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The Unexpected Benefits of Procrastination

Are there benefits of procrastination? When used appropriately, yes! Find out how short-term procrastination can actually help you prioritize your to-do list, think more creatively, and get stuff done at a pace that works for you.

A woman procrastinating at her desk

Procrastination has a bad reputation because most people see procrastinators as lazy or unmotivated. Surely, every single one of us decide to postpone tasks because we simply don’t feel like doing it at the moment—right? Instead, we “take the easy route” and focused on the things that made us happy and content or just seem easier.

If you catch yourself deprioritizing work and doing everything at the last minute, you might start feeling drained, which will make you repeat that cycle and over again. But is procrastination really that damaging? Or can you accept it—and even benefit from it?

Why is procrastination bad

Procrastination isn’t fully bad or good, but it all depends on how you use it. Procrastination is bad when it leaves you feeling more drained, frustrated, and stressed than if you were to have better time management and prioritization your tasks. 

Yet, a healthy dose of procrastination can give you time to think more about what you have to accomplish. For many people, short-term procrastination actually is a strategy for prioritization. 

Before we dive into the benefits of procrastination, consider if you struggle with long-term procrastination and the negative emotions that come from it. In this case, more procrastination could lead to negative outcomes.

Using procrastination in your work life

When we talk about the benefits of procrastination, we’re not talking about chronic procrastinators. Instead, we’re talking about using procrastination strategically when faced with a task that requires a significant amount of creativity or strategic thinking. In these cases, understanding the task and then putting it off for a short amount of time can help you think, prioritize, and focus. 

Here are six of the unexpected benefits of procrastination:

It gives your brain a breath of fresh air

Procrastinating doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about a project you need to complete—it’s always somewhere in the back of your head. So even while you’re cooking or watching TV, you’ll be unconsciously connecting and improving your ideas. 

Procrastination can lead to an unexpected flash of inspiration and help you approach a problem from a different angle. Chances are, after taking some time off, you’ll get the creative power you need to finish the task. In fact, according to the New York Times and several studies, putting off a task can help you develop a better idea for approaching it or completing it. Since our first thoughts typically are the most straightforward, procrastinating can help you develop more creatives ideas to complete the task at hand.

It helps you reevaluate your to-do list

If you spend a lot of time thinking about a task you “need” to do, you might realize that it’s really just not that important. Most of us take up a lot of unnecessary work, and we end up feeling drained. Procrastination can force you to go through your planner and decide which assignments are most urgent. 

A time crunch makes you identify the high-priority work, and move those tasks up your list. You’ll be able to move forward, eliminate unnecessary work, and become more productive.

It can lead to more focus

Waiting until the very last hour to submit your work feels stressful—the dreadful deadline is approaching, and you have nothing to submit. However, once you realize you simply have to get down to work, your focus will be there. When you know that you have time to be laid back, it’s easy to let yourself pick up your phone or check social media every couple of minutes. But once a deadline is right around the corner, you’re likely to spend every single minute trying to complete the job, and you won’t let any distractions pull you away.

It can identify your passion

Doing the things you love is easy, right? You don’t feel unmotivated and tired when working on a passion project. But if you notice that you lack enthusiasm for the work you do and always procrastinate, it might be time to think about what you want to do in the future. 

Procrastination can be a warning sign that you need to get out of a rut. So sit down and think about the tasks you truly enjoy doing, then try to include more of them in your life. You’ll notice that you will rarely procrastinate on things that bring you joy, and you’ll start completing great work

It can help you see your abilities

Dreading a single task from your to-do list might motivate you to finish everything else on there before you finally decide to tackle the hardest one. Besides proving that you’re capable of finishing so many things, this momentum can also motivate you to stop procrastinating on that single project and finally turn it in. Procrastination makes you realize just how much you can do in a short time, which can boost your self-confidence and your belief in your own talent.

It can give you energy

Spending your entire day procrastinating and then rushing the job at the last minute can give you a huge adrenaline boost. People tend to leave work for later because they feel sluggish and unmotivated, and the need to meet a hard deadline can kick-start your brain into action. The adrenaline rush of a ticking clock will make you work faster and can carry you through the project.

Give yourself grace for moderate procrastination 

While it might sound a bit strange, procrastination is not necessarily a bad habit. The key is accepting it as one part of your creative process and learning to see its good sides. When used wisely, procrastination can become a good friend that might inspire you to do work that you adore and to do it with more creativity, energy, and passion.

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