People usually consider procrastination a negative habit. Only by google-ing, you can find millions of results for “How to eliminate procrastination?”. However, many creative people argue that there’s a positive effect of procrastination make their work more high-quality (as I’ve mentioned in our previous post about Procrastination Problem). In this blog, I want to discuss both viewpoints: Is procrastination good or bad?
Well, not surprisingly, there’s a book named “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay“, by Frank Partnoy, discusses how procrastination helped the author make his way through college, law school and even became, very successful with his academic career.
So, is procrastination good or bad? We shall figure out right now!
Let’s see what type of procrastinator you are first!
Scientists categorized procrastinator into 2 kinds: active and passive procrastinator. And there’s a thin line between those two.
Passive procrastination is more common with us – when you delay your plan and replace with other unhelpful things. For example: Watching my idol’s show doesn’t help me brainstorm for this blog at all. It does help me relax but not contribute to my career pathway.
What about active procrastination? Why is it helpful, sometimes? Active procrastinators put off tasks and they only wait until deadlines are chasing to start working. Because they work effectively under pressure.
Well, if you can not handle stress well, then don’t act as an active procrastinator.
Have you seen the main difference between these two? In short, one will really complete things and the other ends up not finishing anything.
Is procrastination good or bad or both?
In terms of the positive side, some scientists call it “creative taffing”. We spend a lot of time to brainstorm an excellent idea before putting it into action. Especially people with creative jobs, they tend to play around with a difficult problem before they try to resolve it.
For example, you stare at the wall to think of a script for a TVC, it’s called creative taffing.
On the other side, one negative reason for procrastination is that you are lacking definition towards your work. You’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing. You can’t start working because you are ambiguous. Why I have to do this, where I should start, what I’m going to do now,…
As we know, creative taffing is staring at the wall with your head plenty of ideas for a TVC. So in contrast, lying on the bed without any direction in your brain, how to come up with a slogan for your brand, is just a waste of time. This is an example of lack of definition.
Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest reason for procrastination. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned clearly enough, we haven’t specified the goal of our project, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to complete the job — it’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into becoming a useless potato. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.
How can we deal with bad procrastination?
In this blog, I suggest a method: building a sense of urgency. It sounds like turning yourself into an active procrastinator, but a part only.
More specifically, you can try forming a habit of planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform a task, push yourself towards a deadline, even a fake one.
It’s even more important for large targets: an effective plan not only consists of the steps you have to take to get the job done, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps. Instead of walking around wondering how can you work without last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project. Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.
Large target here is not only an important proposal you hand into your manager. It could a big goal, a task that you consider very important for yourself. Even like losing weight or daily meditation, or just 8-hour-sleep-a-day (for me).
And if you need something to break down a big goal into small steps and to track single step, there’s Nirow, our 4-month-old app. Nirow automatically tracks your habits/activities every day and reminds you when necessary.
In conclusion, my answer to the question “Is Procrastination good or bad?” is .. both, but the key point here is how can we make use of positive procrastination and how we improve negative procrastination.