I don’t know about you but I sometimes find myself procrastinating when there’s something that I’ve needed to do for a while or when there’s an impending deadline. I’m usually really good at getting the important things done but there are times when I ‘m just not sure where to start or I just don’t want to.
When that happens I’ll often find something else to do or just do nothing. There’s usually a whole lot of emotion that goes with procrastinating for me but I’ve discovered that procrastinating can be a good thing.
You may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks and this has partly been down to the fact that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write but it’s also down to me choosing to actively procrastinate on writing it. The idea for this blog came to me after asking around about what other women find challenging running a business and looking after their family and or home. The idea of doing housework as a way to escape other tasks came up. I found this really interesting. Who would choose to do housework instead of something else. Hhmm, I know that I’m guilty of procrastinating but housework would be the last thing I would do to get out of doing something else.
That made me think about avoiding a task with another more useful activity and about whether procrastination can be a good thing as it’s usually seen as negative. I tried searching for quotes that frame procrastination in a good light and I couldn’t find any. I decided to test this for myself by procrastinating on this blog and a few other things. This is what I discovered;
Good things can happen and answers can come from the least expected places. I’ve been reading a great book called Originals by Adam Grant that’s all about how non conformists have changed the world. Guess what? As I read the book over the weekend there was a whole chapter about procrastination. It turns out that there’s scientific evidence that procrastinating is good. Although we’ve been conditioned to get things done immediately, being efficient stifles creativity. Yep, procrastination according to Grant, ‘may be an enemy of productivity but it can be a resource for creativity.’ Did you know that DaVinci procrastinated for years before completing the Mona Lisa? Yep, years. That made me feel so much better when I read that, although I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to leave something for years but it’s a fantastic argument for not rushing to get things started or finished. So the first result of my procrastination test was positive. By procrastinating on writing my blog last week, I came up with great information that ultimately inspired me to write it.
You might be wondering what else came from me procrastinating? Well according to Grant, creativity is a result of procrastination. There were times I was more creative from putting something off. I’d been mulling over a piece of work for a client and how best to approach it for a few days. Initially, I knew exactly how I’d approach it or so I thought, but I decided to leave it for a day or two. I mulled it over and actually ideas came to me at different times whilst I was doing other things. I came up with a great idea whilst cooking dinner and then again just before bed. After a couple of days the ideas that I’d come up with were definitely much better than the initial idea I had.
Following my experiment, I would actually disagree with Grant that procrastination is an enemy of productivity. I found myself doing everything else other than what I needed to do, which included doing housework I’d been putting off. Yes! My house was cleaner and tidier earlier in the week than it would have been had I been writing this blog or working. By putting these things off, it also helped me to stick to my resolution of cooking something new every week. I made time through procrastinating to find a new recipe, which I made and tasted great. Hmm, a life of procrastination wasn’t so bad after all.
So this little exercise/experiment showed me many advantages of procrastinating, but above all it showed me that by choosing not to decide straight away in so many areas that I made even better decisions than I would have normally. Procrastinating definitely helped me to be a better decision make.
I have to admit when I first decided to procrastinate about writing the blog, I felt guilty. I’d made a promise to someone the day before that it would be written the next day. How could I go back on my word? It’s important to me to keep my word whenever I can but I decided not to let guilt or duty be a priority this time. For a change, I’d go with the flow and take some pressure off myself by not forcing myself to deliver. That was also a challenge for me, not knuckling down and starting on work that had been promised. After all I’m paid to deliver and I always deliver on time and where possible earlier. But hey, that’s just another weight I’ve imposed on myself and placed squarely on my own shoulders.
We all know the disadvantages of procrastinating and are constantly reminded of them, but there are also so many benefits that are often ignored that I’ve learned for myself. The procrastination I experimented wasn’t just putting off one task to do nothing but most importantly was procrastination by doing other things that we often think aren’t as important but turn out to be equally important. It’s official, procrastination can be good for you!