Can Procrastination Make You More Productive?
“It’s midnight, I know I have work to do the next day.
I try to get a good night’s sleep so that I am productive in the morning.
At work, grabbing coffee with co-workers.
Checking email. Checking social media though I have done it in bed in the morning already.
Getting back to reading random articles.
It’s nearly lunchtime.
OK, I’ll do the work after lunch.
Feeling sleepy after eating…”
45% of TruePublic poll respondents “strongly agree” and 37% “agree” with the statement “I often procrastinate.”
Additionally, most of the poll respondents (70%) said they are currently procrastinating.
But what if procrastination is not that bad? What if it doesn’t have a negative effect on your productivity and more importantly, it’s not something caused by the lack of motivation?
In an Inc.com article, Procrastination Can Actually Make You More Productive, Eric Mack says that the problem with procrastination isn’t that you do it. According to him, it’s more about how you feel about it.
In fact, when asked which bad habit they did most in the past year, most of the question respondents (47%) on TruePublic said: “procrastinated on work.” The rest of the votes went to eating unhealthy food (34%), spending over the budget (7%), and sleeping past the alarm (12%).
Nick Wignall, in his article Productive Procrastination: How to Get More Done by Procrastinating on Purpose, states the following:
“Most people don’t procrastinate to avoid work; they procrastinate to avoid the negative feelings that come from misinterpreting the urge to procrastinate.
The initial urge to procrastinate is not the problem. It’s all the other negative emotions that we heap on ourselves by thinking of procrastination as a bad thing.”
Wignall himself admits that he does have a tendency to procrastinate at least as much as most people do. However, he doesn’t fight it. Instead, he uses his urge to procrastinate to be more productive.
How is this even possible?
Well, there are a few things you could do to achieve the so-called productive procrastination.
Getting rid of self-shaming
Procrastination is not a sign of weakness or a lack of focus. If you start viewing it that way, you might as well start negative self-talk. This will eventually lead to a feeling of shame and disappointment.
Wignall advises to “ditch the negative self-talk.”
He also suggests noticing when you react negatively and replace it with an alternative thought like: “Just because I feel the urge to procrastinate doesn’t mean that’s who I am or that I can’t also be productive.”
Procrastinating on something useful
Jordan Gonen cites the following idea in his article My Favorite Productivity Hack: Structured Procrastination:
“Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.”
As soon as you stop blaming yourself for procrastinating, make sure you start practicing what they call productive procrastination. This is to make sure that your little distractions are also productive.
Some people love watching cat videos. But are they a productive way of procrastinating?
Instead, having a pile of books on your working table might be a better means to distract from work. Here are a few simple things you can do whenever you don’t feel like working:
- Stand up and stretch
- Go for a short walk
- Organize your desk
- Organize your desktop and files
- Read an article on Medium
- Watch a short video tutorial
Procrastinating in small amounts to avoid procrastinating in big amounts later
Wignall says that when he allows himself to procrastinate in small ways regularly, it helps him avoid procrastination in bigger ways.
Some people are capable of huge amounts of focused work, while others are not.
It’s not something to get sad about.
Instead, procrastinating right at the moment when you feel the need will give you the chance to avoid bigger troubles later.
The key takeaway here is that we all could view procrastination from a different perspective. Procrastinating might not be that bad of an experience in the long run, especially if you know what you should be doing during the moments of procrastination. Picking something useful to do can be especially effective. Most importantly, it’s key to avoid self-shaming and negative self-talk.
Feeling more motivated now?
Now that you are done reading this article get back to work and rock it!