Intention vs Procrastination
Procrastination is not something you do intentionally. It just kinda happens. You forget about a task or assignment and suddenly realize that it needs to be completed and is due tomorrow. Or you don’t have the motivation to do the task ahead of time because it can wait until the last minute. Whatever the reason, procrastinating is rarely part of the plan. But what if we shouldn’t feel guilty when we procrastinate? What if, in fact, we should be procrastinating more?
The adrenaline junkie
Despite what you sometimes hear, procrastination is not a terrible strategy. There are advantages to waiting until the last minute which are often overlooked by teachers and managers.
Procrastination will raise your urgency levels when working to complete a task. Urgency is incredibly valuable. You will be more likely to complete the task in less time and your heart will be racing. Your stress will increase. Your adrenaline will kick in. And your brain will be all about finishing the task at hand as quickly as possible.
Quickly over Quality
The one and only downside of procrastinating is that the quality of your work may suffer some. If you do tasks at the last minute, you will likely get them done very quickly, but that will not allow you to spend time focusing on the details. As a result, sometimes there are sloppy mistakes when procrastinating. And if you do not have time to edit or review what you have done, there is no way to catch these mistakes before it is too late.
However the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. You get somewhere faster when you sprint than when you walk. Procrastination is a task-sprint. Because you’ll be finishing the task in less time, you will be able to fill that unused time with other tasks. These tasks don’t even have to be important. The unused time before you start a task could be used for things like checking social media, replying to emails that could wait, even things like refilling the paper tray on the printer that is only half empty. Anything to keep from working on the task.
The procrastination cycle
The best part is that procrastination is a cycle. When you put things off to the last minute and then have to dedicate all your time to them, you fall behind on other tasks. Then when you finally finish the task at hand, you are already stressed out about working on the next. This cycle ensures a regular high stress level and constant reliance on procrastination to get quick results.
So how do we achieve optimal procrastination? Following these guidelines can help anyone trying to improve their workflow with procrastination.
- Never plan ahead: If you look ahead you can plot out a schedule of when tasks should be accomplished and allocate time to editing and reviewing, leading to reduced urgency and stress.
- Diligence is your enemy: Diligence leads to working on tasks sooner rather than later and evenly distributing the time it takes to complete a task. This prevents the super-effective sprint to complete something close to the deadline.
- Avoid accountability: Accountability is the bane of procrastination. Having someone to keep you accountable about your progress makes it almost impossible to put things off until the last minute.
By keeping to these guidelines and putting things off you can maximize the urgency and stress right before a task is due. Procrastination is a sprint. Compared to a leisurely walk, it is intense, exhausting, and can lead to burnout, but you can get to the finish line so much faster.