Do You Procrastinate or Incubate?

small_business_bloggingRemember that killer blog post idea you had a while back? Still sitting on it? Are you in love with the concept but beating yourself up about not finishing (or starting) the piece? Perhaps you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.

Last week, one of my contacts tweeted an article by Robert Biswas-Diener on called: Are you a procrastinator or incubator? The piece outlines the clear difference between putting things on the “back burner” and what we all know as classic procrastination. Turns out that subconsciously processing important ideas while doing other things can actually be considered a strength—often leading to superior quality of work.

What’s the difference between a procrastinator and an incubator?

Biswas-Diener defines them clearly:

Procrastinators may have a habit of putting off important work. They may not ever get to projects or they leave projects half-finished. Importantly, when they do complete projects, the quality might be mediocre as a result of their lack of engagement or inability to work well under pressure.”

Incubators have a clear sense of deadlines, confidence that the work will be complete on time, certainty that the work would be of superior quality and the ability to subconsciously process important ideas while doing other—often recreational—activities. Incubators tend to be bright, creative people with an amazing gift to work hard under pressure. As such, they can be very dependable in work situations that require last-minute changes or tight deadlines.”

Which one are you?

Most quality bloggers are creative “idea people,” or thought leaders. They’re also quite disciplined. They update their blog regularly and are driven by passion and deadlines. Sounds like a solid bunch of incubators to me!

I shared the CNN article with my blogging network and got a slew of responses. This “incubator” label was extremely validating and liberating. Surprisingly, most of my friends also said that they were a combination of incubator-procrastinator. Indeed, I find that I switch between the two, as well. As I look at the past week, I see a clear pattern: I incubate ideas and concepts. I procrastinate mundane tasks. Where were you, Mr. Biswas-Diener, when I was a copywriter tortured by the balance of deadlines and creativity?!

As bloggers, we can certainly learn to recognize our own tendencies and nurture or manage them accordingly. Here are some ideas…

Embrace Your Inner Incubator

If you now recognize your own incubator tendencies, find ways to facilitate—not force—the process.

  1. Build in incubation time – Allow your mind to wander and float. Watch some movies. Rock out to your favorite new tunes. Give yourself permission to process and simmer, knowing full-well that you’ve got a deadline to meet. Others may see this as procrastination. But you know the real story.
  2. Create an incubation trail – Draft your initial thoughts on a concept or post. Walk away. As you develop “aha” content ideas and phrases, add them to your draft. To keep yourself tracking, be sure to visit your drafts regularly. Personally, this step is essential for me when it’s time to write, as my memory can’t always keep up with the incubation!
  3. Abandon outdated thoughts – Part of incubation is refining ideas and concepts. When you revisit your notes from step 2, give yourself permission to throw out thoughts from two days or even two weeks ago. After all, the further you get down the incubation process, the better. Trust your instincts. Don’t let old notes clutter your progress.
  4. Be ready when incubation is complete! – Sometimes incubation time is short. Sometimes it takes years. Recognize that when you’re ready to “hatch” your idea, you’ll likely be unstoppable and will be on a writing or creation rampage.

Manage Procrastination

You may be an incubator, but you likely still have blogging tasks that bring out your procrastination tendencies. For me, I tend to put off statistical research, image searches and tasks with steep technical learning curves. My only advice here: recognize the tasks you simply don’t enjoy, set a deadline, and stick to it.

As a blogger, do you find that you have incubator and procrastinator tendencies? How do you manage them both?


Deana Goldasich

Deana Goldasich, CEO and founder of Well Planned Web, plans and implements Content Marketing to help clients nurture leads, market their expertise and create an impactful presence online.

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  1. ginacarr on March 2, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing this concept. I am a confirmed incubator with definite procrastinator tendencies. I think I don't feel quite as bad now. 🙂

    I'll keep this in mind as I work on more projects…. tomorrow.

  2. randykeirn on March 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Yeah, I’ve got a new label and I like this one better. I actually like the concept better, but wish it had a better name. I was hoping to offer up some other name choices, but realized that incubator is probably the best one because it infers a reference of time. Besides, it is a lot better than breeder. So…incubator it is.

  3. Deana Goldasich on March 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    LOL, Randy. I know…although “incubator” relieves of us guilt, in concept…it could have a better ring to it. I used to say I “simmer” on ideas. Simmerer? Nah..that's no good either… perhaps I'll think of something by the time we chat on Saturday!

  4. goldasich on June 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    @ronkarr Thanks Ron for the RT of #Blogging and #Writing Tweeps: Do you Procrastination or Incubate? –

  5. ronkarr on June 17, 2010 at 8:41 am

    @goldasich you’re welcome 🙂 Make it a great day!