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4 bright aspects of Procrastination


Since childhood, I have always heard procrastination as the most detrimental and dreaded issue in anybody's life.

But the main question is – is procrastination only awful?

I have shaped up my career & personal life in a way where I am proactively managing everything without hassle. But recently I accidentally procrastinated and observed amazing results.

It will be mean on my part if I do not divulge this great piece of information with you all. So here are the 4 bright aspects of procrastination.

1. Procrastination will get you in speed

There is a subtle difference between CAN’T & DON’T. Although, both words negate the probability of something to happen. Let’s take a closer look.

‘Can’t’ justifies the situation where someone could be involved in more important or interesting activity and might do it later. Whereas, ‘Don’t’ clearly pictures the negative & unwilling attitude of a lazy person sitting on a couch.

Yes, I am talking about active procrastination. It is always advised to tackle easier questions before you go for tougher ones. Do you know why? It saves time. A lot of time!

Go back and just review your to-do list. Mark the tasks which are interesting and could be finished quickly and delay the rest tasks for some time since they are either not interesting or may take longer to complete.

Voila! Within few days you will be able to knock down all tasks pretty quickly except the ones which you have delayed. You will feel more confident and motivated. Also, you will have all the time in this world to take on the challenge of finishing rest critical & tedious tasks on your to-do list.

2. Wait for the right moment

We never like rework. But what happens when we get a long email, marked with high importance, from the boss? We immediately read it and try to jump in right away on the necessary job. But within few hours or days, new inputs may come up in the same job which may require you to redo the job. In this case, procrastination can help you taking informed decision and avoid rework.

Also, several scientific researches have shown that best decision comes out at the very last moment. Why? Because time always helps people gauging the best and overall perspective of any job. Author Frank Partnoy beautifully connected ‘Wait’ phenomenon to the effective decision making. According to him, there is art and science of delay.

3. You can find your forte

It’s never easy to understand your strengths. Procrastination will give you enough opportunity to try interesting things and realise your forte. There is no good in "Jack of all trades and master of none".

One of my friends is an avid reader. I have seen him avoiding many important things in his life just to read books. Nothing gave him more pleasure than reading books. Currently, he has written four best seller books and also, he is recognised as one of the most famous bloggers and writer in India.

Even in work, you are expected various types of jobs to perform. But if you can show one thing which you can do exceptionally well, then you could be identified as subject matter expert (SME) in your organisation. These days big companies are looking for people who are specialised.

4. Brings out creativity

Whenever I procrastinated any critical task, I always came up with amazing results. The reason was simple; I had enough time to be creative.

As I told you before, knocking down easier and interesting jobs will provide bigger time window to work on critical tasks. Crucial and important tasks require more brainstorming sessions.

Normally we always have resources and team around us who could provide valuable inputs. But it takes time to collect it, smash it and come out with best inputs. On the other hand, if we work right away on any given critical tasks then we could only fulfil the formality of completing the job with bare minimum requirements.

Conclusion

Procrastination is two faced coin with both positive and negative sides. It is up to us to choose which side are we on?

If you want to reap the benefits of procrastination, then you have to learn the art of procrastinating the right way. Procrastination is no more thief of time if applied tactfully.

Let me know if you know any other good aspects of procrastination?

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Jul 04 at 02:17 PM Steffi Warnecke edited Jul 06 at 08:34 AM
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"you have to learn the art of procrastinating the right way"

I'll do that tomorrow...

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Hmmm... I think you and I have different definitions of "procrastination". For me, doing some other work stuff instead of this work stuff is not procrastination. It's still working.

Procrastination means to not really work, but to waste time. Sometimes you can really celebrate it, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. When I procrastinate, it can help clear my head. It can help to calm down. It's another way to distance yourself from something (a task, where you can't see a good way to go ahead for example) and when you come back there is a chance you have a new idea or approach.

But when I understood your text correctly, your not talking about wasting time doing stuff like looking at goat pictures or scrolling through the newest BOFH excuses or something like that. You're suggesting to just take on another (sometimes easier) task or just take your time with an assignment. So that's not procrastination for me, that's more organizing your work or something like that.

They are good tips, don't get me wrong, but a meme came to mind...

;)

Wiki's definition is the one I have in mind:

Procrastination [...] is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.<br>

So now back to a really fun way of wasting time for me... watching other people play video games. ^^

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Much appreciate for your comment. Please allow me, if I was not able to convey my thoughts in one go. Let’s do it again. There is no way I disagree with you when it comes to procrastination definition. But there is more to it. For instance, how do you define "Waste of Time”? Let me share one example - Someone bunked his Harvard classes for developing social media website. Later he dropped his college and today world know him as founder of Facebook - Mark Zuckerberg. Was he not procrastinating? Of course yes, but then the end result may not reflect waste of time. But if you see from Harvard college perspective then it was “Waste of Time”. I guess there are number of examples about jobs which otherwise never existed decades ago like - Movie critic, Food blogger, etc. All of these people must have procrastinated in a way or the other. But was that bad, not at all. So, it depends how you see it.

