I’ve certainly written my share of productivity tips in my previous series and other articles on that topic. Procrastination is one I’ve not written on yet. Most articles and guides suggest learning to avoid procrastination, overcome the habits of procrastination and find ways to simply take things one without delay. Now, while those ideas have their own merit, I also think that there is another side to procrastination that can be quite useful as well. That is to use what you have already mastered about procrastination for the right things.
Everyone has things they would consider waste and other things on that dreaded to do list that seem like they must get done. That list however, contains things on it that you probably don’t want to be doing and leaves you with one choice, either do it, or procrastinate it.
To change that list and make the choice a little easier, but the things you want to avoid on your list. Perhaps they are bad habits or activities you are looking to eliminate since they get in the way of work you need to do. Well, think about those more attractive activities and write them instead as the enjoyable activity, an activity that leads to more pain because of the procrastination. Perhaps a few examples would help here:
Mow the lawn
Do the dishes
Exercise for 30 minutes
Add to the List New Tasks
Neglect the lawn so it takes an extra hour to mow next week and looks terrible for visitors
See what’s on TV and waste the night being lazy so I’ll regret it tomorrow wishing otherwise
Now, if you look just at the initial list, the tasks all seem quite average but you don’t want to do any of them. There is no clear winner or best choice and none of them might make you feel like getting started, so you procrastinate. However, if you combine these lists and are looking at the tasks, the new items look significantly more varied and that works well for a procrastinator since the priorities don’t help them. So, now there is a task to make yourself feel bad the next day and is exactly what you might have done if it wasn’t on the list, but since there are much easier choices there with little impact, any good procrastinator will pick the easier ones to do so they can now simply get to do those dishes or perhaps go for a jog.
Mowing the lawn as a task will contrast strongly with leaving it for a week and then having to deal with those consequences that are much worse. This may or may not help depending on how a person feels about leaving it, but the contrast, and difference between tasks on a list help a procrastinator since they tend to pick the easier tasks and not the most important or prioritized tasks. Putting more of your common time wasters but written with an intense impact that makes it seem painful, will ensure a procrastinator will avoid it, as that is what they do best so why not take advantage of that yourself.
Putting these tasks that are far worse, make the initial tasks seems quite a lot easier so you end up using your skills to procrastinate the waste.
Motivated by Procrastination
So the self deception that is carried on by procrastinating waste can be taken a bit further. Having many things on your to do list with a few important ones you really don’t want to do, let a good procrastinator to accomplish a great many things in order to avoid those few important ones. The trick is that the top tasks seem most important and are likely the ones most dreaded so they get procrastinated by lower listed items. This can be a useful way as a procrastinator to get a lot of things done and even though you are still procrastinating, it is time well spent!
Keeping Commitments Under Control
Finally, my final tip with using procrastination is to also control your commitments you have on your plate. If you always tackle the biggest task first and seem to always have time to take on more, others can take advantage of that, especially in a workplace, and just keep piling the work on. New tasks are more likely to have higher importance than your simple remaining and undone tasks so the new tasks become expected more naturally. Well, not if you procrastinate more. If you always procrastinate the most difficult tasks, you are also always busy and have important work on the plate so it’s much easier to avoid commitments. This can be useful if you truly want to take on less without having to just say no.
Disclaimer: I only recommend doing these things if you are already a procrastinator and can’t break the habit. There are advantages in that habit you can actually use to your advantage even if they are not ideal ways to handle a task list or work load.
Prev: Guest Post: 8 Ways to Inspire Others
Next: 8 Methods to Find Inspiration