How Passion and Procrastination Can Help You Get Ahead in Your Career

03/04/2015 09:45 am ET | Updated May 04, 2015

2015-03-02-entrepreneur593352_12803.jpgSo much of the conversation about tapping into our personal passions and what lights up our soul has to do with being very clear, open, honest, and authentic with ourselves about what we love to do, what we're good at, what ignites that deepest fire in our belly, and what gets us up and moving quickly.

On the flip side of this is procrastination. Procrastination is a dirty word in the corporate vernacular. Procrastination is a cardinal sin in most organizations and procrastinators are often looked down upon and at times vilified.

Rightly so. Most of us are familiar with the ineffective, career derailing procrastination that results in error filled documents, incomplete reports or additional work for colleagues.

However, is there a connection between passion and procrastination? My answer -- yes. Passion drives procrastination -- high performance procrastination. It shows us very quickly what lights us up, what drives results, what engages us and others -- and, on the flip side, what doesn't. Procrastination begets clarity. And that clarity enables you to access passion and get ahead in your career.

How, you ask?

High performance procrastination empowers others to solve problems.

Have you ever received an email from a colleague or a direct report alerting you to a problem or an issue? I imagine this happens frequently throughout your day. Now think back to a time where you read the email and then did not respond. You let the email sit in your inbox. As the hours wore on, the problem was resolved -- without your input. Miraculous! Your procrastination -- your lack of action -- created the space and the opportunity for your colleague or direct report to resolve the problem. You empowered them to solve the problem. Your ability to empower others is an essential component of leadership. Consistently demonstrate this skill and you will advance your career.

High performance procrastination helps us cull our to do lists.

How often have you looked at your to do list and seen for the one hundredth time that pesky task and or project that has been sitting, lingering, growing mold on your list and taking up psychic space. You avoid it -- like the plague! You procrastinate! However, your procrastination around this item is actually very informative. How important is this task or project? Is it connected to one of your goals or a broader strategic goal of the organization? Cull your task list and let go. High performance procrastination points you to the tasks and projects that probably need to go. Effective leaders focus high revenue, strategic tasks. Become laser like in your focus and execution and watch your career soar.

High performance procrastination aids us in initiating work at the ideal time.

I'll get to that later. No, I am not going to work on that project today. These are the familiar refrains that run through our heads as we put off, yet again, that task or project because it is too hard, too overwhelming, boring -- you fill in the blank. However, high performance procrastination actually assists us in getting the work done at the ideal time. The high performance procrastinator waits to be inspired. Inspiration does not strike on a timetable. High performance procrastinators use another task or project to stimulate their thinking on all of their projects and tasks. So, yes, they could be said to be procrastinating, however, they are actually leveraging their brain's systems to provide insights and ideas on multiple projects at once. When inspiration strikes, they will be ready and complete their task or project at the ideal time.

High performance procrastination shows us what has real meaning, purpose and interest for us.

High performance procrastination opens a window to look inside ourselves. There is a reason you are procrastinating. High performance procrastination shows us what we fear, do not want to do, what does not have our attention or interest, and/or does connect with our sense of meaning and purpose. This is very useful information -- high performance, career advancing information. If I can name my fears, examine why I do not want to do a project, or why I am not interested -- then I am able to take a step forward. The clearer you are on what you want and how you add value the greater your value in your organization.

Try it! Embrace high performance procrastination. It just might produce the clarity you need to get ahead in your career and work with your passion.

Your Next Action Steps:

  • Check your inbox at regular intervals throughout your workday. Do not leave it open and up all day. Open it, process your email messages and then get out. The delay between checking and responding to email will enable you to pause and not respond immediately to all incoming messages.
  • Look at your to do list. Anything that has been on your list for over three months probably needs to be reevaluated and probably removed. If a task would have grown mold if left in your pantry or fridge it is time to throw it out.
  • Listen closely this week to what your colleagues compliment you on. These are your strengths. Leverage your strengths and seek out projects and opportunities that allow you to showcase them.
  • Get really clear on how you work and your productivity style can fuel your passion. Take the Productivity Style Assessment here.
  • Order Work Simply for more strategies, tips, tools, and resources to tap back into your personal passion and make an impact personally and professionally.