Intentional Procrastination – How I Beat My Work Deadlines by @cluttershrink

How Putting Off What I’d Rather Do Led to Being More Productiveby Crystal Sabalaske | Featured Contributor

by Crystal Sabalaske | Featured Contributor

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown

Some people get an adrenaline rush when they procrastinate. The thrill of beating a deadline is reason enough to put off a dreaded task. Others think they do their “best work” when pushed against a deadline. The rest of us….well, we would just rather spend as much time as possible doing anything but the tasks we have to do.

Do Work or Get Ready to Go to the Beach?

Just recently, I had eight work related deadlines within a two-day period. I also had to pack for my family’s upcoming, week-long beach vacation.

The organizer in me typically takes the exercise of packing to the extreme. I create lists upon lists of items to pack, errands to run, and house related maintenance responsibilities to complete. I also use packing as an opportunity to empty everything out of and reorganize every closet in my house. This is also when I change out our summer clothes for fall clothes. I turn packing for a week into a three-week endeavor. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it’s something I’ve always done. It’s the designated time I set aside to organize our closets.

To be truthful, if I had only had one or two work related deadlines, I would have torn my closets apart and feverishly sorted through all items, tormenting my children as I went along by forcing them to try on all their clothes. After all, I like organizing! I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’m done. Who wouldn’t? I reward myself for my hard work by going on vacation, and then I get to return home to beautifully organized closets.

It Was Time to Do the Smart Thing

Eight deadlines at the same time, however, gave me a reason to pause. I knew if I started organizing and packing, I’d use that project as an excuse not to do anything else.

I invoked the power of intentional procrastination. I made the conscious choice to put off doing what I enjoy, packing and organizing, until the very last minute. I came to this decision after I weighed the possible outcomes of delaying my work responsibilities against my packing for vacation duties. Failing to meet a work deadline would have greater negative consequences than leaving my closets in a less than perfect state and forgetting to pack a toothbrush. I told myself that I would wait to pack until the day before vacation. The closet organizing would have to wait until I returned from vacation.

I was left with almost three weeks to focus on my work related tasks.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I don’t need three weeks to pack. I was actually a lot less stressed prior to my vacation because I wasn’t looking at clothes that needed to be sorted or partially packed suitcases for almost a month.
  • I conquered my work related deadlines one at a time, in order of importance, by devoting a day or two to each task.

The result? I completed everything in advance of the deadline. What a great feeling that was!

Dr. Joseph Ferrari’s research discovered that 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. If you find yourself procrastinating, check out these tips to stop procrastinating from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project or try what I call intentional procrastination – putting off the things you enjoy so you can be more focused on doing the things you don’t. You just might surprise yourself with how productive you can be.


Crystal SabalaskeCrystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices since 2002. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines. 

Crystal’s philosophy about organizing involves making simple changes based on an individual’s needs at work and at home. While she is committed to getting job done, she’s not at all serious and tries infuse the process of organizing with a little bit of fun.

Being organized saves time, money, and relationships, and when you maximize the potential in those aspects of your life, you have more time to focus on doing things that truly make you happy. For Crystal, those activities involve singing, reading, taking walks, spending time with her family, making up twisted tunes, brainstorming about her next business idea, and drinking iced tea.

In addition to hands-on home and office organizing, Crystal shares her passion for organizing by offering virtual coaching for individuals and workshops for business and social groups. She also offers relocation organizing services and thinks that after moving 18 times, she knows what it takes to get the job done right. If you really want to get Crystal fired up, just ask her to speak about organizing your kitchen for food allergies. She helps her family manage 19 of them!

Crystal is always enthusiastic to share organizing tips and strategies via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. 

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3 Replies to “Intentional Procrastination – How I Beat My Work Deadlines by @cluttershrink”

  1. Vanessa

    Wow! Three weeks to pack… that is impressive! 🙂 I work best with deadlines and a bit of procrastination! LOL! This was a fun read.

  2. Katie @ Cup of Tea

    I haven’t thought about this before – but you’re right! It’s so easy to decide to tackle a fun project instead of doing the tasks that need done.

    1. Crystal Sabalaske[ Post Author ]

      It took me awhile to learn…Just get the yucky stuff done first, and then everything after that will seem like a gift.

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