Why it helps to put things off until later

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What would you do if you had five minutes to chop down a tree?

An experienced person would spend the first two and a half minutes sharpening his or her axe.

Putting things off is a form of laziness – isn’t it?

How many people do we know that are too busy working on their work to spend any time thinking about their work.

How many business owners are working so hard in the business that they have no time to work on the business.

Most of us are trying to create value – to be useful in some way.

Our abilities to think, reason and create help us write books, solve problems, design structures and do myriad other things.

But we don’t arrive at the end result in a nice, linear way – starting by creating a plan and following it until we succeed.

There are often a few detours along the way, strange encounters and experiences that inform and infuse what we do.

Let’s say we have a task to do. Just putting it off for a while and doing something else doesn’t mean that the task has been forgotten.

Instead our brains put the idea on the back burner, simmering away.

In that period between being aware of the task and doing work on it, the brain beavers away and pulls out connections, thoughts, associations and extrapolations that would not have been available had we just started working.

We might even stumble over something new. An idea from a different discipline or an unrelated activity may be the perfect thing to use in our situation.

Procrastination – the act of delaying something – may in fact be one of the most useful skills we have.

Taking the time to sharpen an axe might mean that we can do the job better and faster.

Taking the time to think might mean that we see something new – come up with a radically different idea or result.

We throw our ideas into the air and, like a paper plane, they come to rest somewhere new and unexpected.

And that’s more interesting than just getting on with the way things are done right now.

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