Leaders – Don’t procrastinate, percolate!

So, I woke up and through the night it had snowed and as a result it was chaos outside. I live in a part of the world that when it snows, everything seems to grind to a halt. Traffic was horrendous and I’d been sat in a queue for 20 minutes going no-where. So, I quickly made a call and re-arranged the meetings to the following day and then I head back home.

A snow day!! Great, I thought…I’ll get on with that big piece of work that needs to be done…all enthusiastic and motivated at the thought of having an unexpected free day (even though all I’d done was re-shuffle my week slightly)

So, what did I do?

A) Go straight to my laptop and start beavering away?

B) Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start planning?


C) Go straight to the kitchen and start cooking a very complicated and elaborate meal for dinner later?

Yep, you guessed it….C!!

So, there I was having a marvellous time chopping and stirring and measuring humming along to myself when the phone rang and it was Dave

Hi how are you getting on? You on with your work?”

“Nope” – I replied – “I’m cooking”

“Cooking? Why? I thought you had stuff to do?”

“Yeah I do – I’m really busy”

“Then why are you cooking?”

“Because I’m letting it percolate”

Let me tell you what I mean by this. To me ‘procrastination’ has got a bit of a bad rep as it seems to be a bit of a catch all for wasting time doing something (anything) when you should be working on something a lot more important.  I’m sure you can remember back at school when you needed to revise but all of a sudden cleaning your room was by far the best thing ever – or creating that beautiful revision calendar using all the colours of the rainbow instead of studying…

But sometimes giving your brain a break to ‘percolate’ is a great thing to do to boost your productivity in the long run. Whilst you’re on with something else, your brain is still mulling things over so that when you do get down to the task in hand, you’re already half way there in terms of your thinking.

So, how do you percolate and not procrastinate?

1. Follow your own lead

You can’t lie to yourself. You know deep down inside whether you’re simply doing your filing to put off starting that important task, or whether you just need time to think. Listen to how you feel and take note.

2.Find out what it feels like when you’re percolating an idea

For me procrastination comes with a big dose of guilt because you secretly know you should be on with something else and you’re actually working at putting it off. Percolation on the other hand doesn’t feel like this at all. I feel calm, and quite happy with the other task that I’m doing and I’m not really thinking about the main job at all. So, that when I finish I’m quite happy to go back to work knowing that I’ll be off and running in no time feeling refreshed and very motivated.

3.Know when enough’s enough

Percolation isn’t an excuse to not get done what you need to. It’s just a way of allowing you some thinking space whilst you’re doing something else that takes your mind off it. When you feel it turning into the ‘urgh’ feeling that comes with procrastination the time has come for you to get busy and on with your work.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on procrastination, and of course percolation and whether this works for you. Let me know by leaving a comment, and if you think it would be useful for your network by all means share away.


  1. Radhika

    Hi Barbara, hope you’re doing well. We’re waiting for snow in Aberdeen. It’s great to divert yourself and get creative to relax busy brains. As women, we can’t stop thinking even before we are about to sleep. We’re multi-tasking almost all the time and some days like above, will definitely help us to rejuvenate in our own way. Thanks for sharing the article!

    • Barbara Nixon

      Hi Radhika, Lovely to hear from you. Yes you’re right it’s easy to just keep going, but sometimes we get more done in the long run when we allow ourselves the space to stop for a while. Glad you liked it. Have a great weekend.


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