These articles will tell you that there is only one reliable way for you to get stuff done:
- Check your todo-list for the next item
- Complete item no matter what it is
- Go to step 1
The message here is that if only you had enough willpower, backbone, self-control and discipline this is how you would work too.
Well guess what: Many people don’t work that way. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a task and doing it is ridiculously easy and a lot of fun. Sometimes doing the very same task feels worse than walking barefoot over burning-hot, acid-covered, broken glass and forcing yourself to do it anyway is a frustrating exercise in futility.
Sometimes procrastinating is exactly the right thing to do at a particular moment. Sadly, this is largely ignored by the procrastination-is-a-sign-of-weakness, the-devil-finds-work-for-idle-hands crowd.
An example: Sometimes I have a great idea for an article, but I can’t get it written. I try writing it one way, I try another but I just can’t get it finished. Invariably, I end up procrastinating. Suddenly while I’m procrastinating, the idea I was missing comes to me and the whole article is suddenly clear in my mind. When I next sit down to write it, it takes no time and writing it is a pure pleasure.
I could’ve forced myself to write that article the first time around – if I’d had enough discipline! But it would have been a struggle all the way and the result wouldn’t have been half as good. I can just hear people crying “Well, your articles still aren’t half as good” :) That’s another discussion!
For me, procrastination is just another tool I use. A way to recharge and get ideas. The important thing is to procrastinate effectively.
Here’s how you do it.
1: Procrastinate without guilt
Do not beat yourself up for procrastinating. Everybody does it once in a while. It doesn’t make you a lazy bastard or a bad person.
If you leave a task for later, but spend all your time obsessing about the task you’re not doing, it does nothing good for you. So procrastinate without guilt.
2: Procrastinate 100%
Do you know those people who procrastinate from some important task – and all they can talk or think about is the task they’re not doing. Often to the point of obsession!
Don’t. Throw yourself 100% into whatever it is you are doing, whether you’re vacuuming, watching TV, reading, surfing the web or out drinking with your friends. Do it and enjoy it to the max.
3: Choose to procrastinate
Don’t let procrastination sneak up on you, so that you suddenly find that you’re doing something other than you should be. Instead, choose consciously to not work on your current task. Instead of fighting it, say to yourself “I will now procrastinate”.
This way procrastination isn’t something that happens to you, something that you’re powerless to control. As if it ever could be :) This way you’re in charge and procrastination is a tool you use.
4: Ask yourself why you procrastinate
There can be many good reasons to procrastinate:
- Some crucial ideas, notions, thoughts may come to you only when you’re not working on your project.
- Effective procrastination recharges your batteries and gives you new energy.
- Maybe there’s something else you could be doing instead and procrastinating means you get it done.
- Maybe whatever it is you’re supposed to do, turns out to be irrelevant or even a bad idea. Maybe the reason you procrastinated was, that your subconscious knew this before your conscious mind.
Or maybe – and most importantly – you just hate doing whatever it is you’re supposed to do and that’s why you can’t make yourself do it. Many people hate their jobs (20% according to some studies) and constant procrastination can be a sign that you’re one of them. In that case, take it seriously, and do something about it.
Working non-stop means missing out on all of this. When you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself why. Don’t just accept the traditional answer: “There’s something wrong with me, I’m a bad, lazy person”.
5: Take responsibility for procrastinating
When you choose to procrastinate, make sure to update your deadlines and commitments. Let people know, that your project will not be finished on time and give them a new deadline.
Procrastinate now. I dare you!
Procrastination is not bad in itself. Do it right, and it’s a way to be more efficient and have more fun with what you’re working on.
In fact, I challenge you to procrastinate this very moment. Pick a task that you should be working on right now, but where your heart isn’t really in it. Then, rather than work half-heartedly on this task, procrastinate fully and consciously as described above.
Notice how it changes how you think about your task and what it does for you when you procrastinate 100% and without feelings of guilt.
Then write a comment and tell me how it went.