Ok, so this is a productivity blog and it may sound ridiculous if someone says that procrastination can make you more productive.
When you look at procrastination from a traditional point of view, it is indeed something you want to fight against.
However, there is another side to procrastination and it can actually help you in your everyday work. So check out these four tips on how you can turn procrastination from an enemy into an ally.
1. Give more room for the important tasks
If you feel like procrastinating, why not drive that energy towards a low value task?
One of the lessons I learned after reading Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog (aff link) was that one could procrastinate on low value tasks, while giving room for the more valuable ones.
Let’s say that today is a deadline for your project. You still have plenty of work to do, not to mention that you have also other tasks on your list for today as well.
One of these other tasks is mowing the lawn. But since you are aware of your project’s deadline, you decide to postpone the yard work ‘till tomorrow.
As you can see from this example, there are times when you can safely postpone something (more specifically, a low value task), to give more room for the higher priority task.
2. Take advantage of structured and unstructured procrastination
When we talk about procrastination, the typical discussion emphasizes its downsides: guilt, low self-esteem, or being unable to reach one’s goals and potential. However, procrastination has its other, brighter, side too, and it can actually help you to get stuff done in your work day.
Enter structured and unstructured procrastination. The former means postponing your main task, while you take care of other tasks instead. In the latter, you use procrastination to increase your energy reserves, by doing something creative.
For instance, let’s say your main task is to write a report. But if you take the structured procrastination route, instead you could:
- Organize your workspace
- Do some planning related to your tasks
- Finally write that reply to the customer inquiry
- Maintain your computer (declutter the file system, uninstall unimportant applications ...)
But with unstructured procrastination, you could do things like:
- Take a nap
So even if you are not working on your main task, you are still doing something else valuable. This other stuff could help you clear other tasks off your list or help you execute your main task better.
3. Automatic cleaning of your task list
Every now and then you may find yourself happily surprised when you look at your task list: an assignment you were supposed to do is no longer valid and you can check it off your to-do list.
Let’s imagine that you are an author and you’d like to start your own podcast show sometime in the future. You put this project into your task list, but never start even planning the project in the first place.
Then, sometime later, you happen to sign a major deal with a publishing house, leaving you no room for podcasting. Since the circumstances have changed around you, the podcast show plan becomes invalid, making it safe to get it off your list.
4. Prepare mentally for something
You are working through your task list as usual. Then, all of a sudden, you remember that you have to give a speech in three days.
You make a decision to skip the next tasks and start preparing mentally for the speech instead. You imagine standing in front of the crowd, presenting your material, and even figuring out some jokes that you tell to the audience.
Postponing these other tasks gives you more room to think about the speech and prepare for it mentally (at least for me, the mental preparation is very important, because it helps me to tackle the stage fright).
In this case, the procrastination helps you to perform your main task better, making it a help instead of a hindrance.
Would you like to learn about 44 ways to tackle the procrastination?
I just explained four ways to take advantage of procrastination. And while you can definitely make procrastination work for you, I think that the action taker path is more beneficial in the long run.
Procrastination can be used to your favour when done strategically, but if it turns into a habit, then you are in a trouble: you miss your deadlines and you never get your important work done.
This is why I have written a book, Overcoming Procrastination: 44 Actionable Tips to Take Control of Your Life, and for the next few days (till 7th of March), you get it for a discounted price of $0.99 in Amazon (or the corresponding price in your country). After 14th, the price will bump up to $2.99 (after 5pm EST).
You can download and purchase this book even if you don't own a Kindle:
- Kindle for PC and Mac (Cloud Reader, read through your web browser)
- Kindle for iPhone and iPad
- Kindle for iPhone and iPad
On top of downloading my book, Overcoming Procrastination: 44 Actionable Tips to Take Control of Your Life, I have also written a special report that presents 15 tools for overcoming procrastination. I think that this report is a great companion for those who decide to purchase the book.
So hurry, because the special launch price won’t last forever!