Procrastinate Smart

Photo by Kristopher Roller

For somebody who harps on about productivity as much as I do, I’m insanely good at procrastinating.

We all say this of course, followed by a laugh about how lazy we all are, but seriously. If I have one thing I need to be getting on with, I’ll do everything else in the world to avoid doing what I need to do.

While going through my most recent spell of looking at what I needed to do, followed by four Instagram refreshes and a quick check on the news, I noticed that in-between these distractions I was working on something that I didn’t need to work on at that moment, but it needed to get done.

It wasn’t the ‘one thing’ I needed to be getting on with, but it was something I needed to do all the same. Though my ordering was dramatically off, at least while I was procrastinating I was still getting something worthwhile done, something that I would have needed to do after my ‘one thing’ anyway.

It reminded me of something I read recently (I can’t remember who by) where the writer said that whenever he falls deep into a procrastination bubble he lets himself run with it. He closes the program/tab he had been working on, and he lets himself totally indulge in his habit of procrastination, actively telling himself he can’t work; he has to procrastinate.

It doesn’t take long for him to become tired of swiping down to refresh Twitter before he jumps at the chance to get back on with the work he had originally intended for himself.

This situation is not ideal, but where’s the fun in that? Avoiding procrastination altogether, though possible in certain situations, is rarely going to work. Much better to procrastinate on the ‘one thing’ you really need to do with something you need to do with less urgency, than doing nothing at all. ∎

Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.