By very definition, productive leaders get things done. They relish ticking off the priorities on their to-do list. One task at a time, they accomplish an amazing amount of work in a day. The satisfaction that comes from being productive is a narcotic that keeps the train of productivity rolling.
Of course, not all tasks and priorities are created equal. The most urgent and most important push aside less critical tasks. Working on the priorities that add the most immediate value is what good leaders do. As a result, they are constantly prioritizing and reprioritizing what is most important and demands the greatest attention now.
But leaders are people, too, and they do what everyone does on occasion. They procrastinate.
Strangely, however, they procrastinate in an unusually productive way which gives the illusion that they are not procrastinating at all. They push important tasks off to the side and replace them with tasks that don’t matter nearly as much. Not surprisingly, they make great progress on these less urgent and less critical tasks, giving themselves and others the impression they are being highly productive.
More often than not, productive procrastinators fool themselves, or at least talk themselves into elevating the importance of minor tasks. Keeping themselves extremely busy and checking off to-do items feels nearly as satisfying.
Unfortunately, the most important assignments end up taking a back seat. This comes to the detriment of true productivity and performance.
Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does.
Everyone is guilty now and again. Catch yourself when you’re doing it. Ask whether the tasks you are focused on are the highest priority. Have the discipline not to trick yourself into thinking, “What’s the issue, I’m getting a lot done!”
No one escapes what is essential by completing beautifully what is unimportant.
What is procrastination for you?
For leaders, it's typically not laziness or poor time-management skills.
So what is it?
Your insights on "productive procrastination" have genuinely resonated with me. It's fascinating to see how leaders can fall into this trap, focusing on less critical tasks while appearing busy and efficient. Your observations serve as a crucial reminder for everyone, regardless of their position, to be mindful of their priorities and stay focused on what genuinely matters.
As you mentioned, self-awareness and discipline are key in avoiding the pitfalls of mistaking busyness for true productivity. Your passage encourages readers to reflect on their own habits and to continually reassess their priorities.