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Sure, that depends on the perspective. But I don't think Zuckerberg was thinking he was wasting time when he dabbled with the social network. ^^

When I use the word "procrastinating" when is being done should/would probably recognized by everyone as the same. Otherwise you could say that every kind of hobby is procrastination and I'd guess we agree it's really not. If you do it to avoid doing something else, maybe it could be.

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Hey Steffi,

regarding "So now back to a really fun way of wasting time for me... watching other people play video games. ^^"

Are you also watching SGDQ?

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Nope. I know what it is, but I'm not sooo much into speedrunning.

Just tuned into Twitch and they are playing "Kingdom Hearts 2" at the moment. Yeiks, not my kind of game either. :D

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Ok.. you put this in the coffee corner for discussion.......

If you actively procrastinate, it's not really procrastination..

True procrastination is not something you plan to do. It's something most people do unconsciously. Some people learn to recognize they are procrastinators and adopt time management methods and organization traits to reduce it. They'll never get rid of it.

If you are a true procrastinator, (and not just feeling lazy one day), it can be a lifelong struggle. You must constantly refocus yourself and work to incorporate whatever method(s) you've choose to help avoid procrastination.

I believe that the items you listed are not really a benefit of procrastination, but simply a perceived benefit of other strategies.

1) You seem to indicate procrastination is a time management skill. There are two thoughts to handling tasks. One is to accomplish a few easy tasks to check off a few things that make you feel better and "less cluttered" so you have more energy, more drive, and more time to tackle bigger things. This might be fine if you don't have a lot of little things to do. But it fails a procrastinator in that if they perceive a large block of time to accomplish something, they'll procrastinate until the time becomes a critical factor once again.

The opposite strategy is to prioritize the items. What are the priority items? Then block out a significant amount of time and complete at least one priority item each day, or each half-day maybe depending on est. time needed. If the item isn't due shortly, it probably isn't a priority to a procrastinator. This is more in keeping with the procrastinator who is deadline focused and not effort focused. Procrastinators can't prioritize by effort until they perceive a possible impact to a hard deadline date. Which ties into your number 2 item.

2) If you don't have all the information, to make a decision or act on something, or it eventually, "just goes away" because of some other outside event, doesn't necessary mean procrastination is a good strategy to deal with these things. Recognizing that something might change, or that you don't have the right info, is part of prioritizing the task. So you actively choose to kick this task down the road. That's not really procrastination.

If it still seems to be procrastination and you don't know why you're kicking it down the road it's obviously still not a big enough priority yet in your life. It could be your intuition or subconscious giving you a push that this isn't really all that important of an item or you need to let it sit and percolate for a while.

3) I don't agree with. Procrastination doesn't let you find your forte. In your example all you are doing is allocating more time to something that is more important to you, (reading books in the example). Again, that is not procrastination, it's prioritizing what's important to you at that moment. If you replace task A with activity B, that's not necessarily procrastination. Especially if activity B is value adding to yourself. I.e. mental health, spiritual growth, pursuit of an avocation versus a vocation, etc..

True procrastination is when you substitute a non-value adding activity for something you need to do that by not doing, you jeopardize your job (missing a deadline), health (not getting your blood work done), or well-being (not going to gym or church).

Which brings us to 4. It's not that you HAD enough time to be creative! It's that you now do NOT have enough time which forces you to be creative cause now you are against a real perceived deadline! Procrastinators are also often people who either don't want to make a decision, or can't make a decision. They over-analyze, they always want more info, etc.. Being under stress and under a deadline forces the procrastinator to make the decision, right or wrong. Forced by a deadline it means working or doing what you do best with out really thinking. Letting your mind work on auto-pilot. The saying "Necessity is mother of all inventions" seems like it can apply here. Some people need that stress and impending deadline to free their mind to work. Ask columnists and writers. Some of their best work comes from being under a deadline. Even Abraham Lincoln might be considered a procrastinator.

According to history he started writing the Gettysburg address two weeks before giving it. but, like a true procrastinator he only completed the first page. He finished it the night before his speech in the house he was staying in at Gettysburg. The conventional myth was it was done on the back of an envelope or on the train. Both of those are myths. He waited until the night before.

But I wouldn't say any of these people actively choose procrastination as a strategy. It's not something we think about and say.. "hey. I'll just wait until the last minute cause it's better for me to work that way". For true procrastinators, it just happens without them trying to do it.

I consider myself a procrastinator. I don't like it. Overall, I don't think it's a strategy of working that should be encouraged. Maybe justifying it makes people feel better. But it shouldn't be something we encourage. Procrastinators will procrastinate. It doesn't need encouragement. Kind of like being a drug addict or alcoholic.

But the world needs procrastinators too.

On a positive side, procrastinators can be great team members and can bring a lot of great attributes. There are times, that for whatever reason, legitimate reasons, that a project or issue is under a strict timeline. Procrastinators DO work well under pressure because they've had lots of practice at it. When given short or tight deadlines, they will usually make the right decisions under great pressure. They can often work for long periods of time and stay focused.

