The power of positive procrastination

Sitting at my desk on Friday afternoon wondering what I should do next. It’s 4pm and I need to be out by 5pm today to meet with friends in the city. This is where procrastination kicks in:


  • Should I do this task which will take roughly 1 hour?
  • Should I try to tick a few more things off my list?

Too hard to choose: – I will check my emails again to see if anything new has arrived, I spend a few minutes moving some emails to different folders, I also open a web page to quickly read some news but without paying too much attention. Suddenly it’s 5pm! Let’s get out of here!

Do you recognise yourself here? Maybe a little bit…?

This person has just wasted an hour through procrastination and procrastinating is something we all do, whether a hard worker or not. Some people however are able to turn it to their advantage and ride the wave of ‘positive procrastination’. Here’s how you can do it, too.

IDENTIFYING WHEN YOU PROCRASTINATE

The first step is to identify when you start procrastinating. Here are 6 early signs:

  • Not being sure what to do next or not really wanting to do what you are supposed to do. (This can be a result of a lack of organisation.)
  • Being tired and using it that as an excuse not to do something
  • Anything becomes a distraction.
  • Being overwhelmed by a task or letting ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good’.
  • Doing things that are not planned – which may or may not relate to your work.
  • Browsing the Internet without real purpose.

There’s no silver bullet for procrastination, but here are some ideas which might help you to turn your procrastination into positive and valuable time.

POSITIVE PROCRASTINATION

It is fine to switch off your brain sometimes. You don’t need to be focused 10 hours a day on work and tasks that you have to tick off. In fact, very few can concentrate for such a long period of time. What is important is what you do when you want to switch off and re-energise. Checking Facebook every 5 minutes or returning to a favourite website repeatedly, is not likely to add much value. However, let’s look at some of the activities that you could do that will actually add value, and make you feel really good along the way:

  • Call a friend.
    Simple, always nice and also extremely important to keep in touch with people. If you are one those who stay on the phone for hours then avoid it, but if it is just to arrange your next catch up, it should be a lot shorter and can be way more efficient (and personal) than email.
  • Read an article about an important topic that enriches you in some way:
    World news, politics, business, arts, technology – all can be valuable. But stay away from click-bait articles – they’re just noise. As you read the article, try not be impatient and skip to the end, but rather think about what you have gleaned, what you would like to share with other people and most importantly build your opinion about the topic.
  • Draw.
    It’s amazing but everyone can draw. You just need to learn! There are so many great videos on YouTube which can teach the basics of drawing in just minutes. Drawing is extremely relaxing and many find it immensely satisfying. You might just discover a new passion.

These are only a few examples of positive procrastination but you could think of others: cooking a good meal, going for a walk outside for 10 minutes, reading to your child, removing the clutter on your desk, etc.

So don’t always think procrastination is bad. If you talk to some artists or writers, they will even tell you it is required to unleash their creative mind.