Quite an old article crossed my path earlier, Good and Bad Procrastination, which is quite an interesting take on procrastination, reminding me that things can be procrastinated for good reasons as well as unproductive ones
Good in a sense, at least. The people who want you to do the errands won't think it's good. But you probably have to annoy them if you want to get anything done. The mildest seeming people, if they want to do real work, all have a certain degree of ruthlessness when it comes to avoiding errands.Some errands, like replying to letters, go away if you ignore them (perhaps taking friends with them). Others, like mowing the lawn, or filing tax returns, only get worse if you put them off. In principle it shouldn't work to put off the second kind of errand. You're going to have to do whatever it is eventually. Why not (as past-due notices are always saying) do it now?The reason it pays to put off even those errands is that real work needs two things errands don't: big chunks of time, and the right mood. If you get inspired by some project, it can be a net win to blow off everything you were supposed to do for the next few days to work on it. Yes, those errands may cost you more time when you finally get around to them. But if you get a lot done during those few days, you will be net more productive.
There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I'd argue, is good procrastination.
Hamming's exercise can be generalized to:
What's the best thing you could be working on, and why aren't you?
reminds me of three questions I wrote down after reading Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done, Today!
What are my highest value activities?
What can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a real difference?
What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
I actually have these printed out on the wall next to my desk as a reminder which I do refer to, but I don't live by them.
This week, I'm going to think about all the things I have as recurring tasks on my todo list and see how many of them are in my list because they are high value, or need my skills and how many could find new owners.