What is Productive Procrastination and How Can You Overcome It?

Midterm season has just passed, and as much as it is a way for professors to test your knowledge on the course material, it is also a breakpoint for students to stop and reflect on their own time management and task management skills. Is your current studying strategy working? Or do you need to tweak the way you approach your coursework? One thing many students regret is not starting their work earlier, but does procrastination always mean less productivity? 

One big-time stealer that we ignore is productive procrastination. Productive procrastination is centered on the idea that doing work doesn’t always mean you are working towards your goals. Some examples of productive procrastination are starting the assignment due next week because you don’t want to study for the test tomorrow or volunteering to clean the house to avoid doing your assignments. While it’s not to say your entire life should prioritize schoolwork, it can become problematic when you go out of your way to do other tasks to avoid the ones that really matter to you.  Assorted Books on Brown Surface Anthony/Pexels

To overcome productive procrastination, the most helpful thing you can do is to assign a ranking of priority to the tasks on your to-do list. This stems from the idea that there will always be more things to do than we will ever have the energy or time for. There are many ways to assign priority to your to-do list, but a very effective one is to consider the task’s urgency and importance. 

Defining the urgency of a task is something we all have experience with—it’s just a fancy way of saying deadline management! One of the major purposes of a to-do list is to make sure you meet your deadlines, and a great way to make sure you are doing this is to tackle items in order of when they are due. This can also help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed since you’ll know which tasks you need to complete first.  coffee in a blue pattern mug next to an analog alarm clock Aphiwat chuangchoem/Pexels

The idea is to understand what you want most out of life and focus the majority of your energy and time on working towards those interests. This way, you are able to assign priority to your tasks and streamline your to-do list to reflect how important these tasks actually are. This also prevents you from falling into the rut of mindlessly checking off items, potentially causing you to miss the deadlines you actually care about. 

Another factor to consider is the importance of your tasks. Not all tasks are created equal, and some are more vital to complete than others. Many times, the choice can be obvious. Practicing your speech is definitely more important than adding cool gifs to your PowerPoint presentation, and it’s crucial to learn how to distinguish between different levels of importance when you have a long to-do list. Considering the importance of your action items can help you allocate your time more effectively and ensure that your resources are being spent on things that actually matter to you. 

College life can get busy, and the best way to manage your tasks is to consider both urgency and importance. Although midterm season may have passed, there is still a large chunk of the semester left, and this is the perfect time to revamp your task management system. Prioritizing your responsibilities is not only a solution to productive procrastination but also a great strategy for all busy students to use. Good luck and happy studying!

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