Procrastination is genius because it hurts.

Have you noticed that procrastination causes you pain? It hurts your heart, it hurts your self-esteem, it hurts your relationships, it hurts your career and it hurts your income.

And just the same way that a pain in your body alerts you to something that needs fixing physically, the psychic pain of procrastination is an important wake up call.

If procrastination didn’t hurt, then you could put stuff off and then just la-di-da around all carefree and happy. But that’s not the way it works – you put your projects off and it’s a weight on your mind and on your heart.

Why is that genius?

Because the pain procrastination causes reminds you that your projects are important to you.

Procrastination is your friend, tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, remember that idea you had? Remember how much you care about it?” And pretty soon that voice is not just gently urging – it’s nagging. Loudly.

Aside: Newsflash: nagging doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with your spouse, it doesn’t work with your kids and even YOU can’t nag you into doing the projects that really matter to you. So if you catch yourself nagging a lot, pick another strategy.

So Here’s My Little Quiz:

I want you to call to mind one particular project you are procrastinating – I know you have lots, but for now, just pick one. Whichever one floats to the top of your head first is fine.

OK? Got a project picked out? Great.

Now – working swiftly and without pondering – answer YES or NO or SORT OF to these 5 questions:

  1. Do you think you will enjoy and learn from working on this project?
  2. Will completing this project make a difference in your life?
  3. Will completing this project make a difference in the world?
  4. Does your soul ache to do it?
  5. Ten years from now, will it matter whether you have done this or not?

Good. Take a minute to make a note about what you notice about your answers.

If you discovered that the project you were thinking about really doesn’t matter to you, then maybe think of another project that does. And for crying out loud – cross that first project off your list or delegate it or something. No sense agonizing over a project you don’t even care

You may have noticed that those five questions are really one question, phrased five different ways. Five different angles of attack on “Does this project truly matter?”

Some of you may find that while you know your project would make a big difference in the world, your soul does not ache to do it. That’s OK. And it’s important information for you if you move forward: don’t expect this project to make your soul sing. You may need to find some other spiritual sustenance while you’re working on this.

Or perhaps you answered, “yes” to every question except the first – that might be an indication that you need to find someone else, or gather a team, to execute this project. Notice what you notice about your own answers.

Procrastination Is Persistent Desire

So now you’ve got a project that you know matters to you, and I’m going to guess it’s mattered to you for a long time. After all this time, you are still thinking about it. It hasn’t fallen away like some things do. Which is great news. When your desire for a project stands the test of time, you can take that as a “sign” that your project is truly part of your life’s calling.

This is an excerpt from my new book, “Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day” to be published by New World Library in early 2014).

{Featured image via Boy Girl Party}