My house is never cleaner than when I have something really important to do. I am like a Tasmanian devil of de-cluttering and cleaning. I have a standing excuse that I need an uncluttered environment to think, but deep down I feel more benefits to procrastination than a clean work space. Here are a few:
- You get to put off unpleasant tasks in favor of more enjoyable things
- Problems may end up getting solved without any effort from you
- You can delay challenging decisions to gather more information
- Open space and time enhance creativity
These benefits help to ease my guilt about being a procrastinator, but what if we could erase the guilt completely by using procrastination as a strategy to actually get things done? Enter the theory of positive procrastination. “The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.” (Dr. John Perry, The Art of Procrastination) Positive Procrastination theory suggests that you choose which tasks to work on while you are avoiding other more challenging or unpleasant activities.
Here’s how it works:
- Create a list of activities that you are procrastinating
- Assign “next steps” for each activity and track your progress
- Order the activities for priority and deadlines
- Choose which activities you are going to consciously procrastinate further and which you will work on now (start with the easy stuff)
- Make sure to throw in some fun items to get your juices flowing
- Establish healthy work routines with breaks for fresh air built-in
- Use the energy surge before a deadline to finish particularly challenging activities
- Revisit your list weekly
I really found that my productivity increased when I could bounce around between a few seemingly unrelated activities. It allowed me to increase my self-control, increase creativity, decrease impulsivity and get a lot more done. Since I began this process in December 2012, I have set up my bookkeeping online, drafted my marketing strategy for 2013, hand-made an advent calendar for my daughter (something that I had procrastinated for about five years!) and completed this article.