When Procrastination Serves Well For Your Productivity

Learn how to use procrastination in the right context here so employees can become more focused, creative, productive, and experience less stress.

Published on 1 June, 2018

Here’s something you’ll probably agree on:

We all need to stay super-duper productive to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. We have no time to procrastinate; otherwise, we’ll trail far behind. Besides, what else but procrastination kills creativity and work efficiency, right?


Countless books and blogs teach you to beat this monster and start working. Procrastination has been proclaimed the arch-nemesis of productivity, with most HR professionals looking for strategies to minimize wasted time at work and implementing them into corporate training programs for employees. But what would work better is learning how to use procrastination in the right context so it could help people become more focused, creative, productive, and less stressed.

The Problem

Scientists claim there are two kinds of procrastination: active and passive. While the passive one means sitting and doing nothing (watching Netflix doesn’t count, sorry), the active one assumes you realize that you are procrastinating over a task and are doing something more valuable instead.

The problem is most people don’t see any difference in them, sticking the label of hopeless procrastinators on themselves every time they postpone tasks. A palmary example is students who put assignments on the shelf and fail to finish them in due time: as a result, professors spot plagiarism in writing and pin the blame for laziness on mentees.

But are those students lazy procrastinators indeed?

According to psychologists, there’s no such feeling or character trait as laziness. We can feel tired, apathetic, or aggressive, expressing those feelings in the unwillingness to do something. Also, we use the “lazy” word to describe people who don’t want to do anything we believe they should do. Even if speaking of ourselves.

In other words, there’s always a reason for your procrastination. When used right –remember the difference between active and passive procrastination? – it can work in favor of your productivity.

Become More Creative for Productive (Advanced) Ideas

Procrastination Think CreativeDo you know that the most creative ideas come after procrastination? And that is why:

  • First, procrastination gives you more time to collect ideas.
  • Second, it provides you with time for what Joseph Sugarman called “an incubation process:” the longer two ideas incubate in your head, the more chances are you’ll come up with the third, more advanced one.
  • Third, procrastination allows thinking of alternatives, with no rush of grabbing the first idea that comes to your head.
  • And fourth, it gives time to discuss the idea with colleagues to get their feedback and therefore find the best solution.

Many creatives agree on that.

Thus, Adam Grant, the author of “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” explained how procrastination made us more creative in his TED talk back in 2016. The inventor of AdBlock, Henrik Sorensen revealed this trick even earlier: in 2015, he told Business Insider about how he wrote the code while procrastinating on exam preparation. And the guys from Warby Parker weren’t in a hurry to launch their website, which turned into huge problems with investors but yet allowed them to come up with a more advanced business idea; now they are valued at over $1 billion.

Procrastination gives time for free thinking and creating new strategies. Also, it improves your memory for more productive work thanks to the effect of Zeigarnik: people remember incomplete tasks better as they establish tension in mind, influencing cognitive accessibility and making us look for solutions.

Use Procrastination to Win Time

As a person struggling to be productive, you have a long list of tasks for the day. The paradox is, most of them are not that necessary to complete right here and now: they are more of space fillers than effective time spending. Procrastinating over such to-do lists allows you to set priorities, avoid multitasking and other distractions, decide on tasks to postpone for later, and eat the frog for better overall productivity.

De-stress With Procrastination for More Efficient Work

More doesn’t equal better, and working with no breaks brings nothing but stress. Experts insist that a 90/20 cycle of working is the best for personal effectiveness, due to ultradian rhythms. So it seems that oldy-moldy Pomodoro technique (breaking down your work into intervals) will help to boost energy and work more productively after short sessions of procrastination.

So, What’s the Solution?

Don’t be afraid to interrupt your work for some breaks. Forget the word “lazy” and make friends with your active procrastination for better productivity: clear your schedule, delegate whenever appropriate, work in small sprints, forget multitasking (it will cost you 23 minutes every time you’ll switch between tasks and try to concentrate), and learn to enter the state of flow to involve into a work process and enjoy it to the fullest for maximum productivity.

About the author:
Lesley Vos is a seasoned web writer who helps peers develop the confidence and skills for better articles creation and promotion. Visit her blog to discover the world of plagiarism-free content, and don’t hesitate to follow Lesley on Twitter.

Mimeo Marketing Team

Mimeo is a global online print provider with a mission to give customers back their time. By combining front and back-end technology with a lean production model, Mimeo is the only company in the industry to guarantee your late-night print order will be produced, shipped, and delivered by 8 am the next morning. For more information, visit mimeo.com and see how Mimeo’s solutions can help you save time today.

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