The Positive Side of Procrastination and Why We Need to Talk About It
Is procrastination good? The jury seems to be forever out on that one. And the answer, depending on who you ask, will differ. For most, procrastination can be anything that gets in the way of you completing tasks and goals. Your phone is constantly chiming, that new show you’re obsessed with, the latest technology drop — there’s a lot of distraction out there.
But the truth is procrastination is both good and bad. It’s natural for most people to procrastinate. They procrastinate for many reasons:
Lack of creative outlet.
Avoidance of failure or success.
Energy levels are low.
But here’s a thought: What if you considered procrastination to be a positive thing instead of a negative?
Positive and procrastination aren’t two words you’d normally see together, but they can make a wave of difference in your life. When you view procrastination with a positive mindset, you'll feel less stressed. You'll also work towards a goal with ease.
How do you achieve a positive procrastination mindset?
To obtain positive procrastination you must first accept that procrastination will happen. It’s natural. It happens to all of us. For some, they use this time to look at why all of a sudden they hit a roadblock. Sometimes procrastination is a way of telling you to slow down and re-evaluate your plan. Maybe something is off and you need to fix it.
The truth is you have to stretch your get-it-done muscles and allow space and time to complete harder projects. When procrastination strikes, it truly is the best time to rework your plan. Here are some steps to follow to achieve a positive procrastination mindset.
Break down each step
Go as close to the minute as you can. You need to understand how long each step might take and be ready for obstacles. The length of completion can vary depending on the task or goal you’re working towards, but the steps don’t change. Get a birds-eye view of everything you need to do. This is why breaking down steps into minute-by-minute tasks is important.
Use reverse engineering. Once you have an idea of how long a task will take, work backward. See what you’ll need to complete each month, week, or day depending on the length of your goal. Reverse engineering is positive procrastination at its finest! You’re getting to see the entire process before you even begin. Who doesn't want that? No surprises. It might seem daunting, but you now have a starting point.
Work when you’re energized
Schedule time to complete a task when your energy levels and concentration allow you to shine!. This can be the early morning hours for some and the later afternoon hours for others. If you’re at your most creative and productive between 10:00 am — 12:00 pm, that’s when you should work on your biggest goals.
That doesn’t mean you can’t work on it during your less productive hours. But the primary goal is to work on large projects when you’re at your best. Try and create a space and time for when that happens. Obviously, if you’re most productive from 7:00 pm — 9:00 pm and you work 9-5 it’ll be tricky. Discover what hours you’re at your second most energized and work on it then.
The idea is to know the highest probability of you getting into your zone of genius and constantly blocking off that time. Guard it against meetings and phone calls, and create a mood that fosters you to concentrate.
Create a false deadline
Believe it or not, people work better when there’s a deadline looming. Think about your favorite action film. Remember that scene when the bomb is minutes from exploding and the hero or heroine has to stop it? Look at how focused they are in those moments. Or in a romance movie when the main character has to stop the love of their life from boarding the plane (good luck getting through TSA!).
When tasks and goals have a deadline we’re more keen to work on them. If we don’t give ourselves deadlines we think we have all the time in the world. We procrastinate working towards something. Before you know it, a year has passed and you still haven’t completed that goal.
Create mini-deadlines that feel attainable, and break the project down into manageable tasks. And since deadlines are a natural productivity booster, you’ll be amazed by how much you get done ahead of time. Whether your task or goal has a deadline or not, create one anyway.
Get an accountability partner
Besides a deadline, one of the other ways people are most productive is when they work with someone. Working on your own is fine, but bringing in an accountability partner gives you an external reason to show up.
When choosing your accountability partner, pick someone that will REALLY hold you accountable. A spouse or parent might not be suitable as they’ll coddle you on the days you don’t do so well. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the point is to move forward. Being told to take it easy is where positive procrastination becomes negative procrastination.
So pick someone who will understand setbacks, but will tell you to get back on your feet and keep moving. Create a check-in schedule. You can let them know your progress on a daily or weekly basis. Be prepared to report on your progress. Then offer to return the favor. You’ll be happy to be their accountability partner when they want to complete a lengthy task or goal.
Create a reward system
You’re working hard. You deserve to treat yourself when you complete something. I’m not talking about doing the laundry or putting the dishes in the dishwasher. I’m talking about completing a step towards that larger goal.
A reward system is a great incentive and another productivity booster. Look at the steps you wrote down. Choose three times when you plan to reward yourself for completing them. Say you’ll treat yourself to something nice when you reach and complete the:
Don’t give yourself too many rewards. The point here is to reward yourself when you reach those milestone moments. And don’t let the reward be small. Get yourself that expensive purse or splurge on some new books. Whatever you’ve had your eye on, reward yourself with it when you accomplish one of those milestones.
Don’t let procrastination hold you back!
Sometimes procrastination is a cry for help. If you’re embarking on a big task by yourself, it can become tedious. You tell yourself it’s too much and stop working. Enter negative procrastination. The difference between positive and negative procrastination is a mindset shift. When you want to give up because it’s hard, it’s time to shift your perspective.
Don’t dwell on how bad, sluggish, sleepy, or distracted you are. Ask yourself, “What do I need?” Procrastination is often our mind or body alerting us to a need for something. That could be sleep, a healthy meal, or fun.
So when procrastination strikes, tell yourself, “This is fine.” Let positive procrastination tell you what you need. Go outside for a walk to get some fresh air. Take a look at your plan and see if you can eliminate or rework any steps. Stretch or enjoy that new TV show everyone has been talking about.
It’s important to note when procrastination is positive because it’s in those moments you let yourself recharge. And recharging can lead to revelations.
Productivity begins and ends with your mindset. Although action is required you can’t get anything done without effort. But mindset is key when it comes to accomplishing whatever goal you want to do. Positive procrastination can be an amazing tool and when used correctly, will bring you incredible results.
If you’re looking for more insight into how positive procrastination can work for you, contact us today. And don’t forget to follow us on social media for daily tips, tricks, and inspiration.