the power of procrastination (archived post)

by benjamin hollon on january 11, 2020

Please note: I no longer agree with everything I wrote here. There's still some truth, but take it with a grain of salt.

Everyone tells me that procrastination is bad for you, but I've never really felt the adverse effects of it. It isn't that I don't procrastinate; I do. I procrastinate about everything, even the things I do for fun.

For some reason, though, procrastination doesn't have the negative effects on me that everyone says it should. I never miss deadlines. No one realizes I'm lazy. I don't end up with much time wasted (or at least not more than people who play video games). I meet almost all of the goals I set for myself.

This contradiction between the expected and the reality got me thinking. Why am I immune to procrastination's harmful effects?

I have to admit it: I was puzzled for a long time before I saw an article on the Grammarly blog that introduced the idea of Productive Procrastination to me.

According to this article, there are two forms of procrastination. Negative Procrastination, the type most people think of, is procrastination to the point of missing your deadlines and never getting anything done.

But the article also introduces the idea of Productive Procrastination, a type of procrastination that is good for you and helps you get your work done rather than obstructing productivity.

The idea is that you can procrastinate by doing more manageable tasks as an excuse to put off the more laborious task that you don't want to do. If you're still able to get the more difficult task done in time for the deadline, you haven't only gotten one hard job done but have completed a host of simpler tasks in the process. Your productivity, rather than decreasing, has skyrocketed!

This article first introduced me to the idea that procrastination can have positive effects instead of negative ones. However, its description of Productive Procrastination still didn't sound like something I did. I knew that I wasn't completing more tasks in an effort to put off harder ones. I like having free time as much as the next man.

That's when I realized the answer: the reason I'm not able to be unproductive in my free time is that all of my hobbies are productive.

Think about it. Most people, when procrastinating, will start playing video games, watching Youtube videos, chatting with friends on social media, or just randomly browsing the internet. By nature, I don't enjoy any of those tasks. I am not a video gamer, and I only use Youtube to listen to music (which I do while working on other things). And, while I do browse the internet, because all of my hobbies are productive, the things I look at usually assist me in productivity.

The only activities I pursue in my free time are productive. Reading, which takes up the majority of my free time, is unarguably productive. Whether I'm reading, playing my trombone, learning to code, writing, or composing music, I'm productive. The reason I'm not able to procrastinate negatively is that none of the activities I enjoy are unproductive. I have no choice but to procrastinate productively. If I don't miss my deadlines and I'm productive with all of the time I spend, procrastination is nothing but good for me. I get far more done when I'm avoiding a hard task than when I'm relaxing after completing it.

So, to those who are fighting against procrastination, I offer you two main options: either learn to stop putting off your tasks for later, or change some of the activities you do in your leisure time to productive ones. Procrastination isn't always bad.

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