Productivity and success are tightly tied to each others. However, we find ourselves gravitating not towards a high-functioning tendency, but more towards procrastination and laziness. Because it just seems to be the easier thing to do. Many people delay starting on work because they are not “in the zone.” Waiting for inspiration is just another way to procrastinate, and it is a sure-fire way of running out of time to do a great job.
Although procrastination is considered a bad word, there are times when procrastinating can make you more productive. Here is why:
- You get more ideas. Creativity is the process of generating new ideas out of combinations of old ideas. The probability of creating combinations of old ideas grows as you gather more of those. When you procrastinate–you have more time to collect ideas.
- Ideas incubate. In the creative process, once old ideas occupy your head, they need time to incubate. Procrastination gives you that time. The probability of two old ideas meeting increases the longer they incubate in your head.
- Better alternatives come up. Before making decisions, you need to consider the alternatives. The more alternatives you have, the higher the probability of a better decision is. You may stumble upon an alternative simply because you didn’t rush to take an earlier alternative.
- You have time to discuss your ideas with more people and get their feedback, that will result in better ideas and decisions. You won’t benefit from their feedback if you pull the trigger on your decisions too early.
However, procrastination is not always good. There are times when it can hurt. There is a popular but very misleading line that reads, “The Deadline is the Best Inspiration”. Some people do believe they work better when they are under pressure, but what really happens is that they work faster. While they get a sense of euphoria when they “beat the deadline,” it also usually means they cut corners and turn in work that is less than stellar.
‘Productivity’ and organized work schedules don’t have to be the same for everybody. The type of organization you need depends on what works for you. If your creative juices happen to work late at night, simply shift your schedule a day earlier than the others, so that you connect in a mutually beneficial place and time.
These are some simple tips that you can do next time you find yourself procrastinating:
- Instead of browsing YouTube, watch your favorite really funny video. Laughter really is great medicine. A belly laugh certainly relaxes you, and may also increase productivity. Planning to watch that single funny video means you can quickly return to the task at hand.
- Instead of perusing your social networks, call a friend. You’ll get the same calming benefits of fostering a connection, and a break from the screen at the same time. Changing your environment helps you to truly leave your work behind. The cleaner the break, the more likely you are to return to your task reinvigorated.
- Instead of watching TV, take a nap. If you’re looking to really zone out, you might be tempted to settle down in front of the television. But before you know it, a few minutes turn into an hour-long episode, and then one episode becomes two. Get the same mental check-out with a quick nap. As long as you don’t snooze for more than 30 minutes, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the job.
- Instead of eating at your desk, take a real lunch. Face it — you’re not very productive when you’re typing with one hand and you’ve got a sandwich in the other. In fact, eating at your desk has been found to drain you of energy and decrease productivity, according to U.S. News. Instead of pretending to power through that project, take a few minutes to recharge midday away from your desk.
- Instead of having a snack, take a walk. Eating to avoid finishing a to-do item is different from eating because you’re hungry. Getting a little exercise instead can distract you from mindless snacking and help you refocus on getting stuff done. If you have the time and flexibility, plan your full workout for the middle of the day. Studies suggest that exercise during the work day increases productivity.
- Instead of daydreaming, run an errand. While it can be relaxing to picture your upcoming tropical vacation, daydreaming doesn’t have that finite ending that you’re looking for in an ideal break. The change of scenery will help you clear your mind to come back with renewed intensity.
* So which is it? Procrastinate or not? Here is the wisdom you need to tell the difference:
Are you a person that gets stressed if you are too close to the deadline? If you are–don’t procrastinate. It could have negative physiological effects on you, and the quality of your work. Do it early so you can sleep better and keep your sanity. Don’t have issues with stress? Enjoy the benefits of procrastination.