They'll make great troubleshooters if it's a time sensitive issue and high priority issue. Don't give them issues to resolve that have been sitting on someone's desk for the past six months. If it wasn't a priority for someone else, it certainly won't be for a procrastinator. Give them the issue that needs solving by 8 AM tomorrow and you'll rarely be let down. Also, give them ONE thing to work on, two tops. With short deadlines. No more than two weeks. When given multiple things to work on, they'll prioritize by procrastination, i.e by what is time sensitive not necessarily by effort required to accomplish.

If on a project team, make sure you give them clear guidelines and a hard deadline date. Don't be wishy-washy and constantly give extensions, it will quickly fall to the bottom of their priorities. Make the deadline dates realistic. That means don't pad their dates!! Don't say I'll move the deadline up an extra week cause I know they'll need it. We aren't stupid. We know when you do that!! And we'll take advantage of that. Especially the second and third time around.

If it's a soft date, it really means nothing to a true procrastinator. And really... shouldn't project managers be setting clear guidelines and hard dates to begin with??? Procrastinators hate nothing more then unclear dates. But at the same time they dread hard dates!! LOL But they can deal with those.

Anyway.. I've now avoided doing some things maybe I should have been doing. Thank you for helping me procrastinate!

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You are a procrastinator? I would have never guessed!

Sometimes I can be, too, but I'm glad it's just from time to time. I'm one of those "waits till the last possible moment to get stuff done" persons, but strangly mostly for my private life. ^^ You know, stuff like tax declaration. Every year it's the same: "This time I'll do it right away!"... yeah, sure...

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Steffi Warnecke
Jul 05 at 06:08 PM

Yeah.. I still need to get some stuff to my accountant so she can do my 2016 taxes..

:-(

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Deadline was May the 31st, so I'm done for this year. Wohooo!

Of course I was done on May the 31st. Even though the whole thing takes less than an hour to do for me.

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Instead of procrastination, it pays off to master delegation.

The only thing, that I had to do myself this year about taxes, was download to pdf account balances and movements. My accountant gets scanned copies of all invoices, tickets etc by e-mail. The rest was delegated to a family member.

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Thanks for sharing these "Confessions of a Procrastinator", Craig, highly appreciated insights.

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I also enjoyed reading The Confessions of a Procrastinator. :) And I agree with Steffi that OP seems to use the word "procrastination" for something completely different. As you correctly noted, procrastination is not a time management method, it's rather just something you're born with. And I'm a procrastinator too (good luck getting a result without giving me a deadline :) ), which I recognize and deal with. Exactly like an addiction.

#2 is usually just based on the past experience. Take my husband, for example, who seems to think he has a personal assistant. "Hey, where are my new socks?" 1... 2... 3... "Oh, here they are!". Every. Flippin'. Time. Good man but his brain is wired to open the mouth before using his eyes. If I was not "procrastinating" every time I hear him looking for something we'd probably be divorced already. But again, this is not "procrastination", it's just not stepping on the same rake twice.

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I think that's called "ignoring for the good of the marriage" (and your nerves). :D

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Jelena Perfiljeva
Jul 11 at 09:04 PM

That's also termed management. :-) Or Managing.

Or possibly manipulation. :-o

Craig

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@Craig: I dare to ask a personal question:

Do you think your known interest in fire fighting has to do with that, i.e. you feel related to a field where there is actual high pressure and sometimes real "dead lines"?

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Too an extent, yes. I find every call that we go to is different. Every auto accident involves different mechanisms of injuries, different vehicles all with their own hazards, (air bags, air curtains, electric vehicles, alternative fuels, cargo being carried, etc), different locations, different weather, always different personalities of people subjected to being under stress with different responses to it.

Every fire call is virtually unknown until you arrive and actually see what you are dealing with.

All first responders have to be able to function and make decisions quickly, often without all the info. So it is a stressful environment. I think it is why many first responders burn out after awhile. Fortunately training, SOP's and standing orders can greatly help. (That takes planning!!!)

So I think we all gravitate to areas we feel most comfortable in. Has being a procrastinator aided my ability to work in that field? Probably to some degree. But it would be wrong to assume all first responders are procrastinators as well.

I'm also somewhat of an adrenaline junkie too and I think almost all first responders are too and that might play a bigger role. :-) There is always a bit of an adrenaline rush on most calls. But like most drugs your body adjusts to it and learns to deal with it. Its why some of these people look calm when everything around them is in chaos. When they say it's in your blood, I totally believe that. I think a lot of that is an actual physical response to all these tiny, little surges of adrenaline on a daily basis. When you walk away from it or retire, I think you may actually have a withdrawal issue.

Lastly, really wanting to help people has to be a critical requirement. You don't do this unless you really want to help people. But just wanting to help doesn't cut it usually. Too much empathy will kill you. I've seen a lot of really great people quit, often because they cared so much, they got too hurt and depressed when bad things happened. I think you need a bit of a psychopath in you. Some call it being realistic. You can't help everyone and bad things happen to good people.

More than you probably asked for!! :-)

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And I don't even know that series! "Black books"... any similarities to "Blackadder"? ^^

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Ha!

I love both series...but if you're looking for a connection to another Britcom, you'll find it with IT Crowd. :)

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That one I got at home! Being or having been one of those sys admins myself for so many years. ^^

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