Have you ever intentionally put off a school assignment or work project until the last minute? Most of us have been guilty of procrastinating at some point, although we may not want to admit it. However, there are instances when the act of procrastinating – delaying or postponing something1 – can enhance production and boost creativity!2
Which Type of Procrastinator Are You?
You may find that intentionally delaying something forces you to produce more quickly.3 When the pressure is on, instincts kick in and decisions must be made. Unfortunately, working under pressure can also result in a decrease in the quality of work produced.3 The key is identifying what you are doing while procrastinating and whether it is helping you or hindering your production.
According to a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, procrastinators may be identified in two groups: passive and active.4 Passive procrastinators don’t intentionally procrastinate. They do, however, have an inability to make quick decisions and thus postpone decision making. Furthermore, passive procrastinators are more likely to give up and fail to finish a task.4
Active procrastinators, on the other hand, can make timely decisions but will put things on the back burner if there are other tasks that rank more important. Also, active procrastinators may enjoy the challenge of working under pressure and can be motivated when doing so.4
Practical Procrastination Techniques for Anyone
If you have a tendency to put off work, there are productive ways to procrastinate actively:
- Set Strict Deadlines – Time management is essential. As soon as you’re assigned a project or research paper, and before you even begin working, set deadlines.3 If you find yourself struggling, you’ll have time to ask questions, refocus, and determine what steps you need to take to move forward and complete the task. In the end, you may discover that setting deadlines allowed you to beef up your productivity and eliminate unnecessary tasks.3
- Pretend to Enjoy What You’re Doing – While this suggestion may sound a bit odd, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY suggests how pretending to enjoy what you’re doing for just 10-15 minutes may help you refocus as well as promote enjoyment and production.1
- Begin Before You’re Ready – Brainstorm and write down questions that need to be answered. Then, when you do begin working on the task, your purpose may be clearer and you may also have a better idea of the direction you want to go in and how you want to conclude.1
- Research – When working on an assignment, some form of research may be required. However, your research doesn’t always need to involve solitary confinement with book and pen in hand. For inspiration and clarity, consider visiting a museum or watching a documentary that relates to your topic.5
- Take a Nap – Sleep allows the memory to become stronger post-learning.1 In fact, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY notes how taking a break can help strengthen our memory and improve production. When too much time is spent on a task, our focus decreases.1
Structure Your Procrastination Wisely
What is the lesson to be learned? Structured procrastination can lead to greater creativity and increased production.2 When you procrastinate, you’re likely doing something else in its place and may, therefore, accomplish even more. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that take a bit more time to discover, and may also end up being the most creative.2
As you work toward earning your degree at CTU or are given new responsibilities in the workplace, remember that each of us learns and produces differently. Therefore, you need to go with what works best for you. When do you struggle, take a step back and assess what may be causing the problem.
1. Gurung Ph.D., Regan A.R. "Elevate Your Game with Productive Procrastination." Psychology Today. Published June 18, 2018. Accessed August 25, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-psychological-pundit/201806/elevate-your-game-productive-procrastination
2. Grant, Adam. "Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate." The New York Times. Published January 16, 2016. Accessed August 25, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/opinion/sunday/why-i-taught-myself-to-procrastinate.html
3. Moore, Don A. and Tenney, Elizabeth R. "Time Pressure, Performance, and Productivity." Published 2012. Accessed August 25, 2018. http://learnmoore.org/mooredata/TPND.pdf
4. Hsin Chun Chu,, Angela and Nam Choi, Jin. "Rethinking Procrastination: Positive Effects of "Active" Procrastination Behavior on Attitudes and Performance." The Journal of Social Psychology, 2005, 145(3), 245–264. Published January 25, 2005. Accessed August 25, 2018. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c1b1/f754fd7b9e285529943d8657341413c1c7cf.pdf
5. Blum, Jenna. "Productive Procrastination: 7 Creative Activities to Distract Yourself from Writing." Writer’s Digest. Published July 12, 2018. Accessed August 25, 2018. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/creative-writing-exercises/productive-procrastination-creative-activities-distract-writing