While there is often a negative connotation in regards to procrastination, there are also several benefits to procrastinating. Provided that you are still able to complete the given task within the specified timeline.
Many people use procrastination as a technique to produce their best work. For some, long lead times cause them to hesitate and deliberate over minor details. A fast-approaching deadline is what is required for them to kick it up a notch and actually produce something.
The Pareto principle, also described as the 80/20 rule, is well known to many people and especially apparent to those individuals who procrastinate. In general terms, it states that 20% of your effort amounts to 80% of the results, or 80% of your effort only amounts to 20% of your results.
You always seem to get done what is required in the timeframe you give yourself (or given to you). Too many individuals get caught up wasting valuable time on unimportant details. If you recognize that you are procrastinating, there are several ways you can use it to your advantage and benefit from it.
Below are eight examples of ways that you can benefit from procrastination.
1. Forces You To Focus (Increases Time Management – At Least For The Short Term)
While your time-management skills may not be the best on a normal day, when a timeline is fast approaching, you become very focused on the task at hand.
Suddenly, you are not as eager to check your phone, or scroll through social media, or talk to your coworkers. Distractions are completely minimized, and your time-management skills are brought to a level that you wish you could maintain daily.
2. Allows You To Work Faster
Another benefit of procrastination is that when it comes times to work, it will increase the speed at which you work. The thought of missing your deadline, as well as the adrenaline rush you feel from the deadline fast-approaching, enables you to work faster.
It seems as though a weight has been lifted and the areas that you previously struggled to get started with appear easier. Words appear to flow when writing, decision making seems natural, and large tasks are more manageable.
3. Provides You With An Adrenaline Rush When You Finally Start To Work
You procrastinate, and delay, and put it off. But eventually, you reach a tipping point where you must start the work you are required to complete to meet the fast-approaching deadline.
Sometimes, it is even questionable whether you will be able to get everything completed on time.
The feeling you get when you realize that delaying the task is no longer an option is an adrenaline rush. Deep down you know you will not miss the important deadline, but the fear or possibility that you might not get everything completed in time creates the rush.
You may feel a bit more on edge, you kick it into high gear, and you get to work. The adrenaline rush powers you over the finish line to deliver your best possible product for the remaining time you have given yourself.
4. Gives You A Chance To Finish Other Tasks On Your To-Do List
Previously, the benefits of procrastination that have been discussed are all about when it comes time to work to meet a fast-approaching deadline. However, there are also a few benefits that can be recognized during the time you are procrastinating whatever task it is that you are avoiding.
For instance, when you are procrastinating one task, other mundane or typically boring tasks appear to be more manageable. You can use the time while you are procrastinating to complete other items on your to-do list.
Typically these tasks are more administrative, but nonetheless, they still need to be finished. By continuing to finish other items on your to-do list, you are able to remain productive in other areas.
Procrastinating specific tasks while still being productive in another area is a lot better than just procrastinating.
It is important to be able to recognize when you are procrastinating specific tasks and instead focus on more achievable or mundane assignments in these instances. Generally, you can fill this time with catching up on non-urgent tasks that you haven’t previously given priority to.
In a work environment, examples could include catching up on emails, organizing and cleaning your desk or workspace, creating a to-do list for the next day or weeks activities, reaching out to clients to schedule upcoming meetings, data-entry, printing/photocopying, etc.
5. Procrastination Helps Lower Expectations
Many people procrastinate because they are so caught up in trying to perfect whatever it is that they are working on.
For example, say you are assigned two weeks to complete a task. If you take the full two weeks to work on it, you will dedicate a considerable amount of time and effort working on the deliverable.
You will build expectations about what the final product will look like, how it will be received, will it be good enough, the implications it might have on others, etc.
For many people, this creates added stress, anxiety, and worry. The extra time they have to work on a project can actually have a negative effect on them.
Instead of using the additional time to be more productive, they spend unnecessary time stressing over minute details that aren’t important to the big picture goal. They get caught up in the trees and struggle to see the forest.
One benefit of procrastinating is lowering the expectations you have for the end product of what it is that you are working on.
The adrenaline boost that was previously discussed above will kick you into high gear when it is time to work. You will always get the job done to meet your deadlines.
However, you will have less time to build expectations and worry about details and more time to make the best possible product before the deadline.
6. Minimizes Time For Hesitations Or Second Guessing (No Analysis Paralysis)
When you have time on your hands, you can hesitate, second guess, and deliberate over fine details. These might appear like important steps, but they generally cause delays in whatever it is that you or an organization are working on.
While considerable thought and detail should be given to everything you work on, at some point, a decision needs to be made one way or another. Deadlines help to make these decisions.
When a deadline is looming, you no longer have the time to hesitate. A decision is made, and you move onto the next task.
Without a fast-approaching deadline, many people find themselves in an unproductive scenario known as analysis paralysis.
If you are unaware of the saying, it is when an individual or individuals analyze and overthink a situation or decision so much that they fail to make a decision (become paralyzed in the decision-making process).
No progress is actually made, only extensive discussions on the potential of different ideas. Examples could include discussions over the type of font, color scheme, or formatting of a project. At some point, you need to take action.
Procrastination helps minimize analysis paralysis and guarantees action will be taken. You have delayed starting a task for such a length of time that now you must make quick and informed decisions with the resources available, and move on.
7. Reduces Unnecessary Effort If Tasks Change Closer To Deadlines
Have you ever put in a considerable amount of effort to meet a deliverable, only to later have the deliverable changed, which results in you wasting time completing something that wasn’t necessary?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. This happens to everyone, all the time.
Clients change their mind on what exactly it is that they want, professors update assignments after they realize they have made an error or asked an unsolvable question, and bosses update deliverables by changing company initiatives after receiving new data.
Sometimes, it isn’t in your best interest to get started right away on items with long lead times. This can help prevent you from completing unnecessary tasks that will not end up being required, or cause you to tweak deliverables that you had already finished.
8. Time Can Improve Your Ideas
Completely avoiding a task until a short amount of time before the deadline can create several problems. For example, you might not recognize the full scope of the task, or the amount of work required.
However, benefits can definitely be drawn from reviewing a task and its objectives once you are initially assigned it, and then revisiting it at a later date when the deadline is closer.
Time can, without a doubt, improve your ideas.
If you review a task once it is first assigned to you, you are aware of the requirements of the project. While you may not schedule any time to focus on this task specifically until a later date, you will be thinking about it subconsciously.
This allows you to start the process in your head of how you will approach the problem, what resources you will require, and a rough amount of time to get the project done.
When it comes time to work on the task, you have already debated several ideas in your head of how to approach the work you need to do in the best possible way. As a result, your end product is better because of it.
Instead of starting from square one when you finally stop procrastinating and start the work, you have already completed some essential steps to get the ball rolling. In short, while procrastinating, time can most definitely improve your ideas.
The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?
eightysixfourhundred, make them count