Procrastination as the ultimate productivity hack.

by Tobias van Schneider
first appeared
on my private email list.

Me writing one of my articles in Iceland. Shot by Stefan Leitner

I love the irony of writing this article while I procrastinated for hours until I finally sat down to write this to you.

I’ve been thinking about procrastination a lot lately. I do it all the time, even though people always ask me how I get so much stuff done.

I thought about it, because it is true. I do get a lot of stuff done, but then at the same time I also procrastinate A LOT. How does this make any sense?

First, I like you to watch this TED talk by Tim Urban, one of my favorite bloggers on the Internetz. He is running a blog called WaitButWhy and just recently gave a talk about procrastination on TED.

I’ve been a master procrastinator since I’m a kid. I have little patience and my attention span matches with the one of a squirrel.

I rarely go to conferences because I essentially fall asleep if someone talks longer than 20minutes. Unless the talk involves explosions mixed with a car chase or me laughing my ass off for the entire time.

Instant gratification & immediate feedback has always been a big part in everything I do. It’s just simply how most of us humans work, especially us, the procrastinators. We need results, quickly.

Now you might think where the hell is Tobias going with this? All these things above sound horrible.

For years I’ve tried to cure my tendency to procrastinate.

But then I learned that it’s such a big part of me and my character, I simply can’t remove it. Fighting against it made it only worse. It’s like one of these bullsh*t articles on Medium about why a morning person is a better human being.

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do — the day after.” ― OSCAR WILDE

You either are a morning person, or you are not. You eventually become one when getting older, or you’re born as one. I feel the same about procrastination.

You either have it, or you don’t. But if you have it, embrace it and make it your greatest strength.

I found that procrastination is the Nr.1 driver behind my productivity. And knowing that, I can tweak it even further.

It simply works like this:

I usually work on about 5–10 different projects at the same time. This naturally adds a lot of pressure on me, which is good.

But what happens is that I procrastinate on a project by working on a different one. Which means: I’m not doing the work I should be doing right now, but I’m doing the work I should be doing otherwise.

It’s like procrastinating by doing your emails, even though you should be working on a project. In this case, procrastinating becomes a way of working on the second or third most important task. Or maybe even equally important.

Of course this sounds easier than done. You are still on the edge of missing important deadlines, and you might be procrastinating on one project longer than another.

But essentially what happens is that you checked off five other things on your To-Do list while you were procrastinating.

And of course, this only works if you make sure to work on a LOT of things at the same time. If you only have one important project you work on, you will probably end up procrastinating by watching TV. And that’s where procrastination probably got it’s bad image from.

Simply said: Procrastination is my ultimate productivity hack. I try to embrace it instead of getting rid of it.

Are you a procrastinator? How do you deal with it, are you trying to avoid it or embrace it as well? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter.

In the meantime, stay awesome and have a fantastic Monday!

Yours truly,
Tobias

PS: I usually send out these articles via my personal email list right here. You can sign up anytime, I won’t spam, promise.

Thanks for hitting the 💚 if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more of it!

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Tobias is a Designer & Maker + Co-Founder of Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers. Also host of the show NTMY — Previously Art Director & Design Lead at Spotify & Board of Directors AIGA New York.