If you are a procrastinator, there are ways you can still be productive even while procrastinating.
Do you get attracted to non-essential things while doing your important tasks? Have you ever felt the temptation to engage in activities or tasks that are not at all useful? Do you often feel that you are not doing what you should be doing?
If this sounds remotely like you, then read on to learn how to still be productive even while procrastinating.
What is Productive Procrastination?
“. . . anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” — Robert Benchley, in Chips off the Old Benchley, 1949
If you are trying to prevent procrastination and are taking steps to deal with the habit, I am by no means suggesting that you continue to procrastinate.
Look at it this way. You probably feel ashamed and disappointed in yourself every time you procrastinate.
You feel this way because you have wasted time doing unimportant things and your important tasks are not getting done.
This is where Productive Procrastination comes in!
Productive Procrastination is also known as Structured Procrastination. It simply means doing meaningful tasks while delaying important ones.
The concept was popularized by John Perry, who also coined its other name, Structured Procrastination.
How this makes sense is that you won’t feel ashamed or disappointed in yourself for not doing important tasks, if you were able to complete some beneficial ones.
This way, you can avoid the feelings of negativity and guilt that comes from engaging in procrastination.
This method is not to get you to continue to procrastinate. It is beneficial when used correctly.
You should still continue your efforts to prevent procrastination because chronic procrastination can lead to various issues.
Advantages of Productive Procrastination
When used correctly, structured procrastination can convert even the worst procrastinator into effective, productive people.
Here’s the thing.
The problem with procrastination is not that you aren’t doing anything.
The problem is that you are putting off your important tasks and busying yourself with meaningless ones.
The idea behind Structured Procrastination is to make the habit of doing “other things” work for you.
As a procrastinator, you can be encouraged to do difficult or important tasks, if these tasks provide a way of getting out of doing more important tasks.
It’s a mind thing.
In your mind, you will have your list of tasks ordered by importance. But below the important ones, there will be tasks that are meaningful and need to get done.
Doing those tasks of lesser importance is a way of not doing the unpleasant tasks that are highest on the list.
By applying this concept, you can still get things done.
But wait. When do the important tasks that are highest on the list get done?
Disadvantages of Productive Procrastination
To be fair, we need to look at both sides of the coin. Let’s talk about the disadvantages of Productive Procrastination.
So you are procrastinating and still being productive. What’s not to love about that?
But are you being as productive as you think? Being busy and being productive are two entirely different things.
Let’s say you are a college student. You have a thirty page thesis to write that is due in two weeks.
Instead of doing the important tasks related to your thesis like doing the research, drafting the outline, etc, you instead decide to:
- Organize your files on your computer
- Decide what classes you are going to take next semester
- Start applying for jobs on campus for summer break
- Go shopping for highlighters because it makes your notes look better
Wow! You got a lot done.
Were you being productive? Yes
Are you a productive student? I don’t think so.
You took the time to get all those unimportant tasks done and neglected the most important one. Your thesis.
As I said earlier in this post. My suggestion to procrastinators is to continue their efforts at preventing procrastination.
If you use the concept of structured procrastination wrong, you will fall into an unproductive cycle without even being aware of it.
You’ll be “busy” getting a lot done and feeling good about your “accomplishments.”
Your brain will produce dopamine which will encourage you to continue on this path, all while killing your productivity and sabotaging your own success.
Tips for Using Productive Procrastination Correctly
Productive Procrastination may be a good servant but a bad master. Here are some tips to guide you on how to apply the concept to your benefit.
Learn How to Communicate with Yourself
When you procrastinate you are left with feelings of guilt and shame.
To deal with this self-guilt, you immerse yourself into doing activities that bring you pleasure. This will get your mind off the guilty feelings in the short term.
…and then you realize that you just had another procrastination episode.
As a procrastinator, knowing how to communicate with yourself and how to sort out your feelings are key components of managing the habit.
When you understand how you feel and why you feel that way, you will be better able to choose the correct activities or actions to get your desired result.
Productivity is Not All or Nothing
What if your procrastination is not a waste of time. Instead, it becomes something useful for you?
You don’t have to look at productivity as all or nothing. You don’t have to consider yourself as unproductive simply because you didn’t get everything done that you set out to do.
You may be delaying a big task but in the meantime you can do other tasks that are productive and beneficial.
Just don’t put off the big task for too long. Choose a time and place when you are most productive and start chipping away at it. Early mornings at my kitchen table is when I get the most done.
Procrastination is a very negative habit that will (steal your time) and sabotage your life and hopes you have of (being successful).
Still, productive procrastination is better than just completely wasting your time and there are benefits you can achieve by applying it.
If you are struggling with preventing procrastination, then apply this concept of productive procrastination. Not as a bandaid effect but as an interim solution.
Never give up your efforts to stop procrastinating!
Let us know in the comments about any additional ideas you have.