Productive Procrastination, or, “The Dog Ate My Homework”?

You’ve been there. You’ve met that demon. And its name is “Productive Procrastination.”

As I work with coaching clients, I realize that there comes a point in every engagement when my coaching clients try to explain why they didn’t do what they said they would do. And often, these reasons seem highly plausible if not downright rational.

My question, though, is this: is it a truly legitimate reason for not accomplishing your goal, or are you the victim of productive procrastination (which, by the way, sounds a whole lot like “the dog ate my homework”).

I’m not judging. But I want to ask you the question: is this truly a legitimate issue, or are you merely trying to legitimize why you didn’t honor your commitment (to yourself) to write?

Explore some of these clever reasons why the writing assignment wasn’t completed, and YOU be your own judge as to whether you should give yourself a pass or own up to the fact that you decided to reprioritize your work.

  • I needed to do some additional research.
  • I decided on a different thesis statement for my book.
  • I got a big client engagement and I needed to cancel my writing time.
  • I realize I have too much information for this book.
  • I realize that I have too little information for this book, so I’ll need to do some additional research (see item #1 above).
  • The content outline (TOC) just didn’t work.
  • I needed to polish the story I wrote (that doesn’t count as writing time–that’s editing!).
  • I had to rearrange my office furniture so that I’d be more productive in the office.
  • I needed to clear off my desk and clean my office.
  • I started working on another important assignment.
  • I don’t know what happened.
  • I had some important emails to answer.
  • I needed to catch up on Facebook (I’m really not buying this one).
  • I was behind on the laundry (now you’re really desperate!).


Every reason on this list could in fact be legitimate, so if you find yourself facing these issues, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this truly a legitimate reason for not honoring my commitment to write?
  • What would happen if I didn’t do this item (right now)?
  • Is this activity/task more important that having my book completed (or moved forward)?
  • Can I make up the writing time I missed by cancelling some other task or activity?
  • Will this task genuinely help me move my project forward, or is it merely a delay tactic for the real work I need to do?
  • Do I believe I am worthy of having a book?


You be your own judge!

I’d love to hear some of your best “Productive Procrastination Ploys” so that we can help one another spot these writing roadblocks.

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