The month of March is home to National Procrastination Week which encourages us to put off doing necessary tasks and instead enjoy doing other activities that we might not always have time for.
Although procrastination can sometimes be a gateway drug into inefficiency and laziness, used in moderation––and in the right circumstances––it can actually pose some benefits.
1. Reduced stress – Beware. This benefit of procrastination can be a double-edged sword if not used with discretion. While putting off tasks for a later time can help you feel like you have less to accomplish in a day, what you put off can come back to haunt you as a deadline approaches.
Nevertheless, the feeling of putting off a task you initially planned to accomplish but realize you could probably squeeze in tomorrow, and realizing you now have just enough time to take a nap or watch your favorite show is one of the highs of procrastination that keeps you coming back for more.
2. Increased creativity – According to some psychologists, people who put off completing tasks are often able to come up with more original and creative ideas than people who start on their work right away. This link between creativity and procrastination likely exists because, although we physically put off a task, our preoccupation with the task is still active in our minds. In other words, the pending task “runs in the backgrounds” of our brains.
I have always been one to allow my ideas to marinate in my mind before putting them down on paper. Whether writing an essay, an article or conducting a research project, I always find my ideas to be just a little more flavorful when they slow-cook.
3. Increased focus – Although procrastination is seen to “waste time,” some people work better under pressure. While saving a task until the ultimate last minute is definitely not ideal for your mental health, saving a task until an approaching deadline can make you more focused on completing it and you may even take it more seriously.
I find that I work better under pressure to a certain extent. If I know I have a lot of time to complete a project, I will have virtually no motivation to even worry about it until the deadline starts to become visible over the horizon. It’s those last few self-esteem-breaking, intelligence-questioning, adrenaline-fueled days right before a project is due that I often find I produce some of my greatest work.
You may call it poor time management, but I call it carefully planned and forced mental stimulation.
Well, here are three ways procrastination can help you. Remember to procrastinate responsibly this National Procrastination Week and enjoy the little extra time putting things off can get you.