Three Cheers For Sloth, Indolence, And Procrastination!

Few people have many good reference points for self-forgiveness and a sense of humor in this world of increasingly too much to do.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

"Folks, can we hear it for sloth, indolence, and procrastination!!!!!???" (Thunderous applause and raucous cheers.)

That's how I'm starting many of my seminars these days. And it always gets thunderous applause and raucous cheers. I think it hits a nerve.

Why? Because few people have many good reference points for self-forgiveness and a sense of humor in this world of increasingly too much to do.

I've been working on both (self-forgiveness and sense of humor) for decades now, and still find it quite challenging for myself at times. But you know, when I'm in a loving, whole and healthy state of mind about myself and about life, everything's cool. Where I am, doing what I'm doing, is exactly where I need to be and what I need to do. Tomorrow is just fine right where it is, not showing up until then.

And I don't seem to get to that wonderful state of mind by working harder and faster. Sometimes it helps, but more often it just perpetuates the angst.

I get there by letting go, softening my grip, getting quiet. That's when I can get a peek between the seconds, and in the particularly delicious moments experience the grandeur of just being. That doesn't happen by working harder or smarter. It doesn't happen by working at all. It just happens.

But there is a skill, an awareness, a knowing about letting it happen, recognizing the value of those moments, and loosening up the strangle-hold we often put on too many things that don't deserve the seriousness. Then those things that just happen, happen more often.

You can't know sloth, indolence and procrastination without having a reference point of the opposites of those. It's just the polarities of human experience. And if you actually did get it all done, Time would be out of a job.

At this time of year it's appropriate to talk about one of the most mysterious best practices in self-management: the art of speeding up by slowing down.

I am making the assumption that we are all on some track of improvement and growth to begin with. I mean, why speed up, instead of slow down, as an end-result? If we were here to merely fulfill entropy, the thicker, duller, slower, and generally more unconscious we became, the more on track we would experience ourselves. I have to admit I do have some component that seems to align with that -- my comedy team of Sloth and Indolence, with their cute little assistant, Gravity.

But there is a more dynamic and more "real" part of me, and of you. It is naturally buoyant, has direction, is continually expansive and is in upward movement. The trick is how to maximize our alignment with that, how to truly access more and more of that refreshing, rewarding, and fulfilling aspect of ourselves. Is working harder required to get there? No.

One of the most subtle ways the better aspect of us retreats is in busy-ness. Losing perspective in trying to control everything, finish it all, fix it all -- all at once. Getting things done out of frustration instead of inspiration. Helping out of compulsion, not compassion. (Which kind of gardening did you do yesterday?)

One of the greatest lessons I have learned and continually must practice is that in order to really be in control, I must surrender. In the martial arts (and golf) things must be held lightly. Grabbing too tight, whether it's my ego, my trowel, or my action lists, can be dangerous and ultimately ineffective. I must at a moment's notice be ready to let go, walk away from it all, and do nothing. Nothing at all. I think I'll practice it some more.


You can find out more about David Allen and GTD at

Come back every Monday for more tips on productivity from David Allen.

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds