In a world where everyone is in a hurry to get everything done, the fine art of putting off until tomorrow what you can do today just doesn’t get enough respect. It’s true that being the first, the fastest, and the most productive can be a wonderful thing most of the time.
However, there are a few positive aspects to procrastination that can actually help you achieve and get important things done as well.
Here are five useful tips for making conscious procrastination work to your advantage:
1. Choose which tasks to procrastinate with
Author of Wait, Frank Portnoy, defines procrastination as the art of managing delay. His take on procrastination is that everyone should use it to help achieve greater success by using a structured approach. You see, not every task or job should be given the same priority. Any task that is critical or necessary to your job or your well-being should be given a higher priority than tasks that are merely pastimes or time wasters.
The idea is that if you procrastinate by doing other high priority tasks, rather than allowing yourself to lounge in front of the Xbox all day playing Call of Duty, the net effect is that you are still getting important things done.
This novel approach to procrastinating actually makes it possible to be more productive than ever before. It also has the one very important added benefit: the nonessential and low priority tasks naturally go away because they keep getting put off until they are no longer necessary.
“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” – Victor Klam
2. Overloaded schedules must be prioritized
It is human nature to fill our schedules to the breaking point with every task imaginable. Everyone optimistically tends to overestimate how much they can get done when they are building a schedule.But if we are honest with ourselves, we can sort between those things that are non-negotiable and must be done and those things that are just wishful thinking – the stuff we would love to do if we had the time, but that won’t really matter if it doesn’t get done. You might be surprised to find out just how much of your schedule is filled with wishful thinking type of tasks.
3. Leaving it until the last minute can lead to better decisions
If you notice yourself putting off making a difficult decision, feel free to use this delay to do any necessary research. You can be sure that the new information you acquire will eventually help you to make a better decision. Moreover, the looming deadline will force you to stop any waffling or dithering which happens most often when you’ve got too much time on your hands to constantly second guess yourself.
Sometimes making a decision right before a deadline is the right thing to do – even if it seems rash or premature. Trust yourself and follow your instinct. If you feel that you’re not prepared to make the decision, do everything to delay it. If you approach the deadline with a clear and calm attitude, it doesn’t matter how long it took you to ponder upon the decision, you’ve simply made up your mind.
4. Procrastination can tell you about who you are
John Perry, the author of The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing tells us that procrastination is often our subconscious’ way of sending us a message.
“If you’re a productive person,” according to Perry, “the desire to procrastinate on a task can mean that the task isn’t important or valuable to you. Pay attention to that and ask yourself if you should be doing it at all.”
What it essentially means is that you should never blindly push yourself to accomplish one task after the other. Perhaps sometimes sacrificing your time to things which you feel aren’t really worth the effort.
Listen to your instinct and if you find yourself procrastinating on a task, don’t get irritated, but consciously ask yourself where this feeling comes from. Perhaps it’s your mind’s way of telling you that what you are trying to do is worth neither your time nor your effort.
“Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Edward Young
5. Procrastination can make you more creative
For many people, thinking is a large part of procrastinating. This can be particularly helpful when given a task that at first seems too difficult for you to do. When this happens, the thinking you do while you are procrastinating can lead you to come up with better or more creative ways to finish the job.
Perry advises that, “If you go back through history of human culture and take away every invention that was made by someone who was supposed to be doing something else, I’m willing to bet there wouldn’t be a lot left.”
In short, don’t get angry or irritated at yourself for procrastinating. If your mind needs a breath of fresh air and a moment of relaxation, just succumb to it and you’ll learn that it’s simply worth it. Once your procrastination phase is over, you’ll emerge with an active and fresh mind, ready to tackle any problem in the most creative ways possible.
As you can see, if done consciously, procrastination might actually bring you great results in both your professional and your personal life, allowing you to learn, gain and do more. Just remember to be smart and focus on those tasks that can truly benefit you.