There is a moment of brilliance in every human being. It’s the moment when you see things as they could be and not just as they are. That’s when innovation happens, new ideas are born, and great works of art are created. So what does this have to do with procrastination?
Well, some claim that productive procrastination is that very moment of brilliance. It’s your creative spark that helps you think outside the box and solve problems in a unique way. Some even go as far as to say that productive procrastination, in fact, is using the time you would normally waste to come up with ideas that can lead to greater productivity later on. Whether it is working out or cleaning your room—procrastinating in a productive way can increase your performance at work, school or any other activity where you need to be focused.
However, will tricking yourself into being productive lead to even more procrastination on the most important tasks? And how will it affect your long-term goals? Here, we will explore in detail the benefits and pitfalls of productive procrastination so you can use it without falling into the trap of never getting the most important things done!
What is Productive Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of delaying a task or action until a future time. It is not always a bad thing, it can actually be beneficial to your health and productivity if you use it in the right way. There are different types of procrastination, and not all of them are equal. In fact, there is one type of procrastination that, some claim, can actually help you become more productive. The type of procrastination that leads to greater productivity is a phenomenon known as “deferred action.” It simply means that you are doing another useful task in the present while delaying a task that you either don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing right now. And this is known as Productive Procrastination!
The concept of productive procrastination means you are using the time you would normally waste to come up with ideas that can lead to greater productivity later on.
There are many benefits to productive procrastination. Perhaps the most important one is that it allows you to explore new ideas and creativity. The reason for this is that when you procrastinate you are doing something that you don’t have to do. You are putting off a task that you have to do by engaging in different activities. This gives you the freedom to explore new and different ideas because there is no pressure. When you have the freedom to explore and create new ideas, you can start to come up with truly groundbreaking ideas and solutions. When you are in a situation where you have to solve a problem, you may feel stressed and pressured to come up with a solution. This can make it much more difficult to explore new ideas and come up with truly innovative solutions.
Secondly, sometimes the urge to delay a task that you dread doing is so strong that you will come up with a hundred other tasks to complete. This may result in you being 10 times more productive than you would normally be, just so you can mask the feelings of guilt of not doing what you should be doing and trick your brain into thinking there are other more important tasks to complete first. In this sense, procrastination creates productivity!
Thirdly, productive procrastination gets the ball rolling. Sometimes, all we need to get started is to complete a couple of easier, less stressful tasks to muster up the energy or courage that we need to tackle the biggest most important tasks. Once you are in the grove, you may find yourself finally initiating what you set out to do in the first place.
The Pitfalls of Productive Procrastination
While there are many benefits to productive procrastination, there are also a few drawbacks. And these should not be taken lightly, as the consequences to your overall productivity and life may be more detrimental than you may think.
One of the most obvious disadvantages of productive procrastination is that you feel good when you are productive. Completing one easy task after another, and checking things off your list may feel amazing, giving you a sense of achievement and reduced anxiety. Whilst this sounds extremely positive, this lack of negative emotion or pressure will only encourage you to delay the most important task on your list even further.
What is more, being productive comes at a price of reduced energy levels as you progress. Even if you’re an extremely driven and energetic person, after cleaning the house, doing the laundry and raking the leaves n the garden, you may feel too tired to start the task that you were procrastinating on in the first place. This way you are simply sabotaging your productivity and success.
Completing a range of tasks, but failing to work towards the most important task that aligns with your longer-term goals, will see you busy and productive, but not getting the desired ultimate goals.
Perhaps the most important pitfall of productive procrastination manifests itself when delaying tasks that are interlinked with a bigger project, or tasks that need to be completed in order to initiate the next steps. For example, if a member of your family relies on you to clear out the garage in order to use it for a dance class rehearsal, you will be stalling the bigger task in the background. And if your task has a clear completion deadline, your productive procrastination will only cause anxiety and stress to both yourself and the people relying on you.
How To Use Productive Procrastination To Your Advantage?
The fact that you are a productive procrastinator is, in a way good news. You enjoy being productive and completing a variety of tasks instead of being lazy or choosing entertainment and pleasure over being efficient and working towards getting your life in order. However, delaying the most important things on your to-do list will prevent you from achieving your long-term goals. Here are a few ways to use productive procrastination to your advantage.
Alternating Productive Procrastination With The Action You’re Delaying
Starting a task that you really don’t wan to do is the most difficult thing. Once you’re doing it, you tend to feel differently, so the actual initiation may be the biggest problem that you are facing. The 2-minute rule introduced to the world by David Allen and then explored in detail for habit building by James Clear, is a wonderful thing to start a task without fully committing.
Commit to a task for 2 minutes. Just 2 minutes – then you can stop, and procrastinate again, by doing other productive things for half an hour. Start a task again for 2 minutes only, and alternate it with other productive procrastination. After a few of these iterations, you may feel that it is actually irritating to keep switching between tasks and trick yourself into completing the task you didn’t want to do to start with.
Pomodoro Technique For Productive Procrastinators
One of the most renowned productivity methods – the Pomodoro Technique – is perfect for focusing on a task for 20 minutes. You may be well aware of not being able to finish what you started, but it does give you enough time to get a significant amount of work done, with the knowledge that the pain, stress or other discomforts that task brings you will be over soon. Complete a Pomodoro focusing on a task, then feel free to productively procrastinate in any way you want on your next Pomodoro session. Keep alternating them in order to get the ball rolling in the actions you are actively delaying. Learn more about how to use Pomodoro Technique for Productivity here.
Identifying yourself as a Productive Procrastinator will certainly help you find the right tools to use in order to use your natural ways of doing things to your advantage. Now that you know what productive procrastination is and how to do it, it’s time to put it to use in your everyday life!
Procrastination is a fact of life for most (all?) people. It’s only when you let it take over your life that it becomes a problem. Being a productive procrastinator, you already have an advantage over people who choose pleasures and entertainment over tackling tasks on their to-do lists. Embrace your natural ways of getting things done, but make sure to use the right tools and techniques to force yourself into action for the tasks that you are most likely to delay. By doing this, you will be able to find a balance between the two, be more productive in your everyday life and do your best to get the ball rolling in achieving your long-term goals.
Next On The Topic Of Procrastination
If you are striving for personal growth and continuous development of your productivity skills, you may be interested in other techniques that prove very efficient for some of our readers. Have a look at some of the articles below to see what might work for you:
- The Perfectionism Procrastination Loop: How To Break The Cycle?
- The 5-Second Rule: How Can It Help You Beat Procrastination?
- Self-Reward System To Beat Procrastination And Boost Productivity
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