Questions that Reveal the Difference Between Procrastination and Prioritization

to do list

Most us would have to confess that we feel too busy. We have so many things to do that we spend inordinate amounts of time either running from task to task, absorbed in an activity that really doesn’t matter or sitting paralyzed as we agonize over what to do next.

The anxiety that accompanies this kind of dilemma is not healthy and extremely counter productive. So how does one attack that list of “To Do’s” in a productive way.

Knowing the difference between procrastination and prioritization is the key to productivity, and the antidote to guilt and insanity.

Know the difference between procrastination and prioritization! Here is a partial list of tasks I “thought” I needed to do after getting home late yesterday afternoon.

  • Pack for my next trip
  • Write this post
  • Move furniture
  • Watch television
  • Check my e-mail
  • Update Facebook
  • Clean the garage
  • Unfollow people who have fallen for some spam scam
  • Tweet
  • Twitter
  • Fritter
  • Go fishing with my five-year-old grandson

With a couple of obvious exceptions, every thing on the list was “important.” So I answered these questions to prioritize what would come next. They seem so simple but helped me move through a never ending To Do list and remain functionally sane.

  • What can be done later? – Fritter Tweet E-mail Unfollow spammers
  • What will move my life forward? – Most of what is on the list
  • What can only be done if I do it now? – Making an adventure for a little boy
  • What will have the most impact? – See the above answer
  • What doesn’t ever have to be done – Watch -Television – Fritter –

When I asked myself these questions, the sun was beginning to set. One item shot to the top of the priority list………,

Go fishing with my grandson.

I would only be with him one more day, then not see him for the rest of the summer. He had gently been prodding me to go fishing for two days. Everything else could wait. It was a good choice.

We created a memory that will last forever.
On this day and in this moment, this was my highest priority.  Click to watch</a>” width=”2281″ height=”1587″ class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-4849″ /></a></p>
<h6>On this day and in this moment, this was my highest priority. <a href=Click to watch.

This morning when the sun rose much of the list still existed. But the priorities had changed. Here is how I decided to take this moment to write this post.

  • It needed to be done but couldn’t be done later.
  • It is a part of what I do that moves my life forward.
  • Of all the tasks I can do right this moment, this is the most important.

I usually exercise first thing in the morning. That moved to second on the priority list this morning. I will be running up the mountain the minute I finish this post.

To move a project to another time slot because something else is more important is not procrastination, it is prioritization.

Here is an example of procrastination.

I need to work on developing a new comedy show. This is HARD unglamorous WORK. It requires research and collaboration with other people. It has to be done and there is a definite deadline.

I am not drawn to hard unglamorous work, so I choose to reorganize my book shelf. Even with a deadline looming, I suddenly realize how important it is to polish the motorcycle, find an old high school year book, brush the cat’s teeth, sharpen pencils, anything but the hard work that really needs to be done. That’s procrastination.

So I confess. My name is Ken Davis and I am a procrastinator, but with the help of God and some mentor friends, I am slowly learning to become a prioritizer. How about you?

[reminder] How do you prioritize? How do you procrastinate? How do you know the difference? [/reminder]

I highly recommend Michael Hyatt’s free book Creating a Personal Life Plan. When you prioritize your life, it becomes easier to prioritize your day.


  1. Ken, I’ve been there. Spent a dozen days with my youngest grandson (he’s 8) a few weeks ago. Fished 10 days and made great memories. Next week will have my oldest (15) for a few days. Plan on fishing or doing something he would like to do on the farm every day. He’s on the verge of girls and cars replacing papaw. Gotta get those days while we can.

  2. My prioritization procedure is confusing at best to those around me. I have a list of things that need to be done saved in my brain, then I misplace the list only to be found at the most inconvenient times. I usually remember what needs to be done at midnight and then I either getup to do it or I fight the urge and go back to sleep only to lose the list again. This method also works for procrastinating. they only way I ever notice the difference is when someone asks, “What in the (expletive deleted) are you doing that at midnight? I told you that this project needed to be done someday, not Sunday.” this is generally followed up with, Why didn’t you do the other project that needed to be done yesterday?” It’s at that moment that I remember what tasks I’ve been procrastinating about.

  3. I was going to join Proscrastinators Anonymous…but there was no one there…found out that their meetings are always postponed until the next day…

    1. Is this the organization that publishes the yearly calendar for procrastinators? I had one a few years ago, and loved it. When I went to buy one for the next year, I procrastinated until they sold out and I couldn’t get my hands on one… true story!

  4. Super cute video….Tyler’s big and Romeo is so big now too. Tennessee has been so cool this summer you wouldn’t believe it, especially the last two weeks! Dinner when you guys get home!

  5. Taking care of the cat seems like a worthy option when procrastinating. I like that one! I don’t have a cat, so maybe I should get one just to brush its teeth the next time I want to avoid work (I’ve over-used the other options). My previous experience with cats is that they don’t usually cooperate, so I might end up avoiding the oral hygiene task and have one more thing to feel bad about…. Nope, I won’t be getting a cat. I’ll keep working on that priority thing instead.

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