “I was definitely authentic with that person“, “ I’m going to connect with this lady through questions“… Clearly, being what John calls The Word, he has an inherent handle on communication. But having 7 principles is good for those of us who are not Jesus….

Right now I’m reading the chapter on asking questions as a way to communicate (my co-students might gasp because this is only chapter 3 in a book I’m supposed to have a report written for by Thursday). The whole chapter focuses on how Jesus (and other people like our friend William Wilberforce) used questions to stir in people an understanding of deeper things.

“Statements alone can be rigid, easily picked apart, and then disregarded in a debate over details. They tend to make demands of the audience rather than requests. They often give little space for the listener’s  own thought process, but instead try to orchestrate that process for them.
Jesus’ questions, in contrast, invited others to participate in the activity of discovery, to take hold of the truth for themselves. He understood that when an idea is imposed, however reasonable it might be, it is rarely held for long.”

I ask myself questions all the time. In fact, my private journal is filled with questions. I ask them of myself and I ask them of God. “Why are things this way?” “Why did I respond to that person that way?” “Who are You?” “Who am I?”
I’m also learning to ask more questions to the people around me. Tonight at the dinner table I was asking my roommate about something (now I can’t remember what) and it led to hearing her sing some songs from Zimbabwe. Then I got to hear India’s national anthem sung by this dear pastor and student, George.

I am blessed by questions from friends because they cause me to feel as if what I have to say is important and they help me discover new things. I am blessed to pose questions to friends because then I get to hear something from them about who they are, what they think of the world and maybe I’ll even get a song as a bonus.

The book also says that “self-discovered truths are always far more powerful and enduring than those that are imposed or spoon-fed. They inevitably penetrate deeper, reside longer, and influence more thoroughly“. It makes me laugh a little to wonder if this particular truth will sink very deep since I read it in this book instead of coming to the conclusion on my own by way of a question asked.


My favorite quote from the dinner table tonight came from Pam (my roommate from Zimbabwe). She was talking about sports in High School and how she had been quite good at the high jump. She said,
“I would have considered doing that for life but it was just so silly”

What silly things have you considered doing for life? Are you doing them now or did you write them off long ago as too silly?


2 thoughts on “Principles of Effective Procrastination”

  1. Thank you for your post. You got me wondering and thinking (those are different states aren’t they?) I was immediately curious about the seven principles of communication – IMPACT – CONNECT – LEAD .

    I popped open Amazon’s free preview and noted the 7 sections of the book which I assume are the principles you mention.

    1 Attentiveness (can you hear me now?)

    2 Seeking Connection (on their turf and in their terms)

    3 Asking Questions (how to start a revolution)

    4 Authenticity (a draught of the real)

    5 Storytelling (once upon a time…)

    6 Solitude (time away from the crowd)

    7 Defining Success (fixed upon the north star)

    I initially thought I might attempt to compare elements of your blog and my life to each of the seven elements. I cannot figure out how to make my response concise, short and still communicate my point. Then I considered attempting a clever comment that incorporated each of the seven principles. It’s a no go.

    The title of your post is “Principles of Productive Procrastination” my ex-fiance had a term for this that she called “productive procrastination” — basically this involved an enormous amount of stress resulting from avoidance strategies. She avoided the very thing that she committed to such such as an essay or presentation. The irony, good and productive part of this avoidance was that she did just about everything BUT the thing that she committed to and was stressing her out. When it came down to the wire she always got the work done. She was highly efficient (there were only 10 hrs remaining before the paper was due) and she got a lot done in the meantime through this productive procrastination approach. I know she was extremely productive during these times – in fact I was often drawn in and became part of her productive procrastination which led to our little team of two or three being highly productive.

    I wonder how many others in your cohort feel similar to you and are in a similar situation (on chpt. 3 and paper is due in 2.5 days). My guess is most.

    I like Wilberforce’s quote about giving others space to think. A step further is to have dialogue about those thoughts that are not so PC. These are the hard questions without easy answers. I like the idea of learning in an experiential way and discover truth themselves rather than spoon fed “truths” guided/required by design from the teacher.

    You asked:

    “What silly things have you considered doing for life? Are you doing them now or did you write them off long ago as too silly?”

    I thought about trying to cleverly tie together the seven principles in some way that leads to an answer to these questions but that would be silly. Then I thought what isn’t silly? Then I thought what does silly mean exactly?

    Websters: archaic :
    a) helpless, weak
    b) rustic, plain
    c) obsolete : lowly in station : humble
    d) weak in intellect : foolish
    e) exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment
    f) trifling, frivolous

    Then I considered that Pam may have a very different meaning of silly that Mr. Webster.

    To me silly means “not serious or particularly important in many ways”

    To answer your question – it’s really a matter of the silly things I have not yet experienced as many of the things I aspire to do or have done seem quite silly to me in many ways. What is it that makes a behavior not silly? There are obvious answers – I’m wondering about the every day – daydreams people have. The things people dream about doing. Personally most of these things are silly. They might be perceived as “crazy” “brave” “courageous” “dangerous” “exciting” “fun” — they are silly. I think a life without silly is lacking.

    I don’t think there are more than 3 or 4 things that I’ve written off as too silly to do since I came up with the silly idea. I think it is worth considering the potentially serious, worthwhile, life changing consequences or opportunities that exist inside of “silly”.

    Are there important, worthwhile, perhaps profound experiences, thoughts and feelings that arise from “silly” as the catalyst? If I’m making sense here – (I suspect there’s a 50% probability of being coherent with these ideas) – do you have any experiences of “important – non silly” outcomes that are a direct result of being inside of a particular kind of silly?

    I think I may have blog comment remorse tomorrow – here we go – I’m posting this silly post right now.

    1. “Productive Procrastination”.. I do this as well. I clean things I hate to clean, organize nearly forgotten piles of papers, sort through clothes to create a give-away bag, write long blog posts, text friends incessantly… all the things I normally put off become my favorite activities when some other, bigger task is calling to be done.

      But it actually becomes a small war inside to WORRY and read about Jesus at the same time. Sort of like complaining in the middle of a hug. It gives me a good laugh at myself. Which might look crazy to an onlooker… stressed, encouraged, laughing, stressed, encouraged…..
      Hmmm… TIRED.

      I am delighted by the fact that you seriously consider silliness.

      Your 50% probability reminds me of my nephew Randall. He also makes up statistics and then freely admits he made them up. I find made up statistics 40% more interesting than real ones. But then again, made up statistics are also 85% less helpful than real statistics.

      Here is something a little silly. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to be a better human being. It suddenly sounds a little like trying to breath more oxygen. How can I not be a good human being since I can actually be nothing besides a human being?
      Maybe that is what I need to be learning… how to stop trying to be anything but human. I mean that in the best sort of way.

      I was just inspired in the last chapter I finished about Authenticity (next is chapter 5! WHOO!) it talked about how the four Gospels in the New Testament were written by the disciples and yet they paint a rather unattractive picture of themselves throughout. Why didn’t they spin it so that they looked smarter and holier?? Maybe because they didn’t care about their image because their image had nothing to do with the awesomeness of who Jesus is and what He did.
      I can apply this to me, I believe…and you… I will continue to be Peggy and Hallelujah, Jesus will continue to be Himself.

      I know there is more I could say but my eyes are crossing and I should dive into Storytelling. This has been another episode of productive/effective procrastination 🙂
      Thank you for your thoughtful/silly comment!

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