Stop procrastinating, or you’ll go blind. Or was it that it would put hair on my palms? Anyway, I’ve heard it a thousand times, and I’m sure you’ve heard the same. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I was told to stop slacking off and get back to work, I’d have many, many dollars. But good news! Science went and thought about this most-common of time-wasting techniques, and the results are in. It turns out that active procrastination may not only be a good thing—but it could actually make you more productive.
That isn’t a typo. However, it didn’t require science to confirm this for we—the procrastinating elite. For those of us who have a handle on the time, we spend off-task—working on side-projects, creating new ideas, and developing relationships—we are quite often better for procrastinating. We spend our off-time doing the things we are usually most passionate about, not just the stuff we do to make a living. Procrastination may work for some of the geese, but it doesn’t mean that it’s great for the gander in all cases.
As in just about everything, no two people—or in this case, procrastinators—are alike. However, there are two simple buckets in which we can put them into for purposes of this conversation, understanding this topic isn’t so black and white. There are the active kind and the passive kind.
Active procrastinators are those who fill the time they should be using on something else, with something they genuinely enjoy. The passion projects, the side gigs, the startup companies, and so on. So while they may be guilty of putting off things that might be important to others—like employers, partners, friends, or family members—they are filling that time with productive things that make them happy.
Passive procrastinators, on the other hand, are the ones that put off important tasks, yet often engage in self-destructive behaviors. They are playing X-box, Netflix and chilling, or worse, doing nothing at all. They have all the negatives that come along with a procrastinator’s lifestyle with none of the upside. While the active’s aren’t entirely free of the dangers that can be associated with excessive procrastination, the passive’s are much more susceptible.
No matter the line of work, the mishandling of the p-word can be problematic. Especially in fields that thrive on creativity—or creative people anyway—as well as those who rely on detached resources working remotely, procrastination and its negative effects can get out of hand quickly. According to doctors Eugene YJ Tee and Choy Tsee Leng in their article 5 Dangers Of Procrastination And How You Can Beat It the following are five of many dangers threatening a poorly-managed procrastinator with commentary by yours truly:
But enough about that. I started this article with bells on, about to espouse the positive aspects of active procrastination, so let’s get back to that, shall we?
According to the super-smart folks over at Psychology Today—despite popular views to the contrary—procrastination is not just great for improving your happiness, but also your productivity. Whaaa?!
That’s right, and its great news for ” active” procrastinators! In an article called 6 Reasons Why Procrastination Can Be Good For You by Susanna Newsonen, the author lays out the following points supported by my two-bits:
Ahh, what a relief! Now maybe I can shake the crushing despair I feel when I’m judged for putting things off every so often. After all, it’s just part of my process! It’s clear that much like anything in moderation, the procrastination you are likely chastised for might be doing more good than harm. Good luck getting your boss to buy in though!
Are you reading this article while you put off something else in hopes of finding inspiration? I hope so. More importantly, I hope it was worth it. If you’re looking to kill another minute or two, please get involved in the conversation. I’d love to hear about how you deal with procrastination in your career.
Join me here in the comments or feel free to find me on the socials to take this conversation wherever the audience most suited to hear it can get involved - I am @ryanroghaar on Medium, Twitter, and Instagram.