Procrastination has a bad rep. Once people realize or, even worse, are told that they are procrastinators, many tend to dive into a wave of negativity and self-doubt only to emerge with a desire to prove to the world that they can procrastinate even longer. Is there a way to make this potentially debilitating habit productive? Here are 5 ways to procrastinate with purpose:
- Use procrastination to organize your thoughts and assess the situation objectively. Mentally run down the list of burning questions you must address. Here are a few favorites to get you started:
- What needs to be done?
- Why would it be desirable to do those things?
- What have you already accomplished?
- What kinds of resources and help will you need when you decide to start working on the project?
For more useful questions to assess your situation, look here.
Write out your thoughts. Writing has the great effect of bringing clarity, calmness and objectivity to the mind.
- Use procrastination to create a time-management system for your future actions. John Richardson of Success Begins Today wrote a series of very insightful posts on focused work time. The Focused 50 has some great resources for allocating time to various activities throughout the day.
- Use procrastination to motivate yourself for success. Take a walk in the park, meditate, put on your favorite CD – do whatever works for you to create a positive vision of accomplishment. How will you feel once the project is completed? Imagine the actual result: your student note published in a law journal or an effective presentation of your moot court argument. What will you do for fun to reward yourself for your great work? Think of little rewards you can give yourself when you complete each part of a longer project. Talk to people who can motivate you for action. Write down two or three positive attributes of the final product as you see it and repeat those attributes whenever you sense a negative self-talk.
- “Turn procrastination into rehearsal”, writes Roy Peter Clark of Poynter Institute. Use this time to create a mind map of your project. Maybe, you’ll be able to come up with some catchy headings for your paper or construct an argument for a brief. Keep your mind on the target and take notice of any useful ideas that come to you. You can do this along with any activity that does not require a lot of mental work. I get all sorts of decent ideas while cooking. My husband likes to lie down to do “conceptual work.”
- Finally, if you don’t have much time left to procrastinate, read How to make something amazing right now by Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users. Time constraints may be a good thing as they can drive creative. Those of you with a perfectionist streak may find it therapeutic to use your procrastination time to produce something fast without worrying too much about quality. You’ll have more time later to improve your product.
Procrastinate with purpose!