Can procrastination be good?

Want to Get More Things Done? Try Procrastinating!

Karen Caccavo Financial Organizing, Productivity

Can procrastination be good?  An article by Adam Grant in The New York Times asserted that when facing creative challenges, procrastinating can actually yield better results.  To illustrate, the writer tells of almost finishing an article but putting it aside.  Then, before submitting it, he found new inspiration and ending up submitting a more interesting piece.

Surprise!  Procrastination is a positive after all.

Not so fast!  Creative challenges –a solution to a sticky situation or a complex plan–are the type of projects that can benefit from procrastination.  Procrastinating gives your brain more time to ruminate over ideas and solutions, yielding results that may not have popped up immediately. But with less creative tasks, it just produces anxiety and slipshod results (see #4).

How do you know when it is OK, even beneficial, to procrastinate?  Here some ideas:

Start

with a “laundry list” of things to do. Everything of importance should be included on the list.

Identify tasks

that require your creativity and that most interest you. How about the other ones—consider delegating or “outsourcing” them.  (That’s what financial organizing clients of Personal Money Manager have done with their paperwork responsibilities.)

For creative jobs, make a modest start

immediately, or work on them in small chunks of time. That way, your mind starts “cogitating” on the problem/project.  Start your creative juices flowing (as my Mom would say) to get the benefit of what the author calls positive procrastination.

Avoid

the form of procrastination that leads to up-against-a-deadline brinksmanship. It produces worse, not better results.  A task may take longer than you think, so waiting until the last minute may mean it doesn’t get finished at all.

Dig deeper

What is behind your procrastination?  Could it be denial?  Rebelliousness?  Are you procrastinating because you fear failure?  If so, try lowering your standards.  Aim for “good enough” and you might surprise yourself!  Or, maybe the job doesn’t need to be done at all.  If so, don’t put it off.  Give yourself a break and take it off your mental or written “to-do” list.

Not sure if procrastinating yields better or worse results for you?  Just wait and see 🙂