The Benefits of Procrastinating

The Benefits of Procrastinating


We’ve all been there – staring bleary eyed at a computer screen, digging deep for motivation or inspiration that seems to have taken a temporary hiatus just when we need it most.

Or, glued to the television set, watching the minutes tick by as the guilt of procrastination ruminates in our stomach.

There’s certainly no shortage of literature on procrastination – causes for it, tips for combating it, etc. – but is it really as bad as we make it out to be?

Maybe not.

Here are five benefits to procrastinating and putting off a dreaded (or not so dreaded) task.

1. Active procrastinators can often create better work under pressure.

Not everyone produces their best work stretched out over long periods of time. In fact, some flourish when they are given a tight time constraint and a strict deadline.

For those who know that this is how they operate, sometimes becoming an active procrastinator – one who deliberately chooses to complete tasks at the last minute – is a good thing.

But the active part is key – knowing this is how you operate and consciously deciding to do so cuts down on the guilt we associate with procrastination.

It’s the guilt and subsequent consequences – lower self-esteem, etc. – that is often more of an issue than the procrastination itself.

2. Procrastinating allows time for ideas to ruminate and flourish on their own.

In today’s modern workplace where efficiency and cost-cutting are key, we often try to stay firmly in control of time. But sometimes ideas can’t be prodded into fruition because we need them in the here and now.

Walking away from a task in order to allow an idea or solution to come to you organically can, in the end, be significantly more productive than trying to pull something out of thin air.

Plus, this can keep frustration at bay – something that pushes many of us to give up before anything has been accomplished.

3. Relaxation can be more beneficial in the long-run than working harder and longer.

In our society we’ve been trained to believe that working longer hours means we’re getting more done, but in reality, that’s not exactly the case.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the cost of lost productivity in the workplace due to sleepiness (caused in part by overworking) is close to $18 billion.

So while working more may seem like a good solution, it may actually be hindering your ability to get things done.

If relaxation is what you need, than it’s a-ok to put certain tasks on the back burner. You might be cutting down on the time you have to complete a task, but you’ll probably find that you are more equipped to handle that task after a quick nap, or whatever else you need to calm your body and mind.

4. Procrastination can cut down on busy work.

When it comes to completing a project or task, we tend to make it expand or contract depending on the amount of time we have allotted. In other words, we can make a one hour project take three hours if time allows.

Therefore, procrastination can force us to only complete what needs to be completed – instantly cutting out all the busy work we like to use to fill the extra time.

5. Procrastination offers a chance to plan ahead.

We may have been told it’s a good idea to jump in to a task headfirst, but getting started on something before taking some time to think it through and plan ahead can lead to unexpected obstacles and issues later on down the road.

Productive procrastination – i.e. thinking and sitting with an idea before acting – can make everything run smoother and can give you ample time to address potential problems before they arise. Not to mention the fact that you can entertain several different courses of action before taking a significant amount of time on one that doesn’t work.

If you’re still not convinced that procrastinating can actually be productive, check out these tips for procrastinating productively (yes, it is possible).

Do you think procrastination can be beneficial? How do you procrastinate productively?

Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


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Kayla Albert spent two years plugging away as a freelance writer before taking a job as a community manager for a local newspaper. She enjoys writing about productivity and personal growth topics. You can also find her at ThinkSimpleNow.com

Discussion

  1. Cecilia Harry on the 22nd May

    I personally don’t like the feeling of uncertainty that comes with procrastination, yet it is one my best friends! In school, I found my work was always better when I waited until the very last minute to start writing the paper, staying up all night.

    Now, in my professional life, I still procrastinate, but I’ve reframed it because the stakes are too high at work. (It’s not just me that with succeed/fai, it’s my company, its image, and the image of my coworkers. I can’t risk that.) I take my projects and break them down into action steps, and then I procrastinate on each action step, so I’m still getting everything done on time. Weird?

  2. Heather Parrish on the 22nd May

    If it weren’t for procrastination on mentally demanding tasks I would never get any of my menial work done. If I weren’t avoiding researching living trusts, process optimization, or diagraming workflows, then I would never have any clean laundry.

    • I so relate to this one! We have a running joke in my household that doing an annoying chore suddenly becomes a lot more appealing when there’s an even more burdensome task at hand. 🙂

  3. This makes me feel a little better about procrastinating these days. I especially agree with number 3, short term rest is always best for long term productivity!

  4. Why You Need a Website on the 26th May

    Yeah I always have had a problem with procrastination. The one thing i do agree with though is when my back is against the wall I get it done it bad to wait to the end but in that time i manage to always get it done.

  5. Melbourne Counsellor on the 2nd June

    There’s a great article written by a psychotherapist about why people procrastinate – helps highlight some of the psychological and emotional benefits http://www.paulthecounsellor.com.au/why-do-people-procrastinate/

  6. Quentin on the 5th June

    Great list! I was just explaining to my wife why my procrastination is an asset, not a hindrance. Now I have some points to back me up! 😉

  7. Jerich on the 14th July

    I usually don’t jump ahead and stick to early sked. What I do is sit back, zoom out and turn on my imagination skills. To some, it may look like procrastinating, but to us who operate first by imagination + planning is actually an asset or a style.

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