There is a lot of advice on the internet that suggests procrastination is bad. This advice used to make me really angry when I procrastinated. If I wasted an hour watching Youtube videos, I’d be pissed. That was until I reflected and realized that procrastination is to thank for my creative work. Without procrastination, I’d be nowhere.
Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?
On the outside, delaying or postponing your work seems like a huge waste of time. It seems as though you are wasting your life.
From my own experience, procrastination is good and helps you do your work. University of San Diego professor Frank Partnoy who is an expert in the subject and wrote a book on it agrees and says:
“People are more successful and happier when they manage delay. Procrastination is just a universal state of being for humans.
We will always have more things to do than we can possibly do, so we will always be imposing some sort of unwarranted delay on some tasks.
The question is not whether we are procrastinating, it is whether we are procrastinating well.”
Typically, I waste 2 hours before doing meaningful work
Whenever I sit down to do deep work such as writing, I waste two hours beforehand.
That two hours is made up of a short burst of exercise, and lots of meaningless, stupid, numb, pointless Youtube videos. Do you know why these two hours are so critical? It helps me block out all the noise.
The more pointless and useless your periods of procrastination are the more you can let go of your work.
Doing creative and deep work requires you to let go and loosen up. If I was to delete the two hours of procrastination, I’d be trying to do deep work while having the thoughts of my week occupy a huge amount of space in my mind.
Procrastination is letting go
When you are able to let go, the work that follows is highly productive.
Once I have utilized procrastination, my cup is empty, my thoughts are empty and I am able to write or communicate really challenging ideas.
Ideas such as: dealing with death, a radical change in life, mental illness, love, and the meaning of life. If I attempted to dive straight into these topics, I’d fail.
Delaying and postponing your work helps
In some ways, when you delay your work, you build up a combination of frustration and a deliciously nice craving.
Procrastination can stop you from working and then when you are frustrated, you disconnect from the outcome and do the work. I know that might sound counter-intuitive, but it really does work.
My obsession with helping people through writing is an addiction and when I delay that addiction, the work comes easier to me.
Procrastination is not dangerous
No one has died from procrastinating, yet. Don’t be scared into thinking that if you procrastinate, your life is over. Understand why you procrastinate and contemplate the idea that maybe it can help you, not hinder you.
Procrastination is like a warm-up for an athlete about to run the race of their life. Procrastination is an escape that can take you in and out of your own little world that exists in your head.
Yes, procrastination is a distraction and sometimes that is exactly what you need when you are hung up on some meaningless idea such as you are suffering writer’s block.
You are doing the best you can. Sometimes you feel like it and sometimes you don’t. Today I don’t feel like doing anything, but I am pushing myself to do so because oddly, that often produces the best work.
Don’t be scared by procrastination; use it for good.
Ideas can be hidden in procrastination
Many of my best creative ideas came from procrastination. Watching Youtube videos, reading loads of blog articles instead of writing, and having random conversations on Facebook, leads to ideas.
Ideas are everywhere if you will take the time to look for them. The ideas you will get when you procrastinate are different from the ones you might get from other areas in your life. In normal conversations and Youtube videos, I find a perspective on life that I don’t always have or share myself.
Procrastination gives you time to delay doing the work so you can explore ideas for a bit. If you find your work is becoming repetitive or underwhelming, perhaps you need a little procrastination in your life.
Perhaps being highly productive and producing generic work is your problem after all.
You are human
That’s what is forgotten when we talk about procrastination.
Some days you feel like crap.
Some days you are distracted.
Some days you are lazy.
Some days you don’t know how you can live the way you are.
Not every day can be flawless and we can’t always be immaculate little hermit crabs that do amazing work and never waste a single minute in our perfectly square and productive days. Life gets in the way; we waste time; we battle with the human experience — and we will struggle, that is guaranteed.
So don’t be put off by procrastination. It is normal even for bloggers like me who seem to be winning (most of the time I am not).