Procrastination has become part of our professional and personal lives. But it may not always be a bad thing. More than ever, procrastination is being embraced in a positive way. It can boost your own time management and help you be more productive in the long run. Better yet, people who procrastinate might actually be more productive than those who don’t. Read on for more reasons why positive procrastination can actually be a good thing.
What Is Positive Procrastination?
Before jumping into a definition of positive procrastination, it’s important to understand how negative procrastination is defined so you can see the variance. With negative procrastination, things are put off because we simply don’t want or don’t have the time to do them. It can stem from laziness, poor time management or just a general sense of not wanting to do the work.
On the other hand, positive procrastination is something else entirely. In this case, things are not put off indefinitely. Instead, positive procrastinators will schedule a time to complete a task on a later date or time. Positive procrastinators make sure they have time in their calendar to complete a task prior to its deadline and knock out anything that is more urgent or tasks that require more attention.
Benefits of Positive Procrastination
If you don’t allow procrastination to get the better of you, it can be a handy motivator. Read on to learn how.
Get More Done
The reality is that people who engage in this habit get more done. Dr Piers Steel coined the term “Positive Procrastination.” He believes that up to 95 percent of the population procrastinates. What he also believes is that people who feel guilty about procrastinating end up doing more to compensate for that guilt.
While you may not be focusing on your main task while procrastinating, you can cross off other items on your to-do list. It could be as basic as going through your email, cleaning your house or anything in between. In the end, you will circle back to the task you procrastinated on and finish it.
Make Better Decisions
It may sound odd, but positive procrastination will likely result in you making better decisions overall. By delaying a task or decision that is not urgent yet needs to get done, you allow extra time to think about the right choices. Positive procrastination ensures that you can take some time to weigh your next steps and, in the interim, complete more time-sensitive tasks on your to-do list. Then, when it is time to jump into your project, task or decision, you can do so feeling more informed having had more time to weigh pros and cons as well as thinking about the next steps.
Forced to Focus
Ironically, the closer to a deadline you get, the more you will double down on completing a task. That may result in you ignoring some email, silencing your phone and tuning out colleagues for a while. Concentrating on a single task, if only for a few hours or a few days, will really enable your focus. Karin Peeters, coach and psychotherapist at Inner Pilgrim, says that “working close to a deadline increases focus and concentration.”
There is a balance of just how much time you need for a project, but if you manage your timing right, some procrastination can result in vastly improved work. If you do not believe you can manage delaying this task until the last minute, break it into smaller tasks and set a hard deadline for each part. That will still allow you the benefits of positive procrastination and focus without the fear of a looming deadline.
Say Goodbye to Perfectionism
Another major but often overlooked benefit of positive procrastination is that it will reduce or eliminate your inner perfectionist. One of the biggest downsides of having too much time to complete a project is that you can think about it too much. That should not be taken as instructing you to wait until the last minute while leaving your work sloppy.
However, positive procrastination will help you complete work and say this is good enough, allowing you to move on to whatever is next. Too much opportunity to overanalyze your work can have too many downsides, both for the work and your own mental wellbeing. Leaving perfectionism behind is going to allow you not only to be more efficient with your time but also help reduce the stress level that comes with deadlines.
Become More Creative
Like it does with making better decisions, positive procrastination can help you become more creative. Think of the last time you had a project that you were positive was too big or difficult to accomplish. Did you end up finishing it anyway? With positive procrastination, you are able to think of a new way to complete your task.
In the same regard, taking a break allows your mind time to wander and look for new ideas. It’s during these times that a new approach to a project will likely present itself. Take a walk, play a game or watch TV for a while and allow new ideas to present themselves when you are not feeling pressured. This creativity is formed by not focusing on the first plan that was devised to solve a problem or complete a task. Instead, additional time enables the creative side of your mind to look for new ideas.
Understanding how and why procrastination can be beneficial can completely alter the way you work. The end result is that you will end up feeling less stressed and more prepared to take on new projects. For a long time, procrastination has been viewed as something to be shunned or frowned upon. That shouldn’t be the whole story. We know that procrastinating for the sake of doing so is not going to be helpful. However, practicing positive procrastination to work better, smarter and more efficiently can have many tangible benefits in the long run.