Tag Archives: procrastination

5 Reasons Why Procrastination Done Right is Good For You

What is procrastination done right? Procrastination done wrong is when you spend the time you should have spent working on that report feeling guilty for not working on that report. Procrastination done right is when you spend the time you should have spent working on that report relaxing and playing piano.  In other words, when you’ve got yourself some quality time.

1. It forces you to be creative

You’ve pushed the time you were going to start designing that brochure to the last possible minute. Now what? Now you’ve got to use all of your resources and even invent new ones out of the blue, pushing the borders of your creativity to new territory. You’ve got to really give your best, or you’re fucked.

Waiting until the last night to study for tests for all my high school years has forced me to come up with a whole new set of memory, reading and comprehension skills I could have never dreamt of. Some of them include the “10 minute intensive background research to get interested in the topic and learn the stuff fast” or the “30 second mind map in every class before the test hour”. I never go below a B and I remember what I learn for years (one thing that can’t be said of most students who memorize 2 hours a day), because the only way to learn something fast is to understand it.

Procrastination usually provides high-quality results.

2. It helps you build self-confidence

Do you know how good I feel when I get an A on a test? I feel like I’m the king of the world. All these people who obtained the same grade I did spent a lot time studying -probably just memorizing- and only improved in the five better-known study methods, which have little use outside school. Me? I’ve learnt to learn a little faster than yesterday. I feel great. I feel like I can do anything. When you do a month’s project in two hours and the result is brilliant, you feel like you’ve achieved the impossible.

3. It makes you happy and relaxed (95% of the time)

Imagine you have 5 hours to do a task. But you don’t feel like doing it. If you got to it and tried to finish it really fast, you couldn’t, because your only motivation to do so is that you are bored with it. You’ll probably spend 4-5 hours doing the task, with many, many ultra-short breaks to check your email, wash your hands for the 5th time and so on (in other words, procrastination done wrong).

Those four of five hours wouldn’t be much enjoyed. You probably would start stressing because you don’t feel like you’re advancing with the task.

But if you instead took four of those five hours and used them to do something you really want to do, such as playing your favourite musical instrument or reading a book, you would have got yourself some quality time to enjoy life and improve your skills. Now, back to the task. A 5 hour job in under 1? Now it’s a challenge! You’ll probably be stressed while you do it, but I think it’s worth to trade 5 hours of boredom for 1 hour of stress.

4. It teaches you to remain calmed and avoid stress

Many times, procrastinators stress about the tasks they have to do in such a short time, but realizing that they can accomplish things in a shorter time than others and do it well helps them remain calmed in most of other situations where people who don’t believe in the power of procrastination would break down screaming “two days! he wants us to do that in two days!”.

Also, there comes a moment in the life of every serial procrastinator when they realize that not stressing enough lead them to that situation, and stressing too much would only make them lose even more time, so they achieve the perfect stress balance: the state in which you get things done.

5. It saves you time

Indeed, the methods and techniques to finish stuff fast you learn while you procrastinate provide highly useful later in other tasks. For example, when I study something I’m interested about I am a much faster learner than I would be if I had not developed all those fast-learning tips and tricks.

Procrastination teaches you how to get things done fast, and well.

But remember! All these things only work if you are committed to deliver a high-quality product: if you don’t accept anything less than your best.

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Skip the Unimportant

Yesterday it was almost four in the morning and I was arguing with my brain. I had experienced a lack of ideas in the last couple weeks but at that time my brain seemed to be on fire. I had gone to bed at twelve o’clock and since then thousands of ideas would had crossed my mind: blog posts, future planning, problem solutions, stories… all sorts of stuff.

But I wanted to sleep so badly I was yelling “shut up!” at my brain. It doesn’t usually obey me, and it didn’t that time either, so the only thing I could do was to pick up my iPhone and write everything down. I skipped summer English school today, but I think it was worth it. I learnt more English by reading Great Expectations this morning anyway.

I forgive myself at trying to shut up my brain in such an occasion because I was really sleepy. But we try to shut up our brains many times a day for the sake of routine. For example, some of my friends have high school as their top priority and will do every assignment, every day, without rationally thinking if said assignment will help them learn anything or if it’s the best way to use their time. It is a common belief that as school -or work- is important, everything related to school is important.

Sometimes there are things that are just not worth our time. In my case, the greatest example of this is English homework. The level of my high school English class is so below mine that I will not waste a single second of my life doing any homework unless it’s something where I can be creative and actually want to do for fun. And I will gladly accept a 9 over 10 in that class (although most teachers overlook the fact that I do not do homework and give me a 10 anyway) because I know my time was better spent painting or playing basket or whatever.

When I want to do something, like painting, when I should do something else, like homework, I ask myself how each activity will affect my future. I believe that painting when I’m inspired to paint will affect me much better than doing homework when I feel I should be painting. In other words, I procrastinate or skip “important” tasks altogether, and I do it without the slightest regret.

I even skip school sometimes, when I am deep involved in a project, such as building a robot or programming a game. I want all my time for that, and I know it’s worth it. I can always catch up on school later. Some people frighten when they do something like this, thinking they won’t be able to catch up, but I don’t. I know it will all be OK because I can handle it.

Sounds great, uh? To do what you want to do all the time, without causing any damage to your life. Here’s how you can do it too:

Detecting the Unimportant

Many TV shows have what we call “filler episodes”. They don’t advance the plot, they don’t develop the characters and they are boring to watch.

The “filler time” in your life is that you spend doing things that don’t give you any valuable skill, don’t help you grow and you don’t enjoy.

Analyse a typical day of yours (if you don’t have such a thing as a typical day, congratulations: you’re awesome) and try to find that filler time. In a typical school day of mine, a filler hour is English class because I don’t learn anything, I don’t grow and I don’t have fun there.

Then, do the same every night with the day that just finished and be aware of activities you repeat that have zero value to the “plot”.

Also, when you are about to do any activity longer than 15 minutes, allow a few seconds to decide if it’s filler time.

Deleting the Unimportant

Once you have identified your first filler, try to create some way you can transform this filler time into something more useful. If you are not obliged to do that, I suggest you drop that activity (or lack of activity) altogether. If you can’t do that, try to find a way to make it profitable and enjoyable. If you could delete even half an hour of filler time from your routine, that’s a major improvement. Common activities that can easily become filler time if you’re not careful are browsing the internet and watching TV.

Avoiding the Unimportant

Planning your day in advance is a great way to avoid this. Of course, you can do things that are not in the plan (having a day fully planned is the dullest of things, but having a plan ensures that when you don’t know what you do, your time won’t go to waste).

Another “trick” is to have a wide repertoire of activities you can get on fast. For example, I’ve trained myself to identify filler time very fast so I can stop myself from wasting my time mindlessly reading jokes on the internet that I will probably not remember the next day, but then I need to do something instead. My repertoire includes reading a book, writing a blog post, writing a speech on a random topic and so on.

Dealing With the Consequences

This is what seems to be the hardest part, but it really isn’t. While detecting the unimportant, you probably were smart enough not to classify things such as “buying food” and “going to the only meeting I have with my boss this year” as unimportant, so you can’t really get into much trouble. Each situation is different so it’s up to you how you handle it, but most of them can be solved by forgetting about them. After all, they’re not that important 😉

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