I am a procrastinator. It’s the truth, no way around it. In fact, I’m writing this post as a way to procrastinate on another post I should be writing! I know that all the books, self-help coaches and what not tell you that procrastination is the devil (or something equally dramatic). I have a different theory, though. I think rather than trying to change deeply ingrained habits, we can learn to use them to our benefit.
Benefits of Procrastination (Yes, they do exist!)
Let me tell you a story. When I was a journalism student, I wrote many articles and always got fantastic grades. I spent hours on those articles, writing them days or weeks before the deadline. Then one week I got busy and put something off. I wrote the article late at night, pounding out what I thought was a half-arsed piece that would probably kill my beautiful GPA.
My instructor said it was my best piece ever. WHAT? How could it be better than the I poured my soul and time into writing?
Fast-forward a few years to my content mill writing career. I wrote hundreds of articles for a particular mill. Guess which ones got the highest praise? Not the pieces that I spent hours on. Nope. The articles that I churned out at the last minute did better than my painstakingly thought-out pieces.
Why are my quick and dirty pieces better than the articles that I spend hours on? Pressure. I write well under the wire. In my opinion, procrastination is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to perform well under intense pressure.
It boils down to this: when you procrastinate, you don’t have time to overthink. The best way to ruin anything, whether it’s an article or a recipe, is by overthinking it. When you overthink, you second guess yourself. You complicate the process. You waste time.
Procrastinating actually SAVES time…if you do it right.
How do you procrastinate the right way? Simple. Use the time you’re spending avoiding one thing to work on other things that benefit your life. When I’m procrastinating writing a particular blog post I do any of the following:
- Write an entirely different post (like this one!)
- Make a list of all the things I’m avoiding and organize it, sometimes even with color-coded labels, so that I can feel like I’ve accomplished something. I actually have accomplished something because now I have a handy to-do list.
- Spend time working on my Pinterest boards. This benefits me in numerous ways because it builds my following, gives me inspiration and helps me relax.
- Read up on blogging, social media and photography tips so I can learn something new.
- Play Skylanders with my son. Bonding is never a waste of time!
While I’m doing all of those things, some part of my brain is working on the very thing I’m avoiding. It’s not obvious at the time, but when I sit down to finally do the task, it’s like my mind has already finished it. I just need to bring it into the world. Our brains are amazing. They can do more than one thing at a time. You just need to tell it what you want to work on!
Try it! Next time you have something on your to-do list that you just don’t feel like doing right now, decide to procrastinate with purpose. Spend your time doing something else that benefits your career, family or even just your sanity. But before you start procrastinating, think about the thing you want to get done for a few minutes. Tell your brain to get started on that. Then go about your procrastinating.
Obviously, you don’t want to procrastinate until the very last minute, but go ahead and get close to that deadline. When it’s approaching, just write (or sing, dance, craft, cook, whatever it is you need to get done). Don’t think about it too much, just let it flow. You may be surprised to find out just how much time you save by procrastinating.
Maybe this won’t work for everyone, but if you’re already procrastinating, it’s worth a try, don’t you think?
Are you a procrastinator? How have you used it to your benefit? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!